Updated: Jun 20, 2019
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*I would like to start with stating, one of my biggest pet peeves is when mental health disorders are used as every day slang to describe, what ever the person is trying to describe, besides a legitimate diagnosis.*
Anxiety, good ol' anxiety. I mean, not only is there Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), but there is Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD), Selective Mutism, Agoraphobia, Panic Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, just to name a few. Amazing isn't it? How we use terminologies that are actual disorders, with no regard for those who actually have, said disorder.
I suffered severe anxiety/panic disorder and depression (it is not uncommon to suffer a dual diagnosis, such as anxiety and depression) as an adolescent. Less than a handful of people know that because it's not something I talk about, it is times I have put behind me. My first panic attack was in middle school, 6th grade year in the hang out area after lunch, something just wasn't okay then before I knew it was having a full blown panic attack. I had several panic attacks and ruled out medical reasons firstly, before I was told I was suffering from anxiety/panic disorder and depression.
To be sincere, I catch myself giggling to myself at times when I see where I am now, who I have developed into as an adult, my mindset, how good life can be to me even in the hardest times. When I was 12-15 suffering with anxiety and depression silently, I realized simultaneously that I was not willing to talk to people about my emotions no matter how brutal my emotions were (and believe me, they were brutal but I understood them) and ironically enough [...] it was then that I realized I wanted to become a therapist, raise awareness and speak publicly one day (I do hope to speak on a Ted Talk one day, a girl can dream ya know).
I haven't suffered from severe anxiety since I was 17 but not to be fooled, I do too like the average Dan, have episodes where I feel anxiousness and heaviness in my chest due to environmental stressors. School, bills, work, managing time, etc. To be completely transparent, I've had much more anxiety these past several weeks due to the constant thoughts of getting those high GRE (Graduate Record Examination) scores, getting accepted into the following program (which BTW I haven't even decided on a state yet so, grrr), all the adult worries.
One thing that needs to be understood is the level of seriousness in Generalized Anxiety Disorder and "normal" (what IS normal? I hate the word, but that'll be its own post). Someone with GAD is more likely to obsess and overthink about a recital that is 7 weeks away, as opposed to someone with "normal" anxiety who simply would probably just not let the idea of going to that recital go until the moment they are on that stage. Someone with "normal" anxiety might worry about a specific event, such as a work deadlines, school worry causing exam, or upcoming significant stress, medical appointment. As opposed to someone with GAD; constant, chronic, and unfounded worry causing extreme stress, lack of attendance to social activities and interfering with work, school, or family.
The reason why I get so bothered when individuals carelessly throw out terminologies such as, anxiety disorder (or any disorder really, but anxiety is the topic here), just to describe an inconvenience because it is has become a 'fad' term. (Don't ask me where anyone has ever gathered the thought in their head that having anxiety is even remotely cool).
Anxiety can not only cause issues to arise in your personal life (Ex. relationships, family, friends) but it can affect your professional life (Ex. work, school, business arrangements). Anxiety can make you leave a room because your mind is so empty with lack of thoughts, that it overwhelms you, anxiety can make you stay awake for hours on end, that shortness of breath that makes your chest feel like there is a block on it, the hours spent dwelling on whether or not you can do anything to get rid of that feeling. Which you can; talk.
One thing anxiety can do (and I would like to state this can and does vary per person and circumstances) is suppress your appetite. Some individuals may binge eat due to anxiety, others don't eat. For days a time, sometimes even weeks. And I know when you hear someone hasn't eaten in weeks your immediate reaction is "OMG, are you okay??" "You need to eat" "At least have some soup" "Have a protein shake" but when that individual tells you they don't want to because they aren't hungry or thirsty, sit and think, what could be going on that X person isn't eating? What could be causing this major decrease in appetite and desire? Perhaps telling a person how skinny and "malnourished" isn't a nice way to approach someone about their weight loss, with no knowledge on how their weight loss occurred.
Some Statistics on Anxiety:
Anxiety disorders are treatable through treatment and/or medication (depending on severity), yet only 37% of those suffering seek treatment
Women are more susceptible to be affected as men. GAD often has a dual-diagnosis with major depression.
Did you know women are twice as likely to suffer from anxiety and depression than men?
Medical illnesses may cause anxiety due to a separate medical condition. Certain substances, such as marijuana, can also cause Substance/Medication-Induced Anxiety Disorder.
In children it is often seen, anxiety disorders also often co-occur with other disorders such as depression, eating disorders, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Anxiety disorders affect 25.1% of children, ranging in ages 13 and 18 years old. Studies have shown that children with untreated anxiety disorders have a higher chance to perform poorly in school, miss out on social experiences, and engage in substance use.
Children with GAD tend to be very harsh on themselves and dislike making mistakes, they strive for perfection. It is likely that they also seek constant approval or reassurance from others.
Anxiety is not like saying "fetch". Using mental health disorders, whether it be anxiety, depression, ocd, bipolar, etc. to describe life inconveniences is never going to happen or be cool, just like fetch never happened! (hehe if you catch the Mean Girls reference)
If you've read this far, I appreciate it so much and would love feedback!
"There's just so much going on in my mind, sometimes I can't keep up with what is going on around me" - Amanda Jade Briskar