As we continue our dialogue on various health issues permit me to bring to the fore the issue of Anxiety Disorder. This condition, which is often viewed as the “missed illness”, cannot be taken for granted.
You see our mind can be considered our greatest friend and at the same time it can become our biggest enemy.
Persons who suffer with anxiety disorders tend to be fighting their minds more often than anything else in their lives. The reality is that we all get anxious from time to time; when speaking in public for instance or during a personal financial difficulty. We tend to worry and become stressed and depressed. Then we get over our worries and move on with our lives.
Interesting to note though, is that for persons with anxiety a move in this direction is not always that simple. Their minds worry so often that it begins to take over their lives.
HOW COMMON IS ANXIETY?
We may think that it’s not a big deal and it’s not something we have to worry about. However, anxiety is a true medical condition and affects 40 million adults in the U.S. That’s 18 percent of their population. I am quite certain that we are not that far off here in Guyana either. As common as it is in the U.S, only one third of those suffering receive treatment.
My worry is that quite a number of persons in Guyana are not even sure that they have an anxiety disorder. Either they are not sure of what’s going on with them and blame another medical condition, or they are bewildered by their anxiety and abuse medications, drugs, alcohol, others, or sometimes become so overwhelmed and commit suicide.
SYMPTOMS/SIGNS OF ANXIETY
Persons suffering from anxiety may have one or more of the following signs/symptoms:
*Excessive worrying – this is the hallmark of anxiety. Persons with anxiety disorder tend to worry about everyday things, large and small, for most days of their lives.
-Sleep problems – persons with anxiety tend to take their worries to bed regularly. They end up having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
*Muscle tension – anxiety sufferers tend to have near constant muscle aches and stiffness and are prone to muscle and ligament injuries during activity.
*Chronic indigestion- anxiety sufferers are at risk of having irritable bowel syndrome, a condition characterized by stomach aches, cramping, bloating, gas, constipation, and/or diarrhea.
*Stage fright – The fear of addressing a group of persons is so strong in some anxiety sufferers that it overwhelms them. Even if they end up addressing the group, they worry about the event constantly after.
*Self consciousness – persons with anxiety disorder tend to feel like all eyes are on them, and they often experience blushing, trembling, nausea, profuse sweating, or difficulty talking.
*Constant panic attacks – a panic attack is a sudden, gripping feeling of fear and helplessness that can last for several minutes, accompanied by scary physical symptoms such as breathing problems, a pounding or racing heart, tingling or numb hands, sweating, weakness or dizziness, chest pain, stomach pain, and feeling hot or cold. Persons with anxiety tend to have repeated panic attacks.
*Recurrent flashbacks – someone with anxiety may constantly relive traumatic moments of their life and get depressed over it.
*Self-doubt – Persistent self-doubt and second-guessing is a common feature of anxiety disorders.
*Feeling of not belonging – a person with anxiety disorder often feels they are different from everyone and can isolate themselves. Over time they may develop suicidal thoughts which if not addressed, can lead to them taking their lives during a stressful situation.
We all may have one or more of the mentioned signs and symptoms from time to time.
A person with an anxiety disorder will repeatedly experience these episodes, which often overwhelms them. If left untreated, anxiety sufferers can become a victim of their mind and it can lead to catastrophic consequences for them and their loved ones.