Anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses, affecting some 2 million Australians in any given year. However, common though it is, there’s still a lot of social stigma around this illness (and mental illness in general), making it uncomfortable for some people to seek treatment. The idea that one should just “toughen up” or “get over it” abounds in our society. It’s important to remember that this disorder is a very real mental illness, and just like any physical illness it takes more than a mere force of will to overcome it.
Anxiety is a mental illness that requires professional treatment to overcome.
What is Anxiety?
Everyone experiences an anxious emotional state now and then. When preparing for an interview or an important test, it’s normal to feel “nerves,” and when dealing with a critical situation in one’s life, high levels of anxiety are expected. But as a mental illness, anxiety (or Generalised Anxiety Disorder) can best be described as an ongoing state of stress and worry that may not be related to external events. In other words, you may feel terribly worried on a consistent basis, but often times without any cause.
Symptoms of Anxiety
Generalised Anxiety Disorder can manifest in an array of different, and sometimes contradictory symptoms. The following are some of the most common.
- restlessness, or “nerves”
- difficulty sleeping
- muscle tension
- emotional outbursts
Another form sometimes referred to is panic disorder, and can also include panic attacks. Panic attacks can include heart palpitations, shortness of breath, sudden intense feelings of fear, or rapid heartbeat.
Social Anxiety is yet another form of the illness. It can include the symptoms listed above, as well as:
- extreme shyness
- extreme self-consciousness
- avoiding public situations
- anticipation of social events
- feelings of panic when interacting with others
Facts About Anxiety
It is a mental illness and does not reflect one’s character, intelligence, or will power.
It can sometimes go hand in hand with another common mental illness, depression. Because the symptoms of anxiety and depression are often opposites (“I feel so worried and panicked” and “I can’t gather the energy to get out of bed”) it can be difficult for others to understand.
Like any illness, some people will sometimes experience times when they seem unaffected or at least less inhibited by their symptoms.
In some cases, the symptoms can be caused by unrelated physical conditions, such as hyperthyroidism or certain medication side effects.
Anxiety can manifest in a number of different ways, including extreme shyness.
How is Anxiety Treated?
If you suspect you may be suffering from this illness, a qualified psychologist can evaluate your situation and make a diagnosis. Once a diagnosis has been made, treatment can begin. Treatment will often include psychotherapy to examine the underlying causes of your anxiety. Often as children we are not taught how to respond to stress properly, which can contribute to anxiety disorder as an adult. Your psychologist will also help you re-train yourself to cope with the situations that lead to anxiety.
Group therapy sessions can help those suffering from social anxiety.
Social anxiety can be treated on an individual basis, but it’s often helpful to work through issues in a group setting.
How Restore Psychology Can Help
If you’re ready to see a psychologist who can help determine whether or not you’re suffering from anxiety and work with you to develop a plan for treatment, please reach out to me today.