Amie Kuykendall, LCSW
Anxiety: Invisible Suffering
Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health issues out there, affecting almost 20% of the population of adults in the United States. That’s a lot of folks out there, feeling the effects of anxiety, just struggling to keep it together through one more minute, one more hour, one more day. It is little comfort that when anxiety hits us, we could probably look around the room and realize that, just by the statistics, there’s someone else there that knows the pressure, the deep feelings of discomfort that anxiety generates.
It is a blessing and a curse that anxiety disorders are often silent, frequently invisible. We can be grateful that no one can see our anxiety when we are sitting amongst others and just trying to keep up our veneer of normalcy (or calmness or coolness - whatever fits you). I mean, most the time we would really rather not have the whole world see us falling apart, right? But that lack of visibility can also make it hard for others to understand the ways in which anxiety disorders affect our lives on the daily. It’s so hard to communicate to others the ways anxiety weaves its way into the fabric of our lives. It’s impossible to describe the feeling of anxiety and the way that it can make you feel like your head is going to explode and collapse in all at once.
Maybe one of the reasons people that have never had an anxiety disorder find it hard to understand is because it can look so different just depending on the person. Some of the ways anxiety rears its ugly head are:
· Feelings of fear
· Feelings of panic
· Shortness of breath or hyperventilation
· Feeling like your heart is racing or pounding extra hard
· Feeling cold or very hot
· Numbness and tingling sensations
· Pressure on your chest or in your throat
· Pressure in your head
· Feeling paralyzed
· Upset stomach
· Feeling weak or tired
…And this list isn’t even complete! Some people have many of these symptoms, some may just have one or two. No matter how your symptoms manifest or what intensity they are, know that they are real even if they are not always apparent to those around us. The discomfort is real and the out of control feeling is real, and it’s lousy whether the anxiety lasts a few minutes or all day long.
Anxiety can be a genetic disposition in some, triggered by life events in others, due to our brain chemistry or anxiety may seem to have no real cause at all. The only good news about anxiety is that it is highly treatable, and there are a number of effective treatments for anxiety disorders out there. If you or someone you care about is battling anxiety disorders, please, reach out and get some help. You don’t have to suffer silently anymore.