Imagine being in severe pain or fracturing a bone and your friends and family fail to acknowledge it in order to provide you with immediate treatment and diagnose you with any ‘serious’ physical illness. Anxiety and depression are not any different from the mentioned scenario. Patients report that they feel like they are trapped in a small box with no light or a sign of anyone to help you.
According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (2018), one in five American citizens, i.e. 43.8 million, are suffering from some kind of mental illness, out of which 9 million are seriously mentally sick which affects their overall performance; while 21.4 percent are between the ages of 13-18. Yet, the issue of mental illness is ignored by a majority of people and have never been considered as a serious problem.
People often relate anxiety with “unnecessary stress”, “exhaustion and exertion”, “nervousness”, and blaming the patient for his suffering. Nevertheless, a patient has little to no control over his feelings, sensitivity and thought process. An individual suffering from anxiety shows an abnormal behavior and their daily tasks and performance being affected by their stress, nervousness, and constant paranoia. (Herrman, H., Saxena, S., & Rob, M. 2014).
While patients of anxiety disorder are haunted by their thoughts and internal negativity, they are constantly for granted by the people that they interact with on a daily basis including their family and friends who don’t take them seriously or respect their sensitivity. High levels of anxiety have led to permanent brain damage, heart diseases, other physical illness and suicides which impact the whole community (Prince, M., Patel, V., Saxena, S., Maj, M., Maselko, J., Phillips, M. R., & Rahman, A. 2007). Hence, the problem of anxiety disorder is serious and requires to be addressed.
Mental Illness and anxiety cases are rising at a rapid rate, affecting millions of people including the ones who are closely related to the people suffering from anxiety disorder. Even though the problem has led to serious and extremely damaging consequences a large number of people fail to acknowledge it.
What is Anxiety Disorder?
Anxiety can be defined as an uncontrollable feeling of persistent stress, overreacting to small situations, nervousness and fearing a failure. The psychiatric disease of anxiety disorder refers to showing extreme fear and worry for an everyday situation including social interaction, basic responsibilities, preparing for a test or project, or facing small challenges, which results in panic attacks and extreme abnormal behavior (Beck, A. T., Emery, G., & Greenberg, R. L. 2005).
The disorder is a serious illness like any other physical illness such as diabetes, cancer or disability. Mental disability is the malfunction and failure of the most important organ of a human body i.e. the brain. Therefore, patients with anxiety often show irregular attitude, aggressiveness, overreaction, and indecisiveness.
There are multiple forms of anxiety disorder, which share the common feature of excessive fear and worry. These include separation anxiety that is related to homesickness and the distance from family, friends, and familiarity. Selective Mutism is another type of anxiety disorder which is diagnosed with an inability to speak n social platforms and interact with people. Moreover, anxiety disorder also favors a specific form of phobia from different things and situations such social phobia, agoraphobia, panic disorder and many other issues that affect a person’s life and overall performance.
Depression vs. Anxiety
Due to the improved attempts at spreading mental health awareness and discussing depression on multiple platforms, more people are able to acknowledge depression as a serious illness and its connection to suicide and other disability that prove to be permanent damages to the brain and the rest of the human body.
Depression is a feeling of constant and inevitable sadness that haunts a person and influence their abilities. The illness of depression encourages extreme despair, hopelessness, demotivation, pessimism, and lack of interest in life, which influences their daily activities, social life and success rate. According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America (2018), 90% of Americans recognize depression as a serious illness and its direct relation to suicide.
Anxiety, on the other hand, is equally a serious mental health issue that is not acknowledged by a majority of people. Even though anxiety is closely related to suicide rates, chronic pain, migraines, sleep disorders and a number of mental disorder and physical disabilities, the illness is often associated with overacting, un-required paranoia and ‘drama’.
Depression and anxiety are two such mental illness problems that are not easily diagnosed and the symptoms are often ignored or confused with temporary sadness and worry. While depression has won the race when it comes to awareness, anxiety is more popular among people and specifically children between the ages of 13-18 and young adults.
Causes of Anxiety Disorder
It is crucial to realize that anxiety is something everyone feels at one or more points in their lives. The disorder should not be confused with everyday anxiety that is very common among individuals. Everyday anxiety includes worrying about bills, workload, academic responsibilities, temporary sadness caused by personal problems, feeling socially awkward in a certain position or at a certain time once in a while, stressing about a big test or project or worrying about a real danger and inevitable crisis.
Anxiety can be caused by depression and both of the illnesses working together can be extremely painful mentally for the patient. Any emotional trauma caused by a major event that leads a person to severe sadness and permanent influence on a person’s mind. Additionally, anxiety can be closed with heart diseases that make a person more sensitive and emotionally unstable; other physical diseases like diabetes, hyperthyroidism, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, drug abuse or withdrawal, or any type of physical pain (“Yes. Anxiety Is Very Serious And Here’s The Proof”, 2018).
Anxiety is also a sickness that is inherited and people who have blood relatives with a similar disorder have a higher chance of being a target of anxiety disorder. Moreover, a family environment that causes extreme depression and promotes domestic abuse will result in either depression or anxiety disorder.
Consequences and Seriousness of Anxiety
Anxiety is one of the most dangerous types of illness which doesn’t only lead a person to commit suicide but be involved in drugs, crimes, violence, extreme stress and abnormal behavior that affects their well-being.
Anxiety disorder can cause severe panic attacks at unusual times which makes a person think they are about to die or something terrible and inevitable is going to happen. The overwhelming feeling fear and worry sends an individual into a serious crisis of panic and helplessness. Panic attacks are extremely dangerous and closely related to heart failure and death.
Mental illness and anxiety disorder are the enemies of an individual’s immune system. It can make a person weaker emotionally and physically and prone to diseases such as stomach ache, migraines, and breathing problems. This is because the brain is always in a panic state that affects its responses to different issues.
According to a study, about 70 percent of the suicide rates are caused by anxiety disorders and depression. This is because depression makes a person hopeless from life but anxiety leads to taking bad decisions in life in fear of something horrible happening or escaping a situation through death that is inevitable and emotionally or physically unbearable (Nepon J, Belik S-L, Bolton J, Sareen J 2010).
Patients with anxiety disorder find themselves uninterested in everyday activities or things that used to excite them before such as food, a hobby, sex, and academics. Every activity becomes a stressful project, which they fear they might fail. The high level of stress affects their performance and results in an actual failure in a task which they could’ve have succeeded in. This results in further lack of self-confidence and igniting anxiety levels.
Studies conducted by Harvard Medical School (2018), prove that individuals suffering from anxiety disorder are more likely to be hospitalized due to the amount of stress they take which influences their physical health. Repeated anxiousness means your immune system is more vulnerable to viral infections. Moreover, the chronic respiratory disease is reported at a higher rate among anxiety disorder patients. The study also revealed that vaccinations are less effective on individuals suffering from such a mental sickness.
Anxiety illness is the type of illness that is often ignored and taken non-seriously. Additionally, more than half of the people who are diagnosed with anxiety disorder don’t seek treatment because they are unaware of their situation or believe that it is a minor temporary issue.
However, anxiety can cause permanent damage to individuals both mentally and physically that affects their overall performance in workplace, academics, success rate and their attitude with family and friends. It can lead a person into unemployment, poverty, drug abuse and violent crimes that affect the whole community.
The consequences of anxiety disorder are extremely dangerous which means that the illness is a serious problem which requires being discussed more openly and spread awareness about it so that people seek immediate help and treatment.
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