Have you ever heard the loud thumping of your heart when in a tense situation? Or felt your hands tremble in fear?? Ever said to yourself or others that you have anxiety? Ever wondered how this would be different from what is referred to as an anxiety disorder?
Anxiety disorders make it difficult for a person to do their day to day activities like bathing and cleaning, and other responsibilities like being able to participate fully in their educational environment or engaging in their space of employment or contribute at home despite wanting to. They often experience feelings of overwhelming fear about current or future events. Most people with anxiety disorders are aware that their fears are not grounded in reality. Let us look at the example of Anita –
Anita is a 25-year old woman and as long as she can remember, she has always been a worrier. She used to be worried about her family and friends, her studies, and health. When she got too tense, her heartbeat increased and she would start shaking. When she was in college, she was doing better. Although she continued to worry, she felt confident that she could build a life for herself that she wanted. Things got out of control when she finished graduation and her worrying increased a lot. She would often find herself lying awake in bed at night, twisting and turning at thoughts that said what if she couldn’t study further? What if she’d end up alone in life? What if she gets sick? This reached the point where Anita was physically sick most of the time – diarrhoea, pain in her neck, and constant headaches. It got too much for her.
From Anita’s story we just saw that these thoughts are often uncontrollable and persistent. A person with an anxiety disorder often faces difficulties with sleep, find it difficult to concentrate, may become irritable and/ or restless, just like Anita did.
Anxiety disorders may be expressed in other ways including fears about specific objects or situations, attacks of intense fear and apprehension, or may be presented in the forms of flashbacks or nightmares from previous traumatic experiences. It can also be presented in the form of persistent thoughts that can be calmed only by engaging in specific activities. The important thing to remember is that these experiences are often very stressful and distressing to the person experiencing them and for those who care for the person.
Anita can get help for her excessive worrying in many ways depending on what she is comfortable with. One option is to seek a therapist who would teach her methods for coping with the thoughts and feelings she has which make her worry too much. Anita can also seek the help of a psychiatrist who may offer her medication for her concerns. She can also seek home visits which would assist with understanding the environment she lives in and helping those around her understand her condition better.
Understanding Anxiety | Anxiety and Depression Association of America https://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety
OCD & Anxiety Disorders: Crash Course Psychology #29
Rethinking anxiety: Learning to face fear | Dawn Huebner https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aX7jnVXXG5o