Anxiety is a term that is thrown around often. More often than not people use this word without having a full understanding of exactly what it means.
The phrases ‘they have anxiety’ or ‘I’m feeling anxious’ is used to describe a myriad of emotions such as anger, worry, frustration, irritation and fear. ‘Anxiety’ is used to descried a range of mental illness’ that are characterised by persistent and excessive worry in different contexts that interferes with a persons ability to function. It can be easily misinterpreted because ‘anxiety’ is also an everyday feeling that anyone can experience. This can not only confuses the meaning of the condition, but dilute the meaning of the term ‘anxiety’.
Everyone feels anxious from time to time and this is normal human emotion like sadness and happiness. However it is important to understand the difference between the emotion and the disorder. You might feel stressed before a job interview or nervous before taking a test, however these are natural emotions and not necessary a symptom of mental illness. Anxiety as a disorder is extreme apprehension or worry that has become so excessive that it can cause sufferers to dread daily situations. Anxiety refers to frequent feelings of worry, uneasiness or fear that are strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities.
Anxiety is a serious condition that affects over two million Australians in any one year. Besides being an incredibly alarming statistic, few people have a solid understand of the condition, and worse yet, far too few are armed with strategies of what to do if it happens to them, or someone close to them.
The symptoms of anxiety include panic, fear, uneasiness, nausea, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, sleep problems, panic attacks and that’s just to name a few. In fact anxiety looks different on everyone. Symptoms on their own or experienced together often make it difficult for the sufferer to carry on with their daily life and can be overwhelming and disabling. Anxiety can render sufferers to frequent panic attacks and often co-occurs with other mental illnesses like depression and substance abuse. Evidence suggests that environment and biology can contribute to anxiety and some people have a genetic predisposition to the disorder, what is clear though is that anxiety disorders can effect anyone.
So just what do you do if you think you or someone you know might be suffering from anxiety?
There are many resources and help available for people who are suffering from anxiety. These resources can help to educate you about the condition, as well as arm you with strategies to manage it and tests can determine whether or not you do suffer from the condition.
People suffering from anxiety do not need to live in a constant state of crippling fear. In fact anxiety is one of the most manageable and treatable of all the mental illnesses. This can be done through the use of psychological therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in addition to breathing techniques; exercise and mindful meditation are all practical ways that can help manage the condition. Avoiding things like caffeine and mind altering substances can help to avoid amplifying feelings or triggering the condition.
The key thing in treating anxiety is not to suffer in silence. It is incredibly important to seek help from a professional to help you learn to manage the condition. Experts will help you to understand your condition better, learn what triggers it and arm you with tactics to manage it. National help lines like Headspace and Kids Helpline all offer free, private and confidential telephone advice and sites like Lysn offer video chat psychology services for a fee.