Over 40 Million Americans Suffer From Anxiety
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You May Not Have Anxiety, But Someone Close To You Does

Anxiety affects millions of Americans — even if you don't think you know someone who struggles, you do.

You May Not Have Anxiety, But Someone Close To You Does

Everybody feels anxious from time to time. It is a normal emotion that accompanies the stresses of school, work, and relationships. We panic about something we said in a conversation a long time ago, wondering how the recipient interpreted our words and if they think of us differently as a result. We worry about upcoming exams, papers, presentations, projects, events. We agonize over our life choices, wondering if we're on the right path.

However, for most of us, these feelings don't consume us completely.

Anxiety disorder is a serious mental health disorder that is characterized by persistent feelings of worry, anxiety, or fear that are strong enough to interfere with one's daily routine and activities.

Those suffering from anxiety are unable to set aside worries, feel anxiety extremely out of proportion to the triggering event. Symptoms include restlessness, headaches, inability to focus, racing thoughts, irritability, and fatigue. There is generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), but other types include:

  • Social anxiety — an intense fear of public criticism, embarrassment, or humiliation that occurs in social situations such as parties, making small talk, giving presentations, or being assertive or confrontational.
  • Specific phobias — magnified, intense, and sometimes irrational fear of something specific that can trigger excessive panic.
  • Panic disorder — intense, acute, overwhelming, uncontrollable feelings of anxiety accompanied by a range of physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, and excessive perspiration. Though panic attacks are also a symptom of other types of anxiety, recurring and excessive panic attacks in a certain period of time is an indication of a panic disorder.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) — persistent, unwanted, intrusive, and irrational thoughts that cause anxiety and can only be curbed through repeated behaviors or rituals (i.e. obsessive fear of germs causes compulsive hand-washing).
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — upsetting thoughts, flashbacks, dreams, or fears relating to a past traumatic event such as war, disaster, assault, etc.

Watching those close to me suffer from anxiety has illustrated to me just how real this disorder is, and how it is much more destructive is it than simple feelings of worry. It can cause other physical ailments, and prevent one from accomplishing simple tasks that require almost no thought for the rest of us.

Those suffering from anxiety need not only support from their loved ones but also a great deal of patience and sympathy.

Having others become frustrated about their anxiety or not take it seriously only worsens the condition and intensifies the pain. Do what you can to accommodate their feelings while treating them as normally as possible. With the right support network, people with anxiety can still live relatively ordinary lives.

Anxiety sufferers don't have to feel like they're alone. Evident from the plethora of relatable posts and stories shared on social media, it is a relatively common illness among us (over 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety). Nevertheless, it is important not to romanticize the illness or undermine those who truly suffer from it by claiming we "have anxiety" about something, when truly it is just a temporary worry.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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