Anxiety is just one of the many mental illnesses in the world today, and it has a variety of forms. With multiple forms of anxiety, it can be easy for someone who doesn’t have a firm grasp on the illness to confuse the symptoms of anxiety and stress, and lead them to believe that they may have one when they really have the other. One similarity between forms is that they take control of a person’s mind and trap them. Anxiety is scary as it can be constant and mess with your thought process. It can come out with no warning and with no apparent cause, while stress is caused by specific occurrences or events that are happening at that specific moment in your life.
Since anxiety is an illness, its severity can range anywhere from high functioning to low functioning which varies by the individual. Everyone with anxiety is affected in a separate ways and severity. For instance, my friend and I both have anxiety. For me, it’s very mild and acts up when significant things catch me off guard. I always need a plan for things, or at least, an idea of what will happen. I can’t begin to calm down or steady myself until the situation is resolved. For my friend, his anxiety is much more severe. Years ago, his anxiety would make him think that something would happen while he was at work, or that he had forgotten to turn something off. This would cause him to always be late for work because he had to go back and forth around the house multiple times to check the stove, windows and sinks. This was his obsessive-compulsive disorder mixing with his anxiety. Now, the OCD mixes with his anxiety to create a string of negative thoughts spinning around his head. It causes him to overthink and eventually he ends up with the worst possible scenario of a situation that never happened or had even shown signs of happening yet. Anxiety for him shows up intertwined with his OCD, and it latched onto something else when a big cause of his anxiety wasn’t there anymore.
A common misconception is mistaking stress for anxiety. Some people may believe that they have anxiety, when it may just be stress. Stress can be resolved by taking a few deep breaths, or walking away from the situation. Anxiety lingers minutes to hours to days after you left, and makes it hard to breathe. It’s important to know exactly what the differences are so you know what’s going on with either yourself, a friend, or a loved one. Knowing the differences between stress and anxiety can also allow you to figure out what may or may not help when someone’s anxiety is acting up. Anxiety isn’t something that can easily be handled on your own, so when someone is willing to help you, it can ease the pressure of going through it alone.
As anxiety and its effects vary, so does the proper and most effective treatment. Treatments can range from natural remedies and therapy all the way to taking medications. For my friend, the best treatment for him, as of right now, is therapy. It’s best for him to sit down with someone and talk through what goes on when his anxiety and OCD act up, so it can be broken down and find how to work on those individual things at a time- tackling everything at once may make the anxiety worse. The options for medications vary as well. There are many medications that can be prescribed. Every aspect of anxiety, from its forms to its effects to its treatments, are all different and they all vary based on the individual.
There are also alternatives to counseling that are available any time and don’t require you to talk face to face with someone. This may make you uncomfortable if what you need to talk about is more personal. “Crisis Text Line” is a 24/7 free help line across the US, and one single text message can connect you with a trained counselor within minutes. You can talk to someone immediately–no matter where or when. They will listen to what you need to say, and help you to relax and calm down. They are there to assist with anxiety, depression, feelings of hopelessness, and more. For more information on what they do and how to contact them, visit their website.
Written by Samantha Fantozzi