America lives with anxiety. Over 40 million adults are affected by anxiety disorders and even more face anxiety symptoms without ever getting the right diagnosis. People of all sexes and ages struggle to enjoy life, consistently enduring feelings of never-ceasing worry, fear and uneasiness. Both their mental and physical health are at risk, and silence over the matter will not help any of them. It’s time to accept that anxiety is a real problem in today’s America and to start looking for reliable, long-term solutions. Millions of people deserve a better life and treating anxiety can have a major contribution to achieving that higher standard of living.
A large range of symptoms
We are all different and symptoms can vary from one person to another. However, health practitioners agree that most of the people struggling with anxiety will experience a range of similar physical and emotional symptoms. Depending on one’s individual traits, as well as their level of anxiety and personal context, feelings of worry, angst, danger or even panic are frequent symptoms. Other times, people can feel lethargic, unable to focus on the usual tasks and seem to suffer from a general mental tension. Ruminating or obsessing over a particular idea (such as the cause of one’s anxiety), as well as repeatedly performing the same actions are usually anxiety-related symptoms.
Physically, those with anxiety disorders or anxiety tendencies present a significantly higher heart rate, heavy sweating, trembling, voice shaking, hyperventilation and a series of digestive problems. They will also develop unusual sleep patterns, such as waking up often, not entering deep sleep phases, having difficulties falling asleep, nightmares and sleepwalking. Feeling tired, tense, irritable, unproductive, unsocial and generally unhappy are some other relatively easy-to-spot signs of anxiety. Depression is often associated with anxiety disorders and many people suffer from both, often without being aware of any of any.
Anxious with/without a cause?
Sometimes anxiety can have an obvious source, other times there is no easy-to-identify cause. Many people experience anxiety in relation to triggers from their past, while others worry because of present or future life situations. Millions of Americans fight anxiety daily and their uneasiness is not always caused by personal life history or genetic heritage. Social context has a huge contribution and it is no secret that we live in a highly anxiogenic culture:
The media and current politics have a major impact on the way people feel about today and/or tomorrow. National security, terrorism, economic instability and poor access to medical services make riveting news… as well as highly panicogenic material. In this context, it is no wonder that 76% of Americans say they fear political violence.
Meaningful, nurturing relationships are extremely helpful in feeling safe, strong and happy. In a society where we cultivate the appearance of happiness, both on social media and in face to face interactions, many will smile while screaming on the inside. There is no culture of safety nets anymore – friendships are becoming superficial (and the excessive social media use contributes to that), marriages often end in divorce and alienation is very common. The result? Feeling grounded and connected becomes a difficult task to deal with.
Poverty represent a paradoxical reality today in America who is still one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Many people work underpaid jobs and are always at risk of losing them. Feeling easily replaceable, as well as having no choice but to accept underpayment and minimum work compensation, will make many Americans fear for their family’s financial security. More than that, with poverty comes lower chances for good education, low or no personal budget for health-related matters, inability to pay mortgages, rent or even buy food. Losing hope, as well as human dignity is natural in this context, and the majority of those facing such challenges will, eventually, develop anxiety disorders and other mental health problems.
Finally, there is a rise in opioid use in America and self-medicating for anxiety is not unusual. With a health system accessible only to a few and with a medical culture that encourages taking pills for everything, many people are condemned to living with anxiety and addiction, never getting a real chance to cure themselves.
There is some good news though: anxiety disorders are one of the most treatable mental health disorders, as long as the problem is correctly diagnosed, understood and approached. One of the safest approaches with long-term results is talk-therapy.
The talk-therapy cure
While anxiety disorders are highly curable, not even half of those who battle their symptoms get the right treatment or any sort of treatment.
Due to income limitation, reduced access to information and lack of medical access, many people are condemned to a life of struggle and emotional pain. This seems unfair, especially since it can take as little as 8-16 talk-therapy sessions to improve or even completely treat some anxiety issues.
When to see a therapist
Usually, people decide to see a therapist when their life balance is affected and they don’t feel as functional as usual. Anxiety can be highly disruptive for relationships, work, school and it can also negatively impact one’s general health. Talking to a specialist and understanding the mechanisms behind anxiety symptoms, as well as its underlying causes will almost immediately help to reduce the impact such a disorder has on one’s day to day life.
For those interested in exploring their situation in depth, personalised treatment plans can be set up. By following them, clients can better manage their symptoms and even start using anxiety as a self-development tool, as this is often the beginning of a longer journey towards knowing themselves better. Sometimes medication will be combined with therapy while other times learning different relaxation techniques will be enough. In most therapies, people will also discover how lifestyle impacts their mental health and what to change to feel better: eating, drinking, sleeping, gym and social habits can massively interfere with one’s emotional and mental state. Finally, some of the clients decide to go further in their self-development journey and embark on different personal growth courses, such as meditation, mindfulness, group therapy or art therapy.
Starting to see a counselor or psychotherapist is a brave first step towards a better mental health and, eventually, to a more enjoyable life. Just remember that anxiety disorders can be treated and there is plenty of help for you. Feel free to get in touch if you or someone you love is affected by anxiety disorders. We are here to support you in facing whatever today or tomorrow will bring.