Before I go into personal dealings with anxiety, I thought I’d delve into what an anxiety disorder actually is, what it’s like, and what other disorders or health issues can accompany it. And, you guessed it: depression and BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) are common partners to anxiety.
So what is an anxiety disorder?
We’ll start first with GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder. According to the Mayo Clinic:
“Generalized anxiety disorder has symptoms that are similar to panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other types of anxiety, but they’re all different conditions…
… In many cases, it occurs along with other anxiety or mood disorders.”
WebMD sums it up pretty well:
“Generalized anxiety disorder (or GAD) is characterized by excessive, exaggerated anxiety and worry about everyday life events with no obvious reasons for worry. People with symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder tend to always expect disaster and can’t stop worrying about health, money, family, work, or school. In people with GAD, the worry is often unrealistic or out of proportion for the situation. Daily life becomes a constant state of worry, fear, and dread. Eventually, the anxiety so dominates the person’s thinking that it interferes with daily functioning, including work, school, social activities, and relationships.”
Basically, it’s like that feeling you get on that Six Flags ride where they take you up five stories and suddenly drop you, causing your stomach to shoot up inside your skull. Only you have that feeling ALL THE TIME. It doesn’t go away. There may be moments where you forget your worries when you get distracted by a conversation or a funny picture on Pinterest, but they always come back. Sometimes it’s not even a worry. It’s just persistent anxiety about nothing in particular. And it’s annoying as crap. It’s also detrimental to your health.
Problems linked to anxiety and stress include:
- Dramatic weight loss/weight gain
- Heart disease
- Aches/Muscle Pains/Stomach Ulcers
Aside from GAD, other anxiety disorders include Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), and social phobia (also known as Social Anxiety Disorder). The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) says that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults, which is about 18% of the U.S. population. Anxiety disorders are usually accompanied by depression, but other illnesses link to anxiety include:
- Bipolar Disorder
- Eating disorders
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Sleep disorders
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBM)
These can make dealing with anxiety much more difficult. From my experience, the correlation between anxiety and depression is a vicious cycle. You’re anxious because you’re depressed, and you’re depressed because you’re anxious. You can’t stop worrying, and this can lead to severe depression and a feeling of hopelessness, like you’re never going to climb out of the hole you’ve fallen into. But whatever kind of anxiety (or other) disorder you’re dealing with, it’s important to GET HELP. Trying to push it all back down or just ignoring it will only make the problem worse. As I am currently seeing a counselor about my problems, I find great comfort in being able to speak with someone about my problems. Even better, the counseling center I go to is Christian-based, so my therapist attends to my spiritual needs as well as my mental health needs. This specialized counseling might not be for everyone, but it’s such a wonderful thing to have your therapist pray with you and share the Word of God with you.
If you or someone you know is struggling with any of these mental health issues, here are some resources:
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)
- National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
- To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA)
- Focus on the Family (Christian-based)
If anyone else has resources they would like to share, please leave a comment and I will add it to the resources list.
I also encourage you to bring your troubles to the Lord. Prayer is a powerful thing, and God is always there to listen to us and to help us. I’m still working on trust Him with all the difficulties I am experiencing right now. But I’ve found that when I turn everything over to Him, my life starts to change for the better. The Bible is our most important resource for all of life’s troubles. We need only to use it.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”