Anxiety is a normal human emotion that everyone experiences at times. Many people feel anxious, or nervous, when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or making an important decision. Anxiety disorders, however, are different. They can cause such distress that it interferes with a person's ability to lead a normal life.
An anxiety disorder is a serious mental illness. For people with anxiety disorders, worry and fear are constant and overwhelming, and can be crippling.
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The exact cause of anxiety disorders is unknown; but anxiety disorders -- like other forms of mental illness -- are not the result of personal weakness, a character flaw, or poor upbringing. As scientists continue their research on mental illness, it is becoming clear that many of these disorders are caused by a combination of factors, including changes in the brain and environmental stress.
Like other brain illnesses, anxiety disorders may be caused by problems in the functioning of brain circuits that regulate fear and other emotions. Studies have shown that severe or long-lasting stress can change the way nerve cells within these circuits transmit information from one region of the brain to another. Other studies have shown that people with certain anxiety disorders have changes in certain brain structures that control memories linked with strong emotions.
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I've been ashamed to admit if for awhile, as if having a mental illness makes me less of a person.
It's very hard to explain what having an anxiety disorder is like. People just don't understand and I've gotten some bad reactions.
Panic disorder: People with this condition have feelings of terror that strike suddenly and repeatedly with no warning. Other symptoms of a panic attack include sweating, chest pain, palpitations (unusually strong or irregular heartbeats), and a feeling of choking, which may make the person feel like he or she is having a heart attack or "going crazy."
Ever tip your chair back so far you think it's going to tip over? Lied to someone and gotten caught?Forgot an important project was due and your boss is asking for it?
You know that moment of panic you feel, that stab in your chest, your heart beating faster, the shortness of breath. That's what a panic attack feels like, but instead of only lasting a moment, mine last anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour.
You'll usually find me curled up in a corner, crying, shaking and clutching my chest, hoping I'm not dying. Yeah, not much fun.
When this happens, it makes pretty much anything else impossible, I can't go to work, I can't go the the grocery store, I can't even leave the house.
I love this picture because it really captures the feel of what it's like to try and get past an obstacle so huge as a mental disorder. I feel like there is a monster in my doorway, just daring me to try and get past.
|art by Manuhell|
High Anxiety - Mell Brooks
I know it seems weird to have a song performed by Mel Brooks be on this list, but I do find it really helpful. I also change up the lyrics a little bit to make myself feel better. instead of "It's very clear to me I've got to give in. High anxiety: you win." I sing "It's clear to me, I've paid my dues. High anxiety: you loose."
I guess something about changing the power dynamics gives me a bit more control.
Chillout - Ze Frank
Okay, so listening to this song makes me cry, but it is my go-to song when my anxiety starts to act up. And that, of course, was exactly why it was written. Ze Frank talks about it in his TedTalk presentation (the whole thing is worth watching, but the part I'm talking about starts at 13:34. It takes a minute to get into, but again, it's worth watching)
It's songs like these that remind me, that this isn't who I am, this is just something that is happening to me and that's a HUGE difference.
Angels - Robbie Williams
This song reminds me that there are amazing people in my life who understand and care for me. These wonderful people who stand by me and lift me up when I can't do it on my own.
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|found on Self-Positive Sailor Scouts|
Siren's Call - Darren Hayes
"And I've seen a hint of it
Just knowing it exists I know that I must try"
And I do try, I hold onto what I can, I do what I can to get by
and I will try again tomorrow and the next day and the next day
Thanks to WebMD for explaining better than I can