According to Transformations Treatment Center, nearly 29% of Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder. Experiencing clinical anxiety can come in the form of whole-body clenching, rapid heartbeat, and a persistent sense of worry. The most common anxiety disorders are agoraphobia, general anxiety disorder, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, and separation anxiety disorder.
The key is to recognize if your anxiety rises to the level of a clinical condition and what to do about it. No one can live a life untouched by fear or worry. But, with the right skills and the right help, you don’t need to live one that is destroyed by it, either. Here are four interesting facts you probably didn’t know about anxiety.
Anxiety Alters the Senses
Research shows that anxiety adversely affects all five senses. The stress response leads to changes in the body’s normal functions and causes nerve sensations, muscle tension, and odd smells or tastes. Many people report having a blood-like taste in their mouth or a bitter or repugnant smell with no rational explanation. These symptoms can come and go or persist indefinitely. It can also stop you from functioning in the way you’ve always been able to, like making you hungry at odd times, or not hungry at all for days. It can also make you feel sleepy at the wrong times, or wide awake when you should be sleeping. Calm Clinic explains, “anxiety can make your skin extra sensitive so that even mild discomfort feels unbearable, and even things that are usually comforting like holding hands or a heavy blanket can be overbearing.” When experiencing a anxiety attack, you may also see spots, stars, or otherwise struggle with vision problems. Your sense of sound may also be affected, causing you to perceive normal sounds as overwhelming. One of the best things you can do in this situation is remove yourself to an environment with low stimulus until you feel better. Trying to “tough it out” can actually be more harmful than helpful.
It’s Usually Easily Treatable
According to New Paths, “unlike some other problems, anxiety is highly treatable, yet only about 1/3 or those receive treatment. In other words, many people suffer unnecessarily.” To diagnose generalized anxiety disorders, a physician may perform a physical exam to see if your anxiety symptoms are linked to a medical condition or medications. Two main treatments are medication and psychotherapy. Most people benefit from a combination of both. Psychotropic drugs like Prozac or Zoloft can lower the voltage of pain and provide more immediate relief. Medicine might also make it easier to embrace cognitive behavioral therapy and develop the habits you need to manage your life in the long run. Practicing daily self-soothing techniques such as controlled breathing, meditation, and yoga can help you take back your anxiety.
It Can Cause Attacks
Anxiety can prevent people from sleeping and create severe emotions that lead to emotional attacks. In order for a attack to be officially diagnosed, doctors looks for the following signs: heart palpitations, feeling detached, sweating, trembling, fear of losing your mind or dying, a feeling of choking, chest pain, dizziness, nausea, numbness, and shortness of breath. If you are reporting at least 4 of these symptoms at once, you are likely experiencing an anxiety or panic attack. These won’t go away on their own, so it is important to seek treatment for these attacks.
You Avoid Things Because of Your Fears
Anxiety tends to strip away the ability to do things in your life. Many people avoid seeing a doctor because they’re scared of what they could learn. Those with an airplane phobia might limit their traveling. Specific anxiety disorders can become so severe that it interferes with your day-to-day life. Job performance and school work might suffer due to physical and emotional symptoms that come with anxiety. This will end up impacting your quality of life, and it can make things very difficult and can actually lead to depression as you withdraw more and more. Running away from your anxiety can actually make it worse, even if it seems to help at first. Even if you are scared, it is important to reach out for help. If you aren’t comfortable going to a doctor, try a therapist first. Take a trusted friend or family member with you to appointments. They can help you feel safe and help you remember things that your therapist or doctor says, especially if you struggle to focus because of your anxiety.
Anxiety may be part of your life, but it doesn’t have to control you or your life. You don’t have to give up what you love or isolate yourself in order to feel better. There are treatments available, and you are far from the only person going through this. Reach out for help.