We use a lot of terms very lightly these days— depression, traumatized, bipolar. Being sad, upset or deeply hurt by something does not hold the same meaning as being depressed. Similarly, having a sudden change in one’s mood does not make them bipolar.
We have come to misinterpret the definitions of a lot of psychological terms over time and, therefore, misuse them. This has, inadvertently, resulted in losing the meaning of these words. And when someone actually presents with the symptoms of such problems, we fail to recognize them.
I want to talk about anxiety today. If anyone is asked what they understand by the word ‘Anxiety’, they’d say ‘nervousness’. But when someone has Anxiety Disorder, it does not mean just nervousness. Moreover, most of the people would think of it as not a “big deal”, and “everyone these days has it”.
Anxiety is the feeling of intense, excessive, constant worry. According to the American Psychological Association, anxiety is “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure”. It might be a result of a mental or physical condition, side-effect of a drug, or highly stressful conditions.
There are various types of anxiety, but I’d like to talk about generalized anxiety because that is something that goes unrecognized and undiagnosed most of the time. It is not uncommon to spot someone biting their nails, playing with fingers or tips of their hair, constantly tapping their foot or doing some sort of repetitive rhythmic motion when they are nervous right before an interview or an exam or during the last few minutes of a game. But knowing someone who does this frequently does not mean they are nervous all the time. No. These are some of the signs of what a person with anxiety might present with. A few more might be sudden skin rashes without any other possible cause, restlessness, difficulty in sleeping or sleeping too much, irritability, distracted focus or impaired concentration, unexplained fatigue, sweating. Some symptoms of severe anxiety or panic may include breathlessness and difficulty in breathing, palpations and increased heart rate and blood pressure.
Nervousness is a normal response to stressful of worrying situation. But when that nervousness disrupts the smooth flow of our life or causes problems in our everyday activities, it is anxiety.
It is often seen that parents or relatives ignore these symptoms of nail biting and tapping foot and regard them as impolite, unmannerly practices. As parents, siblings, friends and part of the society, it is important and necessary for us to observe and differentiate these signs and help that person in first, recognition and then managing his or her anxiety.
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