STOP the battle in my mind!

STOP the battle in my mind! By Lee-Anne Van Den Broek

Anxiety is something that we all experience in our lives, and it can indeed be healthy. It can be helpful by keeping us alert and focused, and is a natural bodily response to stress or danger.
However, some people live with high levels of anxiety that cause irrational and excessive fear and worry, interfering with their day-to-day lives. Anxiety on these levels creates a constant and overwhelming sense of unease, and can be a sign of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are serious medical conditions that are characterised by excessive and persistent worry, which are the primary sources of anxiety.

Anxiety disorders can make a person’s life hell and thus interfere with the person’s ability to carry out, or take pleasure in day-to-day life. Often anxiety disorders bring with them depression, increasing the challenges for people living with these conditions. People living with anxiety disorders are often misunderstood, people question their inability to overcome anxiety attacks and bouts of depression, assuming that all anxiety is the same as they have experienced. This is not the case!

Many people that have an anxiety disorder have a genetic vulnerability to developing the condition. Personality can also play a part in the way that a person responds to stressful life events, which may trigger the condition or increase its impact. For a person living with an anxiety disorder, distress is felt a lot of the time, even if there is no obvious reason. An anxiety attack for these individuals can be so severe it is immobilising.

A person living with an anxiety disorder may live with some or all the following:
Persistent, excessive or unrealistic worries
Compulsions and obsessions which they can’t control
Intense and excessive worry about social situations
Panic attacks
An intense, irrational fear of everyday objects and situations

Other symptoms of anxiety include:
A pounding heart
Difficulty breathing
Upset stomach
Choking sensation
Muscle tension
Feeling faint
The shakes

Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental disorders in Australia, with one in four people likely to experience some or all the above symptoms at some point in their lives.
So, the next time you are with a person experiencing anxiety, please don’t jump to the conclusion that they can move past their feelings and racing thoughts just because you can. Life for these individuals is a battle within their own mind each day of their lives, and the best they can do is learn to manage the condition the best that they can. Please be understanding of their condition and approach them with empathy and understanding, not assumptions and judgements.

Anxiety disorders are generally treated with a combination of medication and therapy. Therapies used must be tailored to suit each individual and their symptoms and concerns, because anxiety disorders differ greatly and should not be treated the same. Each person is unique and manages their condition differently, and should always be sure their therapist is working with their experience of anxiety on a personalised level.

Van Den Broek, L. (2017). [blog]. STOP the battle in my mind.
Sane Australia. (2017).

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