Anxiety is something everyone experiences at one point or another. For many people, this usually just means a bit of stress every now and then, but some struggle with severe anxiety on a daily basis.
Though anxiety disorders are very common and can often be managed with therapy and/or medication, some people find that their anxiety is so severe it’s affecting their everyday lives. Anxiety can be crippling for many people and it isn’t always easy to seek help.
The Gateway Disorder
Often issues with anxiety can lead to other struggles like developing other mental disorders, issues in one’s work or relationships, or even physical problems. Many things can be linked to anxiety and these issues can often feed into each other and make both even worse.
There’s a strong link between anxiety and addiction that isn’t talked about often. While addiction can certainly lead to feelings of anxiety, the opposite can be true as well. Sometimes those who struggle with anxiety look for ways to cope with the ever-present stress they can’t seem to avoid and in desperation may turn to substances like drugs and alcohol. These substances can offer temporary relief for anxiety, but that relief inevitably goes away so another drink or hit is required, leading this unhealthy coping mechanism to become a dangerous addiction.
Anxiety can also lead to depression, which can be an equally damaging disorder. The constant fear and anxiety may lead a person to shut down in a way and become depressed, which in turn can sometimes make their anxiety worse as well. It can become a vicious cycle many don’t know how to escape from. Depression is a serious issue and can be linked to addiction as well.
There are also physical side effects and conditions that can be caused by chronic anxiety. Headaches or migraines, nausea, insomnia, and breathing issues can all arise from severe anxiety, whether occurring during panic attacks or presenting more frequently. Some people even suffer from chronic pain due to holding so much tension in their bodies constantly. These physical issues can sometimes become serious if not looked into and managed.
Simple Seems Impossible
For many people, anxiety makes normally simple tasks incredibly difficult. Some even find themselves disinterested in things they normally enjoy and feel some days like they can’t do anything at all.
Anxiety can make it hard to just get out of bed sometimes. Some may see people with anxiety as lazy if they’re not being very productive but in reality, the lack of energy and motivation from executive dysfunction isn’t something most people can control. Executive functions refer to certain functions of the brain like memory, impulse control, and the ability to focus without getting distracted. Those with impaired executive functions struggle with these things, which can make even small tasks very difficult. It can also be hard to find the energy or motivation for most things when your mind is always dealing with anxious thoughts. It can lead to exhaustion and a general disinterest in doing tasks even if you know you need to get them done.
Many people with severe anxiety also struggle with isolation and loneliness. Those with social anxiety may find interacting with other people scary and others may just push people away for fear of being a burden or fear of being rejected or hurt. Whatever the reason, people who suffer from anxiety often isolate themselves and are then left to deal with these issues on their own. What’s worse is isolation can greatly worsen anxiety as having no support system means no one is there to help take you out of your own thoughts and reassure you.
Turning On Yourself
Sometimes people with anxiety develop low self-confidence, a very negative self-image, and sometimes even self-hatred. These damaging views of one’s self can lead to dangerous impulsive decisions or self-neglect if not addressed and challenged.
We all need to take care of ourselves physically and mentally. Things like brushing our teeth, bathing, and eating enough food are essential for our overall health and well-being. With anxiety, however, self-care can sometimes be difficult and one might struggle with even basic things like eating. Some people might not have the energy or motivation to do these tasks while others may just have such little value for themselves they simply don’t find it worthwhile to take care of themselves at all. This can lead to further mental and physical health issues as well as problems with personal relationships or even housing if one’s self-neglect has progressed to an extreme situation like compulsive hoarding.
Some people also struggle with self-harm, which is a serious issue for many struggling with anxiety and other mental disorders. A person might feel compelled to cut, scratch, hit, or even burn themselves as an extreme and unhealthy coping mechanism. There are several reasons people may self-harm and while it may seem irrational to outsiders, it’s often done out of a feeling of helplessness and pain.
If you suspect someone you love is struggling with chronic anxiety or you’re struggling with it yourself, please consider seeking help. Reach out to a counselor or if you feel the situation is dire, call one of the many crisis hotlines available to help anyone struggling. Anxiety can be devastating but it doesn’t have to be deadly. Things can always get better and there are always people who want to help.