“It would be more enjoyable for me, to experience life without any fear and to live a normal life, without anxiety.”
This is what a person suffering from anxiety disorder said, when interrogated during a study.
Anxiety can be defined as the mind and body’s reaction to stressful or unfamiliar situations. It causes a sense of uneasiness and distress one feels before a significant event takes place. To stay alert and aware, a certain level of anxiety is necessary but for a person suffering from an anxiety disorder, it can be completely enfeebling.
Anxiety disorder statistics as collected by the World Health Organization (WHO), Harvard University, University of Michigan, and country-based researchers worldwide for the The World Mental Health Survey Initiative (WMH) shows that more than 18% of the population surveyed suffers from different types of anxiety disorders. So, if you’re also suffering from the same, you’re not alone.
But how to be sure? Some symptoms could be not being able to relax, chest pain or pressure,irregular breathing, constant excessive worrying, rapid pulse or pounding, skipping, racing heart, nausea, feeling a ‘lump in the throat’, sweating, shaking and headache, difficulty in falling asleep, dry mouth, feelings of dread, apprehension or losing control, fainting or dizziness, feelings of detachment, thoughts of death, suicidal ideation, abdominal cramps, and numbness
Why did it happen to you? Are you under stress because of work, school, personal relationship or you can’t get over an emotional trauma or it could be some financial concerns. Stress caused by a chronic or serious medical condition or a major event or performance, it could be the side effect of certain medications, alcohol consumption, drugs such as cocaine or lack of oxygen. It’s extremely necessary to understand the reason for suffering in order to treat the person completely.
Which type of anxiety disorder are you suffering from? It could be Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD),Social anxiety disorder, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), phobias or panic disorder. There are many types of Self-help Groups where you can meet people with a similar problem and share yours, this can help people deal with their current situation and identify your anxiety disorder.
There are many Evidence-Based Therapies available. It includes counseling, psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE), Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and family therapy. Yoga is also beneficial in this. Meditation and stress management are also advised in many cases. Different therapies help patients in dealing with different types of disorders. A certain type of therapy might not work for you, therefore it’s necessary to analyze your progress from time to time and seek help from your family and friends as well.
“I feel really extremely calm when I’m under medication and the amount of negative thoughts in my head drop by a significant number. I’ve more positive thoughts. There’s no sign of Depression. There are no incidents of panic attacks and I can handle stress better. I no longer have recurring negative thoughts. I feel very relieved and much calmer. When I started off with the medication, I was very much depressed and had more negative thoughts. This happened for about three weeks before everything started falling into place. I would have severe bouts of anxiety for three weeks straight and it would calm down.”
This is the general experience when someone starts taking medication. The results are positive but one needs to be patient, as different types of treatments take varying amounts of time.
How to open up to people? One should be very clear as to why the other person should know about their disorder, once you have that figured out, prepare yourself for any kind of reactions, you can’t control how others might act but you surely can prepare yourself for those reactions and the response which you might come up with. If you want to tell the other person, be considerate of the person’s time and emotional state. And respect your emotions too, it’s okay to cry if you feel like it. Being anxious or upset when talking about your situation is completely normal and natural.
“I’ve never experienced people who know me well treating me any differently because of my Anxiety Disorder and those who aren’t close to me, would never know or be aware of the fact that I have an Anxiety Disorder.” This is the experience of someone having an anxiety disorder, one should not be scared about opening up, this is a part of you and makes you who you are. Telling people who matter to you is a way of accepting yourself. It will help you get going and improve your current situation.
It is difficult to trust others, especially when you’ve to tell them about your insecurities, and everyone’s afraid of rejection but to not try isn’t justified.
Those who do not have an anxiety disorder but are willing to help others must not shame someone for having it. They have to fight a battle each day, and don’t add more obstacles in their path. One should be very patient while talking to a person experiencing an episode of anxiety and let them know that you’re there to fully support them whenever required.
As someone said, “I don’t think people understand how stressful it is when you don’t understand what’s going on inside your head and you need to explain it to someone. ” Give it time, give yourself some time. Be kind to yourself as well as others. And remember nothing lasts forever, you’ll get through. Just keep taking steps in the right direction and you’ll experience the difference. Seek help if needed and don’t ever be afraid to open up to people.
By Aditi Kalkal