We all feel anxious from time to time, but lately we have all been feeling anxious a lot more. Of course, you could justify your anxiety by looking at the state of the world. The economy is slumping, the dollar is falling, oil prices are rising, food prices are rising, the weather is getting worse everywhere. There are millions of reasons to be anxious in today’s world, but could it be something worse? Do I have an anxiety disorder?
The word Disorder in itself is enough to make you anxious. Words have a lot of power and often the word disorder implies something terribly wrong. Disorder itself is defined as a condition in which there is a disturbance of normal functioning. It sounds very clinical but the definition itself gives us the answer to deal with Anxiety!
Our biggest anxiety is that the anxiety itself is abnormal, strange, or possibly even insane. When saddled with the label ‘disorder’ we suddenly start to think of ourselves differently, act differently, and even become more anxious about what was once very simple. Without even realizing it we create more anxiety about our anxiety. This is what I call the downward spiral and it is not fun. There is only one way out.
Choice. If you read the last paragraph carefully you will see that we are choosing to think differently about ourselves. As soon as we decide there are reasons to be anxious, we become anxious. As hard as it might be to believe, your anxiety attacks start hours before you have them. They start when you start becoming afraid of having an anxiety attack, when you become afraid of being anxious around others, and even when you tell yourself that its hard to get over your anxiety.
Remember that Anxiety is NOT a disturbance of normal function. Anxiety is quite normal. The beast your fighting gets bigger every time you decide its bigger. Stop taking it seriously, stop fearing your own fear, and the beast disappears forever.
If you find yourself troubled by anxiety, you’re not alone. Perhaps you’re struggling with Generalized Anxiety Disorder…maybe from panic attacks (or anxiety attacks)…or maybe you’re here to simply find out how you can get more help and support for your symptoms of anxiety.
There are many available treatment programs for anxiety, and a lot of them are very effective. They may also be somewhat costly – well worth it if relief is found. But outside of these treatments for anxiety, there is a different level of support than can also be very useful for someone experiencing unbearable symptoms of anxiety. These resources may also cost less and are available to anyone!
These resources are NAMI, or the National Alliance on Mental Illness, crisis lines, and Anxiety support groups. You can talk to your therapist (if you have one) about these resources and they should be able to provide you with information about one or all of these. Most Counselors provide patients with a crisis line in the event they are not doing well, perhaps feeling suicidal, and need someone to talk to more immediately.
Crisis lines are available for anyone in “crisis,” as the name implies. Of course, crisis can mean different things to different people. But it is definitely a great free tool for anyone experiencing serious anxiety attacks, or having serious symptoms of anxiety. Crisis lines employ Counselors who are trained in mental health issues and are equipped to walk you through an episode of anxiety (i.e. anxiety or panic attack, intense fear of leaving the house etc.). Crisis lines are also an excellent avenue for finding other resources you may need such as anxiety support groups, the nearest Emergency rooms (if really feeling out of control), to name just a few. You can find the crisis line number in any phone book, or by searching online.
Anxiety support groups are another way to reach out to others who are experiencing the same discomfort as you. Groups can be an excellent way of meeting new friends and of connecting with people who really know what you’re going through. Groups will often have a facilitator who will set up an agenda for the group, but he or she usually acts more as a mediator. You can find support groups by searching on-line for your geographic region, or by checking your local phone book. Many of these are free as well. If you run stuck, try calling your local crisis line.
NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) is a great resource for all mental health related questions you may have. It is composed of people who have been touched by some form of mental illness, either themselves or a family member. They have a true understanding of what it’s like to have a mental illness, and focus on providing the best education and supports for those experiencing a mental illness such as anxiety disorders. Check out NAMI’s website at http://www.NAMI.org for more information. From the website, you’ll be able to find contact information for your local NAMI chapter. You can also call their National phone number at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264).
I hope that some combination of all the resources described above will give you the information and tools needed to help manage your anxiety. There are many excellent treatments for anxiety, and I encourage you to continue researching until you find what will work for you! More information about anxiety can be found at http://www.symptomsofanxietydisorder.com
You should not mistake panic disorder symptoms with panic attack symptoms. These are two very different conditions, with distinctive characteristics and different health effects. However, one condition leads to the other as a series of anxiety attacks will ultimately cause panic disorder. In other words, constant attacks beget disorder, a serious condition that can lead to loss of life through heart attack and related actions.
Panic disorder symptoms are often an exacerbated manifestation of panic attack symptoms. These symptoms include unanticipated & repetitive attacks, exaggerated fear and continual worry about experiencing an attack, behavioral change, detachment from reality, nausea and accelerated heartbeat. People experiencing these symptoms usually have illusions about going crazy or even dying. Some people go to the extent of even avoiding certain places and even shunning some of their friends and relatives due to the fear of experiencing an anxiety attack.
Please note that panic disorder symptoms are not dangerous but the effects of the disorder itself can be catastrophic and sometimes fatal. In addition, the disorder can coexist with other psychological and cognitive disorders, thus, it is very important that these other conditions are ruled out through medical examination and testing before making a final diagnosis. Once a diagnosis of panic disorder is established, it is vital that you seek treatment as soon as possible, to ensure that you avoid experiencing the disheartening effects of panic attacks.
The conditions that lead up to panic disorder symptoms are obviously panic attacks, but the main cause of the attack is not known. Medical researches and insights show that panic episodes and in essence, panic attacks/disorder is a psychological condition. Some psychologists relate the disorders to hereditary factors and other external factors such as stress due to loss of a loved one or a close friend. If left unattended, this disorder may have a major negative impact on your life, as you would develop unrealistic phobias.
Treating panic disorder symptoms is now much easier than earlier thought. Furthermore, treatment is now available through natural techniques and remedies rather than using drugs and medicine. Medical drugs do not address the root causes of the disorder and panic attacks, as this has been indicated in previous statistical health information.