22 Thought Provoking Facts About Anxiety

“Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems.”

Epictetus

You want to make friends because you’ve become such a loner, but you’re afraid that any attempt at making friends will end up in rejection. But you’re just not up for that kick in the gut.

You find that you’re getting jealous of other people, even random strangers on the street, because you’re sure that they’re happy and successful. That they travel anywhere they want to go, meet new people easily, have a loving relationship with a significant other.

You probably worry that you’ll never have a life because of your anxieties.

If these experiences ring loud bells for you, please read on. There’s some really important stuff you must know that can help you get past this struggle.

ONE OF THE MOST COMMON MENTAL HEALTH DISORDERS

First, understand that anxiety disorders in general, and social anxiety specifically, are one of the most common mental health disorders among people here in The United States, followed by depression and bi-polar disorder.

Before we go any further, please don’t let the word “disorder” freak you out.

The prefix “dis-“ means ‘apart from’ or ‘away from’, and “order” means the arrangement of stuff according to a certain pattern. So, a disorder is nothing more than a perfectly healthy situation which has been knocked out of whack. Sometimes a lot. Many times, just a little.

Anxiety disorders, panic disorders, excessive fear and worry all exist on a continuum from not bad to really bad and everything in between.  It doesn’t matter how bad. We now have the technologies to help overcome them.

Your objective is to get familiar with what’s going on for you so you can go to work on overcoming them.

Think of it this way. Let’s say you open your spice cabinet. You’re searching for that jar of sumac you bought last month, but you can’t find it because your spice cabinet has become a nasty, jumbled mess.

Would that mean you’d give up cooking forever? No. Of course not.

But it is pretty clear you’re suffering from a spice cabinet disorder. The sumac is there (just like your natural calm and poise), maybe the jar just got tipped over, and now it’s hidden away behind the dried mustard, fennel seed, the bag of garam masala, and ground coriander.

Could be it’s stuck to the bottom of an upper shelf because you spilled agave nectar on it a few months ago. It’s there. You just can’t get your hands on it…yet.

There’s some work to do, but it’s doable, right?

First, you pull all the stuff out of the spice cabinet and decide if you even need some of those things anymore (like mace…do you really have to hold on to that?)

I’m not going to go into how to clean and arrange your spice cabinet, but it’s the same exercise. And once completed, it’s just a matter of maintaining the new order.

Now look, I can already hear the pushback…

“Mike, you don’t get it. Nothing’s working for me. Nothing’s going to work for me.”

“The housekeeping metaphor demeans my pain, dude.”

“You don’t understand, man. This is different!”

Please believe me, I do get it. I’ve totally been there, and at various times over the past 50 years, it’s felt like nothing would help me either. I realize it feels different but stick with me, because:

FACT #1 – 18% of the adult population in the United States – that’s 40 million other people – suffer from anxiety disorders. And that’s not even counting teenagers. So, look. You’re not alone. Not even a little bit.

 

5 TYPES OF ANXIETY DISORDERS

There are 5 types of anxiety disorders:

FACT #2 – Generalized Anxiety Disorder, an anxiety disorder characterized by chronic anxiety, exaggerated worry and tension, even when there is little or nothing to provoke it.

FACT #3 –  Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, OCD, is an anxiety disorder and is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions).

FACT #4 – Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder and is characterized by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms that may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress (see one of my personal panic attack stories a little later).

FACT #5 – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened.

FACT #6 – Social Anxiety Disorder, or Social Phobia, is an anxiety disorder characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations. [i]

Of all who struggle with anxiety issues, 15 million struggle with social anxiety, and about 7 million struggle with generalized anxiety disorder.

Generalized anxiety is a more non-specific generalized dread or dis-ease with the world.

Social anxiety could be fear or worry about things like eating in front of other people, speaking to a group of people, or making new friends. Regardless, it’s an excessive concern that others are judging them harshly or unfairly. Frankly, some people simply feel overwhelmed when they’re around other people.

