I don’t ever remember hearing the word “anxiety” used in regards to mental health while growing up in the Caribbean. As I have mentioned before, mental health wasn’t openly discussed – of course, I would hear family and friends make jokes about that one “crazy” neighbor that went “off.” Growing up, I could always tell that there was something different about me and the way my mind was wired, but I could never really explain it. I was always different in social settings; a little awkward and quiet, constantly fearful or worried in general, but I thought that was just a trait I inherited.
It wasn’t until a few years ago when I began working in a medical information call center when I was able to identify by name the little quirk I grew up with. I spoke with several patients who described their symptoms, which were similar, if not the same things, that I had been experiencing for as long as I could remember. These patients were being treated for anxiety. Imagine the relief I felt when I finally realized that I was not alone. This led me to do some research and reach out to my doctor for some help.
Roughly 40 million American adults, about 18% of the population have anxiety disorder with women being more likely to be affected. Surprisingly only 1/3 of individuals seek professional help. Globally 1 in 3 suffers from anxiety and The WHO reports that anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders worldwide
Maybe it’s due to the stigma or lack of knowledge? I’m not sure…
I’m sure everyone has been anxious before at one time or another. I’m sure you have experienced anxiety while heading to a job interview or going on a first date but that type of anxiety is temporary. When anxiety is constant and does not resolve, then it becomes a problem. At this point, it can be considered a disorder, which can interfere with life and can make living difficult.
The American Psychology Association defines anxiety as an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.
They go on to describe someone with an anxiety disorder as usually having recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. They may avoid certain situations out of worry. They may also have physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, dizziness or a rapid heartbeat.
Unfortunately, anxiety disorder is a broad heading that covers several other disorders including panic disorder, social anxiety, generalized anxiety, post-traumatic stress and obsessive-compulsive
Quite a few persons battle several of these disorders at once, and I am one of those individuals. Over the next few weeks, I want to share my experience with two of these disorders and how I have been coping with anxiety and its effects.