A lot of people talk about anxiety with varying degrees of knowledge. Permit me to take a gander at discussing it from a recovering anxious person’s Point of View. And yes, I know you might doubt that there is such a thing as a cessation of anxiety but if you don’t try, you can never know 🤷🏽♀️.
In this article, I will discuss anxiety in detail. The prevalence of it, the types of anxiety, the symptoms, causes, management, treatment, and some prevention tips.
Years ago I was reading a very popular book; Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief and despite Rick Riordan’s mostly successful attempt to make young Percy (he was about 12 when the series started) seem like your everyday, garden variety hero, I kept wondering what would have happened if, for instance, he lost against Ares in the battle, if he got stuck in Hades’ palace forever or if the flying shoes that Luke gave him had pulled him down to… I’m just going to allow you to buy and read the book(s) for yourself. You can get it here. That is a definition of anxiety.
A more serious and accepted definition of it is;
Anxiety is both a mental and physical state of negative expectation. Mentally it is characterized by increased arousal and apprehension tortured into distressing worry, and physically by the activation of multiple body systems all to facilitate response to an unknown danger, whether real or imagined.
For people who would prefer learning through video, I also present Dr. Gabor Maté’s definition. You can watch it here.
There are so many different types of it. Whether it’s me worrying about what might have happened to a rapscallion named Percy Jackson (an imagined character) to other people’s very real fear of what the world might look like in the next 10 years, it is all around us.
Types of Anxiety
Anxiety is all around us and it presents in multiple ways.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
This is defined as worry over a plethora of issues. And then when the issues get resolved, worry over some more issues.
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
Does meeting up with people scare you? And you can’t think of anything worse than getting to know new people? You may have social anxiety disorder. You can read more about it here.
If you have sudden, repeated panic attacks borne of worry, fear, and fast impending doom, you might have a panic disorder.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
A lot of people like to diagnose others with OCD. But what is it? According to the Mayo Clinic, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder consists of lasting and unwanted thoughts that keep coming back and urges/ images that are intrusive and cause distress (paraphrased).
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
You definitely can have PTSD if you were never in the Army or didn’t go to war. You can have PTSD because you saw a terrifying event once and cannot get over it. So many people have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder because their countries are unsafe, at war, or incredibly, terribly mismanaged (👀 🇳🇬). Please pray for Congo, Palestine, Israel, Ukraine, Russia and Nigeria. Or send them good thoughts. We/They very badly need it.
- Physical symptoms: Anxiety has a lot of physical symptoms, including but not limited to; nausea, inability to fall asleep, unexplained pain and weakness, diarrhea, dizziness, etc.
- Emotional symptoms: A deep sincere fear of losing control, guilt, apathy, or complete detachment. Also, deep-rooted fears of embarrassment and subsequent humiliation.
- Behavioral symptoms: Avoidance of certain spaces, people, and situations that could trigger stress or just push you out of your comfort zone.
Causes of Anxiety
It has so many causes. There is a;
- Genetic factor: If members of your family suffer from anxiety, chances are very high that you will be no different.
- Environmental factors: Your environment has a significant role to play in whether you’re a sufferer or not. If for instance, you live in a place where there’s more than enough money, you don’t have to worry about food, security, housing, or other basic amenities, it’s going to be harder for anxiety to overtake you. But if you lack all those things, you will live in constant worry.
- Personality traits: Some personality types are more likely to be sufferers. If you’re very sensitive, introverted, a perfectionist, constantly complaining and worrying about the future or the past, in other words, if you’re very similar to me, anxiety probably has you in a chokehold. I don’t make the rules, I’m just a messenger 🌝😊.
Impact on Life
Anxiety can significantly alter and affect daily life. From calling in sick at work and not meeting deadlines to insomnia and irregular sleep, not being able to connect in social relationships because you fear being judged to getting migraines, stomach bugs, and overall weakness in your physical health, it finds a way to take over your life slowly but totally.
Now let’s get into the fun part. Anxiety management.
Solutions/Coping Mechanisms/Anxiety Management
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): One of the ways to defeat this is by learning every single way it’s planning to come at you and attacking it head-on. And one of the best ways to do that is by learning about it. CBT is a way to do that. It consists of cognitive restructuring, which involves going inside your mind and identifying the most constant anxious thoughts and replacing them with more balanced and realistic ones. It also involves goal setting and problem solving. Think to yourself, if I’m so used to worrying about these things, why don’t I attempt to solve the underlying issues.
- Lifestyle changes: Making positive lifestyle changes works wonders when it comes to anxiety. Regular sleep, a balanced diet incorporating fruits and vegetables, constant exercise, reconnecting with friends, building a strong social support system even if you have to make the first couple of moves, limiting psychoactive substances like weed and cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine, etc. Get involved in something new. In my case, it was learning languages. I currently speak and understand five. Give all the new strategies a try for a month, and then another, and then yet another. It almost completely stops anxiety once you know that you can confront it, sleep, eat something, or prepare for a potluck with your friends, do something new like practice a musical skill, and lean on your social network.
- Mindfulness and relaxation techniques: One of the hardest things you might have to go through is the realization that just because a thought enters into your mind, does NOT mean you have to act on it. Let your thoughts pass through your mind as all thoughts should. Relax. Some very painful thoughts might show up as well. Relax. Some infuriating thoughts. Keep relaxing. You are not your thoughts and your thoughts are not you. Relax. For more on mindfulness, please read this.
- Meditation: Following the previous point is meditation. Mindfulness and meditation are not twins but if they are used in conjunction with each other, it will make your mental health so much better. You can learn more about how to meditate here.
- Medication: I don’t particularly like this one. But in cases of severe anxiety when the person is a danger to themselves or others, I recommend sitting with a psychologist or psychiatrist and figuring out what medications work best. But this should be used only in extreme cases. Medication affects so many things; sleep, concentration, appetite, etc so I recommend it but only in extreme cases.
- Seeking Professional Help
For everyone, I wholeheartedly recommend therapy. It is a game-changer for many. It helps you to confront your fear, pain, rage, and stress in a safe space with someone who will not judge you but rather will lead you to a place of understanding of yourself, your parents, your siblings, and the world.
One of the things anxiety does very well is, it isolates you, makes you feel like you’re abandoned, or you’re not going to catch up or you’re always going to be in a bad place for the rest of your life.
But, therapy pulls you out and shows you that you have a place in the world. And your future is going to be bright and beautiful.
A lot of people are gun-shy about talk therapy. But there are so many more options. I will explore this in full detail at a later time but off the top of my head, there’s Humanistic Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Somatic therapy, Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) and so much more.
Just like diabetes, liver cirrhosis or any other “serious” disease, early detection of anxiety can prove crucial. It is a mental issue so the work has got to be continuous. You have to keep pushing ahead, even when you don’t feel like it, even when your health takes a blow, even in the most stressful situations. You have to talk more positively to yourself, you have to build a strong support system, eat a balanced, nutritious diet (colours of the rainbow, especially green), exercise, get adequate sleep, manage stress and keep making healthy lifestyle choices for yourself.
To delve deeper into ways you should speak to yourself more positively, read my previous article here.
To conclude, anxiety is an insidious enemy. It slides into your life and is so tricky to get out. But you CAN get out. What’s more, you should. Get more sleep. That’s crucial. Eat something nutritious everyday to help with your energy levels. Talk more hopefully and positively to yourself. Be optimistic about the future and remember that your future is big, bright and beautiful.
I love you very much!
🫂🫂🫂 & 😘😘😘