The Secret World of an Anxiety Disorder

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A blurred photo of a bearded man with his eyes closed

Everyone experiences anxiety at some point in their life. It’s a normal human reaction to any circumstance that seems scary or out of our control. Stress is 100% natural; sometimes, it can even serve a purpose, such as pushing you to finish an assignment or prepare for a daunting performance. But many people fail to understand just how intricate an anxiety disorder can be.

It’s important to acknowledge that an anxiety disorder and everyday anxiety are not the same. Worry that sprouts up out of nowhere and causes you to cancel that job interview you’ve been dreading or decide against going to the grocery store because you might have to talk to people is an anxiety disorder. However, fleeting stress is associated with the type of anxiety that everyone deals with. The line between the two is fine, but still very prominent.

Living life in the company of an anxiety disorder is no easy feat. It’s waking up early because your mind simply can’t stand to be at ease any longer. It’s going through the everyday motions, but feeling a constant fear that you could get in trouble or mess up at any time. And, most importantly, it’s sensing that your life and your mind aren’t yours anymore.

Anxiety disorders aren’t black and white, and they aren’t “just in your head.” Anxiety disorders are as unique as snowflakes, and they present themselves physically as well as mentally. Educating others and knowing the facts about anxiety disorders can save the sufferers a ton of unwanted stress, so here’s the inside scoop:

Anxiety Disorders Present Themselves Differently to Everyone

Anxiety, triggers, and coping mechanisms, oh my!

Just like Dorothy realized in the whimsical city of Oz, we are all dealing with our own issues. And each of our problems is insanely different, but knowing that everyone deserves to be understood is the true key to the universe.

Triggers

Anxiety triggers can range from a thought as small as an atom to an emotion that seems to sweep through all of Earth. According to Calm Clinic, loss of coping, listening to the news, lack of goal setting, and having too much time to think are the most common triggers for those dealing with an anxiety disorder.

Triggers can also stem from past experiences. For example, if you grew up believing that snacking at night led to health problems down the road then you would most likely feel your cheeks warming in worry at the thought of having a small bite of a brownie at 9 PM. Or if you grew up with parents that were barely home, you might have a fear of people leaving.

Triggers range from person to person. But by using the power of your body, you can ultimately beat any trigger that comes your way.

Here are a few ways to overcome your triggers:

  • Grab a yoga mat and learn some new poses to combat your anxiety.
  • You know that trail you’ve been dying to hike? Go do it!
  • Dancing the worry away is always a great option.
  • Running normalizes your heart rate and breathing pattern, which we all need during those pesky anxiety attacks.

Coping Mechanisms

Coping mechanisms are our body’s form of defense. They act as a shield to protect those with anxiety disorders from problems and issues that are constantly knocking at their doors.

Unfortunately, our minds have been tainted with stereotypes of anxiety disorders from television shows and movies. We’ve all seen characters binge on ice cream and drink a little too much to deal with their triggers. But the reality is that, once again, we are all so vastly different that it’s futile to put everyone’s coping mechanisms into a tightly wrapped box.

While it’s impossible to pinpoint every coping mechanism, Very Well Mind mentions that the most commonly used mechanisms by those suffering from an anxiety disorder are denial, repression, rationalization, intellectualization, projection, sublimation, and displacement.

On the flip side, coping mechanisms can often protect your ego, which is great. But they can also be overused. In this situation, you must seek out answers from a mental health physician.

However, there are healthy coping mechanisms out there, and they can help you get out of any tough spot.

Let’s dive into some healthy coping mechanisms:

  • Meditation can help bring the focus back to your mind and body.
  • Weighing the pros and cons can be a helpful way to dissect the problem. Plus, who doesn’t love a good list?
  • Be proactive and learn a new skill.
  • Talk to your friends and family or start a journal.

Both Mentally and Physically, Anxiety Disorders are Draining

Living with an anxiety disorder feels like going to battle every day of the week. Minutes from your day fly by while your triggers dance around them like arrows ready to attack. It’s a constant cycle that drones on and on.

Most people believe that anxiety disorders reside in your mind and thoughts only. But anxiety disorders present themselves physically, as well.

A few mental signs of an anxiety disorder are:

  • Not being able to concentrate
  • Feeling a constant sense of dread
  • Irrationality
  • Expecting the worst outcome in any situation

Here are some physical symptoms caused by an anxiety disorder:

  • Dizziness
  • Trembling
  • Insomnia
  • Sharp chest pain when breathing
  • Difficulties getting deep breaths
  • Twitches
  • Sweating
  • Pounding heart

Essentially, anxiety disorders awaken your body’s natural flight-or-fight response, which can be a bit of a nuisance when it happens daily. Normally, this response would only pop in to fend off a threat or escape a dangerous situation. But with an anxiety disorder, you’re in a constant state of worry and stress, which is a dangerous threat. So your body does what it needs to do by triggering and unleashing a multitude of physical symptoms.

It’s important to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. These symptoms can be extremely scary, but by seeking professional help, you can rid your body of the physical signs of anxiety. And along with that, the mental symptoms will dwindle away, too.

But in the meantime, try deep breathing exercises when those vexing symptoms make their presence known. Other unique and natural remedies can also ease the mental and physical symptoms of an anxiety disorder, such as a sound bath.

Knowledge and Understanding is Power

Anxiety disorders are way more complex than most people give them credit for. They are a powerhouse of symptoms that can cause so much distress and sickness in a person. But knowing, accepting, and understanding the truth behind an anxiety disorder is the one way to bring awareness to this serious illness.

Let’s leave the anxiety disorder stereotypes at the door and kick off our shoes to the fact that we are all different and unique. And no one will ever fit into the mold that society wants us to melt into.

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