Anxiety is a feeling of worry or fear that won’t go away. It affects our thoughts, feelings, and actions. It becomes a problem when your daily living activities—like work, school, self-care, and socializing—are negatively impacted. Anxiety that seems uncontrollable or overwhelming, and doesn’t go away, may be a sign of an anxiety disorder. An anxiety disorder is not the same as stress. With an anxiety disorder, the symptoms are extreme and don’t go away once the stress is over.
It’s important to know that you don’t need to suffer. Some people find they're able to manage the symptoms of their anxiety disorder by stress management, relaxation techniques, exercise, and getting enough sleep. Professional help includes cognitive behavioural therapy, exposure therapy, and medication.
What is normal?
Everyone experiences anxiety at times in their life, especially when life gets stressful. It’s normal for people to feel anxious if they’re in a dangerous situation, or before events like public speaking or an interview. But too much anxiety that doesn’t let up, and that interferes with your day-to-day activities, could be a sign of an anxiety disorder.
What are common signs and symptoms?
If you’ve experienced some of the signs below, and they just won’t go away, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder:
- Constantly tense, worried, irritable, or on edge
- Anxiety interferes with your work, school, or family responsibilities
- Bothered by fears that you know are irrational, but can’t shake
- Believing that something bad will happen if things aren’t done a certain way
- Avoiding everyday situations or activities because they cause you anxiety
- Sudden, unexpected attacks of heart-pounding panic
- Feeling like danger and catastrophe are around every corner
But anxiety is more than just a feeling. It also comes with physical symptoms:
- Pounding heart
- Stomach upset
- Frequent urination or diarrhea
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle tension or twitches
- Shaking or trembling
Should I seek help?
Some anxiety is normal, but see your doctor if you feel like you're worrying too much, if it's interfering with your school, work, or relationships, if you feel depressed or irritable, have trouble with using alcohol or drugs, or you have other mental health concerns along with anxiety.
If you have suicidal thoughts or behaviours, seek emergency treatment immediately—call 911 or the Nova Scotia Mental Health Crisis line at 1-888-429-8167.
Your worries are not likely to go away on their own, and they could actually get worse. Anxiety may be easier to treat early on, so get professional help before your anxiety becomes severe.
Wellness Together CanadaWellness Together Canada
Wellness Together Canada is a mental health and substance use website to support people across Canada and Canadians living abroad in both official languages. They provide the following resources for you at no cost:
Well Central & Well-being CourseCanadian Mental Health Association
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HealthyMinds@WorkCanadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
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Mental Health 101The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Knowledge is power. This series of free online tutorials is a starting point for learning about mental health. You can come away with a greater understanding of the mental health concern you are interested in knowing more about.
Psychological First Aid pocket guideRed Cross
This exciting program option teaches everyone how to help others experiencing loss, grief and stress, and also self-care.
Mindshift CBTAnxiety Canada
Is anxiety getting in the way of your life?
Antidepressant Skills at WorkPsychology Health and Safety
A self-care guide that teaches employees skills for managing depression and low mood. It utilizes established cognitive-behavioural techniques with a specific focus on workplace issues.
Walk AlongUniversity of British Columbia
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Mood MeterGovernment of Newfoundland
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The 30 Day Mindfulness Challenge teaches you how to lower stress, increase resilience and improve well-being, performance and optimism so you can become more present at work, out in the community, or with friends and family.
Therapy Assistance Online (TAO)Therapy Assistance Online
Online library of engaging, interactive programs to learn life skills and to help you bounce back from disappointments or stumbling blocks in life.
ICAN (Conquer Anxiety and Nervousness)
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Strongest Families Institute - Child, Youth and Parent
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SFI’s scientifically proven distance-delivered services improve mental health and well...
IWK Mental Health and Addictions Program
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Canadian Mental Health Association - Colchester East Hants Branch
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Canadian Mental Health Association - Halifax-Dartmouth Branch
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Canadian Mental Health Association - Nova Scotia Division
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Laing House, located in Halifax, is a drop-in centre for youth aged 16 – 29 living with mental health illness and/or challenges. Based on peer support, youth can meet friends...
Healthy Minds Cooperative
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Hope for Wellness HelpLine
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Eskasoni Mental Health
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Caregivers Nova Scotia
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Kids Help Phone
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211 is a free, confidential information and referral service that can connect you to thousands of programs and services offered by local community groups, nonprofits and government departments across Nova Scotia, 24/7.
Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services - Mental Health Programs and Services
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Veterans Affairs Canada Assitance Service
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Geriatric Psychiatry Acute Inpatient Unit
The Geriatric Psychiatry Acute Inpatient Unit is for individuals over the age of 65 with a new onset of mental illness or for individuals of any age with dementia and complicated medical and/or psychological symptoms.
Geriatric Psychiatry Outpatient Program
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- individuals of...
Mental Health Day Treatment Program
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First Responders Assist
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Adult Neurodevelopmental Stabilization Unit - Dual Diagnosis Program (Intellectual Disability in combination with Mental Illness)
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Community Outreach Assessment Support and Treatment Team (COAST) - Dual Diagnosis Program (Intellectual Disability in combination with Mental Illness)
The community outreach assessment support and treatment team provides services for persons with both intellectual disability and also mental illness. These services include:...
Seniors Mental Health Services
Seniors mental health services provide assessment, consultation and treatments to:
- seniors aged 65 and older for a new onset of mental health challenges;
- individuals of...
School Mental Health (SchoolsPlus)
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Operational Stress Injury (OSI) Clinic
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Provincial Mental Health and Addictions Crisis Line
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First Nations Services
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Crossroads Cape Breton is community organized to support people living with mental illness in reclaiming and enhancing their lives. People are referred to as “members” because...
Adult Community Mental Health and Addictions Services
Community Mental Health and Addictions includes a team of mental health and addictions professionals who provide services on an outpatient basis. The team provides assessment...
Child and Adolescent Services
Child and Adolescent Services/Child Youth and Family/Child and Adolescent Outpatient Clinical Services provide mental health and addiction services to children and youth...
CaperBase Outreach Services
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We work with youth, families, schools, and community organizations to provide a safe, youth-friendly space that is confidential and non-judgmental.