The most common mental illness today in the United States, anxiety disorders are reportedly experienced by 40 million American adults or 18.1% of the population! Despite the fact that the anxiety affects such a large portion of the population there are a lot of facts surrounding it that are largely unknown. A complex disease that presents with a fairly wide assortment of signs and symptoms, anxiety disorders can take over the lives of those who suffer.
It is said that knowledge is power, and this is definitely true in regard to the world of mental health and mental illness. By speaking up, sharing our experiences and sharing valuable information, such as the information included here, we can break the stigma and empower those who are battling these illnesses every day.
Here are 6 things that you need to know about anxiety:
1. If left unmanaged, feelings of anxiety can grow and evolve into obsessive-compulsive disorder
For those that are dealing with anxiety for a long period of time, constantly questioning everything that you say, do or experience, you may find that you consistently fall back on the same rituals in order to calm your mind and push these thoughts back, out of the way. Over time these rituals can grow and evolve into something far worse. For example, you may find that you are unable to leave the house without first checking the oven exactly three times in order to feel confident that it is turned off and not going to burn your house down. OCD is another disorder that can take over your life if not treated properly. If you believe you may be experiencing experiences that would fit this description, seek a professional opinion.
2. Social anxiety can make it difficult to spend time with other people.
Do you find that you experience your most intense feelings of anxiety when you are around others? If you find yourself getting worried or stressed out in the days leading up to social events, struggling to enjoy yourself while you are around others, and overanalyzing everything you said and did in the days that follow, this could be a sign that the anxiety disorder that you are dealing with is social anxiety. Take a deep breath and focus on the fact that everything is going to go well. Push any thoughts and feelings of worst-case scenarios out of your mind.
3. Your brain always knows if you are dealing with feelings of anxiety, even if your brain has not yet realized it.
While many signs and symptoms of anxiety attacks are experienced in the mind, you may also experience your anxiety manifesting itself in a physical way. This includes, but is not limited to, muscle tension, clenching and unclenching your jaw, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and fidgeting. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, start practicing anxiety management techniques such as breathing exercises in order to avoid a full anxiety attack before it happens.
4. Persistent, unrelenting feelings of anxiety may be a sign of Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
For some people, feelings of anxiety are a response to stressful situations, times of difficulty or challenges in life. For others, however, there appears to be no real explanation for your feelings of anxiety. They are consistent, haunting your every thought and experience in life. In fact, they become so deeply rooted in our life that they affect everything that you do including your career, schooling, relationships and overall health. If you find that you are dealing with feelings of anxiety that will not go away it is advised that you seek out a psychiatrist or therapist.
5. Panic attacks can be completely overwhelming.
When you are experiencing a panic attack it is not just a passing feeling or minor inconvenience. Panic attacks can be incredibly overwhelming, taking over every aspect of your body, mind, and soul. They can come on suddenly, with no warning. You may feel yourself suddenly becoming overheated, your heart rate racing and struggling to breathe. You may feel paralyzed, or as though you physically hurt all over. You want nothing more than to get out of your current situation, but you feel trapped, unable to escape. Stop and take a few deep breaths, calming your mind and centering your thoughts.
6. Feelings of anxiety may actually be a cover for anger.
While anxiety may be misunderstood, there is a general feeling of sympathy and compassion towards those who are experiencing it. The same cannot be said for feelings of anger, an emotion that is judged and feared in our society. In order to avoid the potential consequences of expressing anger with those around us, you may find that you subconsciously resort to anxiety instead. Take some time on your own to stop and listen to your heart, finding the true underlying source of your feelings. It is only through finding the cause that you will be able to work through and release your anxiety.