Telling someone with anxiety to “just relax” is like telling someone with depression to “cheer up.” Anxiety disorders affect about 40 million American adults (or about 18% of the population) in a given year,causing them to be filled with fearfulness and uncertainty, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. A person with anxiety is more than just a “nervous person.” Many people with anxiety suffer silently, not addressing their own needs for therapy or treatment. This illness is real and treatable. When a person’s symptoms of anxiety are addressed, he or she can finally accept their life challenges and strive for ways to successfully manage their illness.
When Anxiety Disrupts Life
A little fear or apprehension can feed courage and fire up production-inducing adrenaline. But fear or anxiety that debilitates people, leaving them frozen in their homes or in avoidance of people or places, is an unhealthy mental illness. When anxiety overwhelms someone or interferes with daily routines, it needs to be addressed. Ongoing anxiety can be in the form of obsessions, phobias, panic, or generalized anxiety ignited by daily stresses. Anxiety can disrupt life when people do not know how to mentally manage the fear that subconsciously may be affecting them. Sometimes they do not even know what is causing them to feel anxious.
When Panic Sets In
All types of unaddressed anxiety affect the mind and the body. Ongoing generalized anxiety can cause muscles to tense, breathing to become more difficult and minds to race with restlessness and insomnia. Another type of anxiety, panic, can lead to such extreme feelings of losing control that a person thinks they are having a heart attack External triggers, like a place or situation, can induce fear and a sense of danger that triggers the panic. The mind tells the body to flee the situation and sets off a barrage of physical symptoms. Fear in the subconscious surfaces and causes any of the following symptoms:
- Fear of dying
- Pain in the chest
- Trouble breathing
- Sweating or chills
- Racing heart
If panic attacks are not addressed, those with anxiety will feel more out of control with each attack and the episodes may become more frequent.
How to Live With Anxiety
Many who suffer from anxiety do not seek treatment because they think it’s a weakness that they need to control on their own. However, doctors stress that those with anxiety seek help from friends, family and physicians. Experts suggest that when anxiety starts to make a person feel out of control, that person should find a balance with it. Rather than struggling to annihilate the anxiety, the person should get to know themselves as they live with it and how they can best manage it. Psychotherapy can help a person find strategies for dealing with anxious feelings, thoughts and bodily reactions to them. Visiting a doctor can reassure a patient with anxiety. Receiving a clean bill of health from a doctor can alleviate a person’s fear of dying during a panic attack. Experts suggest that each individual find his or her own relaxation that helps them smile and breathe more easily. Finally, the most important thing for someone with anxiety to do is to address the anxiety and have hope that they can tame it and reel it back in, to resurface only when a legitimate fear lies before them.