Back in 2007, almost half of the 16 million Australians between the age bracket of 16-85 have had some form of mental health illness (read full prevalence report in Australia’s Dept. of Health data). Of which, anxiety disorders are the most common. Involving feelings of tension, distress and nervousness, anxiety is one of the most crippling mental distresses.
Anxiety though isn’t something to fret with, with the right management, it can be coped with. George Michael is one of the latest celebrities to seek treatment for anxiety. On his website, he said, “I have tried in vain to work my way through the trauma that the doctors who saved my life warned me I would experience”.
“Calm Down” are the last words we want to hear.
People with anxiety aren’t equipped with switches. Often, the panic attacks are caused by something that is beyond management, say some neurological impulses beyond control. When people with anxiety are told to calm down, it will come to deaf ears and will worsen everything.
In a certain study, the words “calm down will heighten and increase the emotional response of people with the attack and will certainly make everything worse. The words used to appease these people may be construed by their subconscious and intensify them. Say tell a person to calm down and they will panic, tell them to stop the fear and they will be even more afraid.
The best thing to do though is to show understanding, Then ask the person to acknowledge the emotion or why they are feeling that way. Voicing and thinking may help them deal with it. According to Keith Humphreys, Psychiatry Professor from the Stanford University, words don’t have to be the most powerful method, rather, offering actions or help and do something in their behalf may be your best way to help.
Physical symptoms bother us as the mind symptom does.
Anxiety may come with chills, chest pains, sweat, breathing difficulties and numbness. Sometimes a racing heart may comprise anxiety in a whole new way which makes sufferers think that they have a heart attack. Migraine, respiratory disease, thyroid disorder and IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome is common physical symptoms of anxiety.
The Harvard University website has listed a comprehensive post about anxiety and physical illness. People with anxiety disorders may have a greater risk of developing a number of other chronic illnesses.
Our fears are modified a hundred times more.
Normal people may see a simple task of walking in front of the crow a simple task, for people with anxiety, it may be amplified a too extreme degree. And these extreme fears may not go away fast, but this can be remedied through various techniques.
Seeking help may one of the best ways. Raphael Cushnir in Psychology Today has pointed out exposure therapy to bridge the fears into a manageable reality. He further said the emotional connection might be the key. Read a specific example from his post in this link Truth about Anxiety.
Pill bottles may come with some repercussions.
These repercussions may come from the social stigma. Plus, there can be physical retributions that may come from dependency. Although most people with anxiety can’t help it, anxiety pills may be there next to kin security blanket.
Pill bottles, Sleep Aids and Anti-Anxiety meds though, according to study Published in British Medical Journal may kill takers in the long run.
Our phobias are more than a butt of your joke.
This often comes as punch lines for many, but people with anxiety have phobias that are rooted deeply in their system. Pranks like showing pictures of the things that people with anxiety fear is totally insensitive. Although these fears are irrational, their fears are real.
Respect and empathy should be shown before everything gets out of hand. Surprisingly, this condition may have some fun and easy way to treatment. App developers have developed helpful apps to combat phobias and anxiety.
We tend to over think too much.
Thoughts and worries may be recurring than people with anxiety can’t help. These recurring thoughts, those of negative ones especially, are one of the biggest predictor of anxiety.
In this, the Australian Psychological Society has outlined specific ways to manage the thoughts. Example of this is a gentle distraction using pleasant thoughts, doing some mindfulness techniques, through replacement techniques or speaking some coping statements.
Stress and fear from you may feed our own.
Often, people surrounding persons with anxiety may also have the inability to cope with the current situation. Once this social support fails to manage their own actions, they may also project stress and fears which may feed the sufferer and worsen the whole situation. It isn’t always helpful.
Stress is contagious emotion, this has been proven by a new study from the Max Planck Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences and the Technishce Universität Dresden. Once two people share it, they may feed off each other. Although stress is different from anxiety, stress and panic form other people may affect a person with anxiety giving them the problem in coping on their own.
8. Panic attacks are excruciating.
Panic attacks are never convenient. This panic may come with fears and suddenly it becomes huge and unstoppable. All happens after every simple step you took in front of your house. Now you may be unable to do what you have to do. These panic attacks may come out nowhere, sometimes right in the eyes of the public which doubles the inconvenience.
Anxiety is a battlefield where we lose or win at times.
Sometimes, anxiety is a battle that some may lose and some may win. The losing and winning is not something that should entail the public’s judgment. Since anxiety may affect people from all walks of life, it can be debilitating and can impair any person’s life.
Recovery from anxiety though is possible through treatments, education, self management skills and strong support.
Other Anxiety Myths
- Anxiety isn’t real Illness. Anxiety is natural “flight or fight” tendency akin to men, dating back from the Stone Age but anxiety in extreme form can impair daily living.
- Panic Attack may make you faint. Panic and anxiety attacks doesn’t make you faint. Other conditions such as high blood pressure would.
- Carry bag in case of hyperventilating. Carrying paper bag may heighten anxiety more. It’s like pre-empting something to happen. Hyperventilating isn’t necessarily dangerous though. Precautions like this may feed anxiety further and do the opposite of the desired effect.
- Anxiety can’t be treated. It can be treated and for some person, although it can’t be stopped, it can be put under control.
- Anxiety is not common. Anxiety is common. It eats up a big chunk of statistics every year and it happens to a big part of the population all over the world (see link on the study).
- Anxiety will get better over time without the treatment. No. Anxiety may just worsen until treatment is done.
- Drinks and drugs get you through anxiety. Self medication and vices may offer temporary solace, but the morning after can be worse. This will begin a cycle ad pose greater risk for other chronic medical illnesses.
- Therapy will take you years to get better. Newer treatments today can get you the improvement in just a few sessions.
- You can snap out of anxiety with will. It is difficult to snap out of anxiety all by yourself. Help may ease things out.
The Anxiety Recovery Centre Victoria has outlined major treatment options for Anxiety disorder.
- CBT and Behavioural Therapy. Behaviour treatment helps people with anxiety through exposure to fears while CBT helps through mapping of feelings, thoughts and actions as interconnected things and training the mind to resist the problem.
- Deep Breathing Exercises. Various breathing exercises may be learned to ease tension.
- Medications. These medications are prescribed by doctors. Sometimes it may entail side effects (doctors will discuss this with you) and should be stopped slowly at the end of the treatment.
Anxiety is disabling, it’s a fact. It can cripple life and can start social stigma. Help though, is present in so many forms. Across the internet, various site offers help for those who are suffering from the condition. Here are some websites you can tune in to:
beyondblue – an independent and non-profit organisation that offers help in understanding anxiety and depression in Australia. It has helpful forums frequented for first hand help from people suffering from the same condition. The site also offers call and chat services.
AnxietyOnline – internet based treatment clinic through the initiative of the National eTherapy Centre (NeTC) at Swinburne University of Technology and funded by the Federal Department of Health and Ageing. It provides information, clinical assessment, publicly available treatment programs.
SANE – national charity and an independent NGO in Australia that helps people living with mental illness through the website and helpline.
Anxiety Recovery Centre Victoria – statewide specialist mental health organization that provides support and services for people with anxiety and their family through various free services.
eCouch– is a self help interactive program by the Australian National University which has modules for information as well as Lifeline and kids Helpline. It has also help lines for other parts of the world callers.
BlueBoard – an online community for people suffering from depression and anxiety. Same with eCouch, BlueBoard is a program of the Centre for Mental Health Research – The Australian National University.
KidsHelpLine – is run by a not-for-profit organisation and offers a counselling and help line for kids, teens and young adults.