Some of the symptoms of generalized and social anxiety include:

FACT #7Fears about embarrassing themselves

FACT #8 – Fear of being humiliated

FACT #9 – Excessive worrying

FACT #10 – Feeling physically agitated

FACT #11 – Restlessness

FACT #12 – Fatigue

FACT #13 – Tense muscles

FACT #14 – Difficulty sleeping

The big thing to realize is that if your anxieties:

  1. Interfere with your daily routine
  2. Interfere with your relationships
  3. Sometimes morph into panic attacks…[ii]

It’s a problem you want to do something about. And you don’t want to wait. It can build to something worse.

Now look, anxiety is a very natural experience for humans. It was what alerted us to actual physical danger, and kept us alive to pass our genes down to the next generation The problem comes when it’s causing the interferences we mentioned above in the absence of actual physical danger.

“Am I suffering from social anxiety disorder, or am I just exceedingly shy?"

It’s a great question and it’s possible, but shyness and social anxiety have some very distinct differences such as:

FACT #15 – Shyness involves tolerable discomfort, whereas social anxiety feels totally intolerable and could spark a panic attack.

FACT #16 – Shyness may inhibit a person in social situations but only until they know the people better. Social anxiety virtually prohibits social interaction. The fear and worry are that intense.

 

Professionals in the field of psychology consider these issues Highly Treatable, but…

FACT #17 – As few as 5% of people actually seek help within the first 12 months of the onset of their anxiety symptoms.

FACT #18 – Some people actually live with the problem for decades before seeking help. You don’t have to do that. And that’s why I’m writing this.

I’m 61 years old, and I’ve waved “buh-bye” to way too many opportunities in my life because I was afraid of people judging me and finding me wanting.

“The other kids will all laugh at me,” was my most common refrain as a kid, and I carried that with me throughout most of my adult life. Sometimes it still gets the better of me.

There were skills and pursuits that I was exceptional at when I was younger. Skills and pursuits that people who knew better were encouraging me to take up professionally. I can’t tell you how often I walked away from chances because I didn’t believe what professionals were telling me. I was too freaked out about being mocked or humiliated to even step into the arena.

Friends, in this day-and-age, there’s just no reason that you should have to go on suffering like I did. None. I’ve had to do a lot of digging and cross referencing and working things out on my own prior to the information explosion of the last twenty years. I hope I can help alleviate all that struggle for you.

I was being crushed by my fears and anxieties for decades but that was at a time when this stuff just wasn’t talked about. Now, I want to help you get the resources you need to get you back onto an upward trajectory for your life. But I digress…

NEGATIVE HEALTH EFFECTS

The final things you need to know about anxiety disorders are that, left untreated they can:

FACT #19 – Push up your risk of developing major depression (which it totally did to me).

FACT #20 – Increase your risk for cardiac problems (happened to me), and

FACT #21 – Boost your risk of becoming alcoholic.

All of these issues also carry with them serious physical health problems which tend to lead toward shortened life span, and even worse quality of life issues. Which is why the time to do something about anxiety and/or related depression is now.

POWERLESSNESS IN THE FACE OF ANXIETY?

FACT #22 – Finally, folks who struggle with anxiety disorders feel completely powerless in the face of the disorder, and as we said before, that’s just not true.

Anxiety issues are highly treatable, either on your own or with the help of a qualified therapist. So please don’t wait to start working on this. It may seem overwhelming. It may seem REALLY SCARY. But you can overcome your anxieties with small, controlled steps over time that will result in a completely new take on your life. It’s already been proven, and you can do it too.

 


[i] https://www.hhs.gov/answers/mental-health-and-substance-abuse/what-are-the-five-major-types-of-anxiety-disorders/index.html

[ii] https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety/types-of-anxiety/social-phobia

Feeling Powerless In The Face Of Your Anxiety?

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Mike Walsh

Mike Walsh

Mike is a researcher, writer, certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, and Prosci certified Change Management Specialist. He is on an perpetual quest to self-actualize and would love it if you'd join him on the journey.

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