Anxiety in Adults


Anxiety is useful in certain situations, some of the time. But how do you know when the signs of anxiety you experience might be significant enough to qualify for an anxiety disorder? An appointment with your family physician or a trained mental health professional is a good first step. However, in preparation for that visit, or to decide whether a visit is needed, it can help to understand what professionals look for in diagnosing an anxiety disorder.

To begin with, there are eleven different “types” of anxiety and related disorders, and each anxiety disorder has a list of commonly occurring symptoms clustered into 4 areas:

  • Physical responses
  • Thoughts
  • Emotions
  • Behaviours

Next, anxiety specialists have identified that when people experience anxiety more often (e.g. most days, and for months at a time), and more intensely than others, it can create significant disruption in their lives.


This disruption can interrupt or even stop adults from participating in a variety of experiences such as attending higher education, pursuing meaningful work, joining social, athletic, or recreational clubs, being in relationships, and more. Finally, it is this combination of factors that increase the chances of being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

It is common for adults to experience anxiety symptoms of more than one anxiety disorder. This means as you read the definitions below, it would be fairly common to say, “Yes! This sounds like me, but so does this other description!” Fortunately, the helpful approaches outlined throughout this website can be used for multiple anxiety problems, so that even if you have 2, 3, or more disorders, many of the same tools can be used for all of them.

For more information and tools, visit MAP for Adults. My Anxiety Plan (MAP) is an anxiety management program designed to provide adults struggling with anxiety with practical strategies and tools to manage anxiety. MAP includes 6 easy to navigate units with 45 lessons.

For more anxiety management tools, check out the free MindShift CBT app, or our affordable group therapy program, MindShift CBT Groups.


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