Misconceptions About Anxiety Disorder

I read a lot of articles pertaining to Anxiety and I still find there are misconceptions about the illness. I felt the need to write another article because I’m speaking up for not just myself but those who are afraid to because they fear the stigma attached to the term, “Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Depression, AND Mental Illness.” I’m waiting for the day they re-classify these illnesses as ‘brain disorders or illnesses,’ rather than using the term MENTAL. Just because someone has been diagnosed with a mental illness doesn’t mean they are mentally incapable of being productive throughout their lives. It doesn’t mean the person(s) are crazy. And, let me emphasize, it does not equate to a person being weak.

This is the worst thing you could tell a person with Anxiety Disorder.

Everyone gets anxious but there is a difference between becoming anxious, even if you feel like you experienced a full blown panic attack. “Becoming anxious is part of life and everyone experiences it from time to time.” People who suffer from Anxiety Disorder battle daily to put on a happy face and pretend as if nothing is wrong. Anxious feelings come from an external force we are aware of, Anxiety disease differs greatly. Please understand, I’m by no means trying to diminish the stress people feel when anxious. I just feel that people who’ve never had the illness can’t truly understand there is a big difference between feeling anxious on occasion and Anxiety, the illness.

The brain is always in a fight or flight mode

The person with Anxiety Disorder feels tense, has intrusive thoughts and other physical symptoms every day.

What are intrusive thoughts?

Intrusive thoughts are just as they sound, intrusive. A person with Anxiety disorder will tend to worry about the same issue over and over. It feels like a merry go round inside the brain that won’t stop, there’s no way of getting off this ride which is causing dizziness and vertigo the longer it continues. Chemical messengers are misfiring and wreaking havoc on the brain and physical body. Anxiety left untreated leads to depression. Likewise, depression left untreated leads to anxiety.

If you suffer from Anxiety disorder, you do know Anxiety, and it’s not your friend. If you become anxious over upcoming events on occasion, going to the Doctor, worrying about an exam or taking an exam that’s an anxious feeling if it’s not a constant in your life.

There are peaks and valleys when afflicted with Anxiety Disorder. I was fairly symptom-free for about 5 years and I thought I was finally overcoming this affliction. Sadly, once I hit another decade in my life, the anxiety came back without warning or compassion. It’s possible that life events along with hormonal fluctuations allowed this demon to return. I’m not going to lie, it’s hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel when you wake up daily feeling as though you’re shaking from the inside out as soon as your feet hit the floor. It’s hard to see that light when you fear going just about anywhere because you might have a panic attack. It’s hard to see the light when you feel so physically drained from trying so hard to fight or even ignore the symptoms that plague you daily. It’s hard to see the light when others tell you to just ‘chill, I worry too and this is what helps me, you just need to (fill in the blank here), I know how you feel, I get anxious before a meeting but here’s what I’ve learned to do (again, fill in the blank).” Yes, these words are well intended but it almost feels like a slap in the face, an insult and a lack of education about this disease versus feeling anxious.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

What I’ve learned

5 Things People Don’t Understand About Your Anxiety
Example Below from the linked article above.
“Like stress, some anxiety is natural (and even helpful at times), but an anxiety disorder could impair your quality of life. It is a very real illness. There are multiple, valid types of anxiety disorders, ranging from obsessive-compulsive disorder to specific phobias. If you are living with an anxiety disorder, you are not “just a worrywart.”
Source:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/unwritten/5-things-most-people-dont_b_8236602.html
  • They are still learning what triggers panic attacks and Chronic Anxiety Disorder (Also known as Generalized Anxiety Disorder).
  • Medications do not cure this disorder.
  • There are different types of therapy to help re-train the brain and everyone thinks they know what will work best for you, this is well intended but we are all wired differently. What may work for one person may not necessarily work for another.
  • Positive thoughts don’t make Anxiety Disorder disappear. If it were that easy, people wouldn’t be suffering, they would not seek therapy and they wouldn’t need medication. Positive thoughts are helpful in the long run but they don’t rid you of the illness.
  • It’s an illness, not nervousness! It’s an illness, not a weakness. It’s an illness, not craziness. It’s an illness.
  • When you feel at your lowest and it feels as though it’s hard to go on, you’ve lost all hope- there are professionals who can help you to get over that hump even if it does return. It’s important to remember, there is hope when you seek help.
  • You are not your illness. You are not a stigma.
  • People will tell you they understand and then expect you to just relax or think good thoughts- remember, that’s why you need a professional because they will help you to cope and can help those closest to you to understand the illness if they are open to learning more about it.
  • The brain is an organ, organs malfunction and many times there is no rhyme or reason as to why they do malfunction. If it were the heart, kidneys or another major organ, those closest to you would probably be jumping to help and become more informed. I’ve learned that’s why this illness is just that more frustrating- it’s an illness and brushed off as a defect or weakness. Yes, I repeated the term weakness more than once because it’s not a weakness.

Anxiety Disorder has a neurological and genetic basis according to studies I’ve read and my Doctor just confirmed this with me last week.

Remember to seek help if Anxiety is interfering with your life. Anxiety Disorder can be crippling if left untreated. Remember there are people who are trained to help and there are people who DO care and understand. Lets all help to end the stigma and show compassion instead of handing out unwanted advice, no matter how well intended it is. If you’ve never had this illness, the best advice you can give a person is to ask them to seek help and let them know you care without any conditions attached.

We live in a society bloated with data yet starved for wisdom. We’re connected 24/7, yet anxiety, fear, depression and loneliness is at an all-time high. We must course-correct. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/e/elizabethk643324.html?src=t_anxiety

Images Courtsey of — Google images:

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety

http://www.healthyplace.com/images/stories/insight/quotes/anxiety-quote-12-1-healthyplace.jpg

Originally posted on beBee.com

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