Honestly, the title is misleading. I’m not sure you can truly understand anxiety unless you yourself have experienced it, or if someone you love lives with it everyday. Someone I love suffers from an anxiety disorder. And contrary to what some people think, it is not just a case of being shy or nervous, it is a medical condition. Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics and brain chemistry.
Everyone feels anxious now and then. It’s a normal emotion. Anxiety disorders are different, though. For some, anxiety can be overwhelming and prevent them from doing the things they love.
I’ve personally experienced a panic attack. It was intense and scary. However, it was nothing compared to watching someone I love experience them on an almost daily basis. My heart breaks with her physical and emotional pain. I know what this intelligent, hard working young woman is capable of, but her anxiety tells her differently. The anxiety does its best to try to swallow up her funny, kind personality.
I try to tell her ‘you will be fine’. Her anxiety tells her otherwise. I feel horrible when my words can’t comfort her and helpless when I can’t make it better for her. After a very rough time and a lot of research…finally a diagnosis. Her anxiety disorder is a physical, medical condition.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older. If one or both of your parents suffer from an anxiety disorder then there’s an even higher chance that you’ll experience it as well. Women being more likely to be affected than men.
We have all experienced occasional anxiety as a normal part of life. However, people with anxiety disorders have intense and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. From a medical standpoint, anxiety becomes problematic when it becomes so severe, frequent, or longstanding as to prevent someone from fulfilling their occupational or social obligations. This can result in feelings of guilt and only adds to the feelings of loss of control. The sufferer now has feelings of guilt for not only how their anxiety is affecting their own life but their loved ones as well.
My intent is not to bombard you with medical facts. My hope is that we would all be more open minded and empathetic to others daily struggles. Even if you can’t fully understand what they are going through, just offer your support. You have no idea how much your kind words mean to someone.