Healthy Mind

What Is Anxiety Disorder?

Did you know 19.5% of 19-24 year olds experience a mental health disorder? This is according to a report published by the RCSI in 2013.

It is so hard to believe that even in this day and age there is still so much stigma around mental health. With anxiety being one of the most common mental health disorders, it’s time to look at the facts of it.

According to Oxford Dictionaries, anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. Or a nervous disorder marked by excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behaviour or panic attacks.

Everyone will suffer with anxiety at some point in their lives but 11% of young people between the ages of 19-24 experience an anxiety disorder at any given time. So for the purpose of anxiety disorders we will be working from the second definition.

Anxiety can often leave people feeling hopeless and fretting over something that is not exactly rational but to them it is the most rational thing in the world.

There are many types of anxiety disorders, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Phobias, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder to name just a few.

Each anxiety disorder has its own rage of symptoms, but many of the symptoms they have in common include;

  • Unshakable feelings of dread/irrational fears
  • Digestive discomfort/problems
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing/hyperventilating
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Chills and hot flashes

Anxiety disorders can completely take over someone’s life and lead them to take panic attacks. A panic attack is, a sudden overwhelming feeling of acute and disabling anxiety and is often an experience which leaves a person feeling like they are going to die.

The best way to describe a panic attack, is this overwhelming feeling of panic, which may make you feel like you are burning up, you begin to find it hard to breathe and feel like you can’t catch your breath, this leads you to feel dizzy, which in turn makes you feel like you are going to pass out. Then comes the chest pains and the heart palpitations and you convince yourself you are going to die.

Yet people don’t seem to understand how this feels and affects a person when they have not experienced it themselves. A lot of people just do not understand, they don’t realise the damage they are doing when they say things like, ‘It is mind over matter’ or ‘You just need to relax’. Why would someone come to you about a problem with their mental health if you are going to demean them?

Another relatively shocking statistic is that 62% of people would not want others to know if they were suffering with their mental health. With so much judgement still surrounding the concept of mental health, can you honestly say you wouldn’t mind if everyone knew you were suffering with yours? This stigma needs to be addressed and by educating people on mental health issues you are helping to fight this battle.

If you or someone you know suffers from an anxiety disorder there is help and treatment available. Some of the treatments available include;

  • Medication: Tablets used to reduce the symptoms of anxiety disorders include anti-depressants and anxiety-reducing tablets.
  • Counselling: This is a process in which trained mental health professionals help people by talking through strategies for understanding and dealing with your anxiety disorder.

Changing things like your diet and lifestyle can help, by doing things like eliminating or reducing your intake of coffee and exercising. Exercise helps as it gives you an outlet for stress and worry and by doing things like meditation and yoga you are learning to relax.

One thing I wish to ask of all of you is to never judge someone because of something like their mental health. You don’t know what it is like to walk in their shoes. If a friend or family member is suffering from an anxiety disorder or any kind of mental health issue be there for them.

Don’t make them feel like there is nothing wrong with them or that they are attention seeking and say something stupid like: “It is mind over matter.” You are not helping and they will not thank you for it.

If you are effected by anxiety, here are just some of the organisations which you can go to for support:

Samaritans

Reach Out

Pieta House

Niteline

Alternatively, check out some of the many free support services offered by your college services and welfare officer on your college website.