Anxiety: Let's Talk About It

Anxiety is no joke. We’ve all been stressed, sad, and nervous, but clinical anxiety is much more than having mood swings or feeling stressed.

According to Dr. Richard Maddock, “if your anxiety is unpleasant but not constant, severe or overwhelming, then it is probably not an anxiety disorder.” Severe anxiety is persistent and exhausting and usually gets in the way of your daily tasks. The constant feeling of overwhelming heaviness and darkness is different for everyone. Some people who have anxiety also suffer from depression, others just feel stressed, and some might even have social anxiety. This prevents people from wanting to go out and even causes physical reactions like hair loss. Sometimes, it can manifest itself as panic attacks, in which the person has an episode of severe anxiety accompanied by physical symptoms like an elevated heart rate, nausea, shortness of breath, shaky limbs, etc.

This is an important topic to discuss because it is increasingly common among students. Midterms are coming up and we all have a lot going on. It is not unusual to hear “I didn’t sleep at all last night finishing this essay,” or “I don’t have time to eat anymore,” and even “I feel like my hair is falling out because of how stressed I am” among fellow classmates. This is alarming. Getting an education should not have to ruin our mental, and even physical, health.

Antidepressants are one of the most effective treatments for depression and anxiety but this should be consulted with a medical professional. Everything doesn't work for everyone. “Their use is not restricted to the treatment of depression,” says Dr. Maddock. “In fact, most “antidepressants” work as well (or better) in the treatment of anxiety disorders as they do for depression. The name “antidepressant” was given to these medicines before it was discovered that they were very effective treatments for most anxiety disorders.” Besides this, the patient can find ways to relax so that he/she/they can minimize the anxiousness.

Some good relaxation techniques are practicing yoga, taking a minute to just breathe, meditation, and massages. (You can ask your roommate to help with the latter!) Something that really works for me is giving myself some pampering. Whether that’s a long shower, taking some time off work to paint my nails, or even going shopping, it always works! By giving yourself some free time to make you feel better about yourself, you are putting that stress on the back of your mind for a while and putting your well-being first. After I do my hair or paint my nails, I feel a confidence boost that helps me perform better in my work. Taking care of yourself is always necessary and never a waste of time. (But don’t start painting your nails at 11:55 p.m. if your article is due by midnight, obviously). Find your balance!

Woman Looking at Sea While Sitting on BeachIt is also very important to note that, if your friend is the one who has anxiety, you should try to understand him/her/them! Always remember that “I don’t feel like going” is a completely valid excuse to not hang out. Don’t call them “boring” or “lame”! Instead, stay in and watch a movie with them; or go out but let them know that you are just a phone call away. Respect them if they want space or personal time, but be there for them whenever they need it. Trust me, having someone there for you helps.

 

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline: 1-800-950-6264

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255