There are many different types of anxiety disorders and recently the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental health 5 (DSM5) reclassified these, determining there are actually 12 different types of anxiety disorders. Whilst I am not going to explore these individually, I am asking you to consider the multitude of symptoms associated and challenge your perceptions on anxiety. There exists a misconception that anxiety is simply a sign of somebody being nervous or socially shy. It’s easy to think avoiding situations which may leave us susceptible to anxiety, remedies these issues, but this is incorrect, and avoidance can be counterproductive and more harmful in the long term.
Avoidance is a symptom of anxiety, but what if I were to explain to you that for some people even stepping out of the house exacerbates symptoms of anxiety? Avoidance in this scenario would render an individual a recluse and potentially socially isolate them. Some people will wake up with a general fear that something is going to go wrong. Everyday things most of us take for granted and will do without consciously thinking about, can cause somebody with a generalised anxiety disorder great distress. Avoidance therefore becomes the only option for them, however this in itself causes more anxiety due to consequences of avoiding things. Can you see how this becomes a vicious circle?
Whilst anxiety is a mental health problem, the symptoms can manifest themselves physically. Psychologically anxiety can cause you to feel worried, tired, despondent and affect your sleep. Physically it can cause palpitations, perspiration, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, nausea, stomach cramps, and diarrhoea. Neither of these lists are exhaustive, but hopefully this has increased your knowledge around symptoms to be aware of in yourself and others
Whilst anxiety can have a profound impact on an individual and mixed with depression is the most common mental health condition in the UK, there is support and people do recover. Having medication to address the physical symptoms, working in conjunction with a talking therapy can often help. One of the more successful treatments is using systematic desensitisation (a similar concept to graded exposure), where the individual is slowly exposed to the fear, but in a safe environment. The most important thing to remember is that help is available and anxiety does not need to be permanently life altering. I have detailed a couple of useful websites below.
Thanks for reading and stay safe friends