Understanding Anxiety

Understanding Anxiety

‘I’ve got 99 problems and 86 of them are completely made up scenarios in my head that I’m stressing about for absolutely no logical reason’ I recently came across this quote/ meme on Pinterest and thought to myself ‘wow, I’ve never related to something more!’ which eventually led me to wonder whether others go through the same experience, so come along as I attempt to understand this rather common but less recognised condition/mental disorder.

To start off, what really is anxiety? According to the Oxford dictionary, anxiety is ‘the state of feeling nervous or worried that something bad is going to happen’ and it could be one of many identified types ranging from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Some other identified conditions include social anxiety, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, specific phobias etc. It is identified as the most widespread mental health condition in the world with statistics stating that 1 in 13 people having experienced at least some degree of anxiety. This commonality is very reason why I think we should know more about it, not only can we then better understand why some people might find certain things difficult than others but also to accommodate those that do face these difficulties to have a better life experience!

To the question of ‘what causes anxiety?’ there really is no one conclusive answer. Commonly identified causes include genes where anxiety runs in the family, trauma where one particular event or a chain thereof triggers anxiety, brain chemistry as some research suggest that anxiety disorders could be linked to faulty circuits in the brain and environmental stress referring to stressful events one is or have had gone through. While distinct types of anxiety are caused by different sources, there are some commonly identified symptoms of anxiety which we will now look into. 

It must be noted that we all do normally worry about certain things in life like health, money, or family problems, it is the extreme that is identified as the anxiety disorder. It involves more than worrying temporarily and the symptoms may well interfere with the daily activities of the individual. Now, as I mentioned above the symptoms vary greatly according to the type of anxiety, and as I’m focusing on Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), we’ll take that into account.  It involves a constant feeling of anxiousness or dread and may lead one to feel restless, wound-up or on edge. Having difficulty concentrating on matters, constant fidgeting, and having headaches, muscle-aches or being irritable too are commonly noticed. One may also have difficulty communicating as they feel rather difficult to express their opinions, speak up or alternatively feel the need to explain themselves too much. However, there are also varied degrees of anxiety namely: mild anxiety, moderate anxiety, severe anxiety, and panic level anxiety, which will be dependent upon a multitude of factors.

Now, the big question… is it treatable? Does it go away? What can I do to better manage it? Well to answer these questions, it is commonly believed that anxiety isn’t completely curable but is very treatable. Most patients suffering from anxiety can reduce or manage their symptoms with a better understanding of GAD and help from their surroundings. It is always recommended to get professional help and in addition, the following lifestyle changes could be accommodated. Meditation is identified as a key solution to avoid feeling overwhelmed or lose concentration and physical activities such as walking, and yoga too have proven to be a great success! Prioritising your sleep and taking time off to engage in hobbies and explore different interests may also fair you well. Changing your eating habits to accommodate a healthier eating style and limiting or avoiding the use of alcohol and recreational drugs, quitting smoking too may be ideal solutions to those that struggle with GAD.

I think it’s also important we know why recognising that you may have GAD, or any other type of anxiety is important. As anxiety could lead you to fall behind on certain aspects such as socialising, communicating etc, it is obvious that having an explanation as to why you may find certain things more challenging than your counterparts would then help you to identify what you could do to help yourself. It is crucial that we, in these challenging times, help each other though our struggles to be healthier and happier as a community! In light of that, it’s important to understand that problems coming our way always have solutions at a closer reach than we imagine, and that there really is not a lot achieved by rushing through your life as good things take time! So, to allow you some comfort, I’ll leave you with these words:

“I promise you nothing is as chaotic as it seems. Nothing is worth diminishing your health. Nothing is worth poisoning yourself into stress, anxiety, and fear.”― Steve Maraboli

Rtr. Sajani Jayasinghe

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