ANXIETY… It is normal to feel anxious from time to time in response to life’s normal stress. However, for some, just the word “anxiety” can create a feeling of constant worry and possible panic attacks. For those, anxiety feels like a constant companion, always lurking behind the next corner.
Millions live with social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and other anxiety conditions. Unfortunately, the topic is too rarely discussed openly. Most forms of mental illness still have an attached social stigma, causing many people keep suspected conditions secret.
For others, opening up to family, friends, or a trusted counselor is a way of coping with anxiety. Some have discovered writing down feelings in a journal or daily blog can help. Those that talk about their disorder are often able to inspire others who can relate: they let it be known that there is hope and that the seemingly normal experience of an enjoyable life is possible.
Anxiety is closely related to PTSD. People with anxiety have usually experienced various forms of general anxiety (acute stress, social anxiety, panic) in response to their personal life circumstances and situations for many years. On the other hand, PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after an individual experiences or witnesses a traumatic event. People with PTSD react when exposed to a “trigger” that reminds them of a stressor or some aspect of past trauma. They experience intense anxiety symptoms in response. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they are not in danger.
PTSD symptoms, as related to anxiety, vary considerably among survivors and interfere with their capacity to maintain a previously normal life; these are all possible precursors to suicide: unwanted stressful memories of reliving past traumatic experiences (flashbacks), upsetting reminders of a traumatic event or experience by things in the immediate surrounding, difficulty falling asleep, nightmares, body tenseness due to stress, loss of interest in activities and/or desire to socialize, a profound sense of isolation, detachment, withdrawal, difficulty maintaining relationships and/or expressing emotions, over-eating, self-medicating with drugs/alcohol, sense of frustration/irritation, feeling unworthy, blaming one’s self, excessive risk taking, and sensing there is no future to look forward to. Feeling jumpy or on-edge, unsafe, easily startled, unable to let go, impulsive, angry, aggressive, violent, shameful, depressed, and helpless.
Be sure to talk to your doctor or a mental health professional if anxiety symptoms are bothersome and continue for more than a month, or if you feel you’re having trouble keeping life under control. Getting prompt treatment can help prevent many forms of anxiety from getting worse.