Anxiety disorders affect roughly one in four people during their lifetime. Fortunately, the Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba or ADAM is here to help.
The organization offers numerous programs to assist individuals suffering from increased anxiety, including a specialized initiative rolling out later this year that aims to help children suffering from anxiety. These disorders can result in significant personal and societal costs, such as lost wages, decreased productivity, reduced quality of life, and frequent use of health care services. Treatments for the disorders are highly effective and include cognitive behavioural therapy and medications.
“Anxiety is normal when you’re faced with a threatening situation. For example, if you are walking down a dark street at night and it’s deserted, and suddenly you hear footsteps behind you and you turn a corner and the footsteps are following you, your anxiety level certainly might increase because your body sends out adrenaline to keep you safe. We have either a fight, flight or freeze reaction to a situation that produces anxiety and fear,” explains Mary Williams, ADAM executive director. “That’s a good thing. It keeps us safe. When it becomes a problem is when you experience symptoms of anxiety when there isn’t a threat and it interferes with your life with your daily activities.”
The organization hosts a virtual Anxiety and Worry Support Program and offers the service to all parts of the province. The six-week program is completely free and is provided online via Zoom, with a telephone option for those without computer access. It’s based on programming developed by The Valley Centre for Counselling in Dundas, Ont., and uses evidence-based cognitive-behavioural therapy practices.
Some physical symptoms of anxiety are a racing heart, headaches, upset stomach, muscle tension, and feeling dizzy. Some even experience panic attacks.
“There are a variety of different symptoms that anxiety can produce, and we also find that anxiety can create avoidance behaviours, so people will avoid situations where they feel threatened or anxious, or overly uncomfortable,” explains Williams. “And that might be anything from going to the store, to going to a party, to giving a speech. People often will try to find ways around those events so that they don’t have to participate and they don’t feel the anxiety. In the short term, you know it works, but in the long term it doesn’t because you still have the anxiety disorder.”
The organization is also accepting registration for its Coaching for Confidence program, which aims to provide support for parents, teachers, and childcare workers that are dealing with anxious children.
“We get a lot of calls from parents about their anxious children,” says Williams. “There is no program that we are aware of in Manitoba that replicates what we’ll be doing.”
The Coaching for Confidence program was developed by Dr. John Walker, a clinical psychologist and a professor at the University of Manitoba, in collaboration with the University of Halifax. The 12-week virtual program has facilitator lead group sessions that teach how to effectively help children overcome their anxieties.
For more information or to register for programming you can visit the Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba’s website.