What is an Anxiety disorder?

by Dimakatso Komape

Everyone experiences fear and anxiety from time to time, mostly in response to specific situations. However, someone with uncontrollable and irrational worry that persists may have a generalised anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can develop in childhood or adulthood. Either way, coping with anxiety on a regular basis can be challenging.

My anxiety started when I was in high school, having to stand in front of a class and say a speech was the most terrifying thing for me. I would shake so badly you would even hear it in my voice. My anxiety from then on continued to manifest its self in different ways. I had an irrational fear of public bathrooms because the floor tiles, ceiling, walls are usually in one colour and for some odd reason this freaked me out. But this was only the beginning. My anxiety started getting worse when I started getting panic attacks and sleeping less because my mind wouldn’t let me. Notice when I say my brain wouldn’t let me, this was because my brain would think of all the things I should be doing instead of sleeping. This kept me up most nights even if I was tired, I couldn’t sleep. I soon realised that I needed to get help with this and I did.

In South Africa, there is still a lot of misconception about mental illnesses, especially in the black culture. A lot of us are not informed about mental illness and in turn, we do not seek for help when we feel like we are ‘losing it’. Anxiety disorders are the most common form of emotional disorder and can affect anyone at any age. In most cases, women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

What are the symptoms of anxiety?
Anxiety feels different depending on the person experiencing it. You might feel out of control like there is a disconnect between your mind and body.
Other ways people experience anxiety include nightmares, panic attacks and painful thoughts or memories that you cannot control. You may have a general feeling of fear and worry, or you may fear a specific place or event.

• Increased heart rate
• Rapid breathing
• Restlessness
• Trouble concentrating
• Difficulty falling asleep

Your anxiety symptoms might be totally different from someone else’s.
What natural remedies are used for anxiety?
Lifestyle changes can be an effective way to relive some of the stress and anxiety you may cope with every day. Most of the natural ‘remedies’ consist of caring for your body, participating in healthy activities, and eliminating unhealthy ones.

These include:
• Getting enough sleep
• Meditating (being in a peaceful environment)
• Staying active and exercising
• Eating a healthy diet
• Avoiding alcohol and caffeine

Anxiety disorders can be treated with medication, psychotherapy, or a combination n of the two. Some people, who have a mild anxiety disorder, or a fear of something they can easily avoid, decide to live with the condition and do not seek treatment. They would treat their anxiety with the natural remedies mentioned above. It’s important to understand that anxiety disorders can be treated, even in serve cases. Although anxiety usually doesn’t go away, you can learn to manage it and live a happy, healthy life.

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