If you’re reading this maybe you or someone you love is suffering from an anxiety disorder. Or maybe you want to further educate yourself about this form of mental illness (which is truly amazing of you).
First things first, there are 5 disorders that are labelled “anxiety disorders.” First, there are phobias. Phobias are classified as an intense fear surrounding a specific thing, that cause a person to make life altering changes in order to avoid the thing they are afraid of. This is a challenging way to live, because much of your life is spent thinking about something that scares you and makes you feel uncomfortable. Secondly there is panic disorder. This is characterized by a person who has multiple panic attacks (an intense feeling of anxiety – fear of nothing specifically happening, but can raise heart rate, shorten breath and cause nausea). This can cause fear of attending certain events or visiting certain areas, because the trigger is generally unknown. Third, there is social anxiety disorder, (one that I have some speciality in having suffered from it my whole life), which is an intense fear of being embarrassed or judged negatively by others. It makes finding and keeping friendships and relationships nearly impossible. Finally, there is generalized anxiety disorder. This is characterized by excessive worry that persists for six months or longer. A painful experience for sure, with negative health impacts due to the physical manifestation of anxiety.
Although it seems like living with anxiety is hopeless and impossible, there are treatments available if you are willing to try. Counselling is a great option, as they teach Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to teach the patient how “thoughts, feelings and behaviours work together”. (CMHA, 2017). Medications such as antianxiety medications or antidepressants have been proven to alleviate symptoms of anxiety decreasing the frequency and intensity of anxious thoughts. This is essential in trying counselling because this gives the patient a more clear mind to focus upon the things being taught to them. Support groups are always a great treatment option for mental illness, because it gives you and option to talk to someone who actually understands what you’re going through and can talk to you in an informed way. Lastly, it’s always important to help yourself. Self help strategies such as stress management or practicing relaxation are great ways to try and open your mind up past the confines of your anxiety.
I know it seems like living with this illness is the world being cruel to you, and “beating you up,” but I know that with these help methods and having the right attitude you can make changes to your life.
Always remember, people that have been through a lot, are generally the best kind of people! They are the most empathetic, beautiful souls you could possibly meet, and that includes anyone reading this contemplating their own worth.
I love you, keep pushing through because you can.