By Zara Maqbool
In the last few months, I have come across many people who complain of suffering from anxiety. A few of my clients have a similar issue complaining about anxiety that ranges from general anxiety without any distinct manifestation, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorders, phobias, social anxiety or any that comes post a trauma.
Most people cannot point out the reason for their anxiety especially if they have not suffered any trauma or do not have OCDs or phobias but this general anxiety mostly comes in the form of panic attacks or unexplained reasons that people cant find a cause to. The sad part is that whoever is suffering from anxiety is judged as if he or she induces it out of their choice. Or the common comment is “its all in your head.”
Another dilemma is how many illnesses in women are diagnosed as caused by anxiety and at times this causes serious illness to be ignored. I had suffered from SVT a heart condition that has very rapid heartbeat as one of the main symptoms, mistaken as anxiety and ignored till it became critical.
Most of us suffer from anxiety at some point of our lives but when anxiety becomes persistent and can immobilize us now and then, it’s a serious issue. We all suffer from the occasional anxiety attacks before a job interview, some exam or meeting someone new but if it becomes our habitual way of being, seeking help is important.
So when is anxiety a disorder and needs to be resolved by professional help? If we start having sleep problems, irrational fears, excessively worrying about everything or chronic body tensions, dysfunctional eating or panic attacks, then seeking help is critical.
So what does a panic attack look like? Palpitations, shivering, increased heart rate; excessive sweating that lasts for a few minutes and then subsides. So what do you do? In case seeking professional help is not an option there are some things that can be done to help us. For starters I tell all my clients that accepting your anxiety is most important if you want to change this. The problem is in our will to change we judge our actions and that makes bringing a change harder. Give yourself some acceptance and try to externalize that voice that is ready to shame you.
Some other things can be maintaining a healthy life style, good eating, exercising and managing the external stressors of life. In this day and age, YouTube is a reservoir for amazing information and learning some mindfulness techniques can bring a world of change. Learn some grounding exercises with the onset of a panic attack. Also try replacing your negative thoughts with positive ones, as it’s the thoughts that bring on emotions that lead to anxiety.
An important thing to remember is that even if with all these and more self-help techniques, you are still suffering form persistent anxiety give priority to yourself and seek some professional help. Coming from a profession where medicines are not preferred unless someone is suffering from a psychopathology, taking anti-anxiety drugs or anti-depressants is frowned upon as in my experience they only add to the problem. They numb the symptoms for a while and then once the body has used up the drug, its withdrawal adds to the already existing anxiety making it worse. Because remember that anxiety is just a symptom of a problem that might not be in your awareness. Sometimes we repress important links of our selves deep somewhere and these anxiety attacks are a reminder that these missing links need to be resolved. So don’t ignore these symptoms. don’t feel shame or betrayal by your body that is trying to tell you something. Seek help so you can lead a more free functioning life.