The Age of Anxiety
Anxiety is one of the most talked about mental health conditions of our time. Especially since the pandemic, we have more uncertainty and apprehension about our lives and future. This has developed into what Jeffrey Kluger, Time Magazine has described as an ‘emotional pandemic’.
Did you know that anxiety disorders are the most common of all mental health conditions?
It is the leading cause of visits to the physician. It is estimated that one in 10 Canadians suffers from this condition. Unfortunately, most people that suffer from anxiety do so in silence. As a psychotherapist it is vital that we break this code of ‘silence’ and speak out.
Suffering from anxiety can feel frightening and overwhelming. You may feel that no one else can possibly understand what you are going through. It can be a cruel and lonely experience. The face of anxiety can manifest into cognitive distortions (I am weak and useless, I will never get better, life is hopeless and I am helpless).
It also can also be observed in our moods and behaviour, such as irritability, anger, lack of interest in activities, obsessive compulsive tendencies, sleep disturbances, memory lapses and eating disorders. No one is immune to this condition. Although it may vary in severity and symptomatology, if left untreated it becomes more aggressive and invasive in our lives.
All too often, people mistake these disorders for mental weakness or instability. The social stigma attached to mental illness often prevents those with anxiety conditions from asking for help. We have become quite adept at masking our anxiety. A common reaction from others is that ‘you seem fine to me’. This comment is discouraging and only serves to silence people. The outcome is that they continue to submerge their feelings as they feel they have no legitimate reason to be feeling anxious.
The good news is that these disorders can be successfully treated so it is important to recognize the difference between being anxious in response to a real event, and an anxiety disorder which produces fear or distress that is out of proportion to the situation. (Mental Health, Government of Canada)
Sometimes doing something simple, whether you feel motivated or not, can at least give you a sense of hope and accomplishment.
It is important to remember that there is no one particular cure or panacea from this disorder. Rather it is the management of the condition that can bring relief and an improved quality of life.
Here are some suggestions:
Give your day some structure like setting up a simple routine
Connect with at least one friend or family member a day
Try some mild form of exercise or meditation, if that works for you
Consider a hobby (playing or listening to music, painting, taking an online course)
Consider changing your diet. Deficiencies in vitamin D have been known to impact mood.
Examine what may be contributing to your anxiety (your work, family issues etc,)
Be attentive to negative thinking habits. Rather identify your strengths and things in your life that you are thankful for.
Create a self-care routine
It is vital that you share your feelings with someone you trust
Talk to your physician
Reach out to a mental health specialist
Always remember that you are not alone
Try and avoid excessive googling and social media groups
Start believing that you can win over anxiety