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Something About Anxiety: Anxiety Disorders Expressed Through Art

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Western chapter.

With the hopes of raising awareness to anxiety disorders for young women—as a group of five in VAS 2275—we have gathered some insights and interpretations in addition to drawings that relate to the different types of anxiety disorders. These disorders include Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Agoraphobia, and Phobias. We have gathered our own personal experiences in addition to formal definitions from credible sources. These are infographic images that are hand drawn with our interpretative analysis. We hope to inform young women who suffers from anxiety disorders—that even us five—have experienced anxiety attacks some point in our lives; therefore, you are not alone in this.


Panic Disorder by Carly Dick


Suffering from panic attacks can be overwhelming. They can occur without warning, leading you to feel a lack of control over your body and your mind. With my illustration on the anatomy of a panic attack I wanted to visualize the range of physical symptoms that accompany an attack. These symptoms may not always be visible to an outsider but the internal battle is very real to the sufferer. When I have suffered a panic attack, it helped me to realize that these physical symptoms are a normal reaction from your sympathetic nervous system in response to perceived threat. Nothing is wrong with you, your body is simply enacting a “fight or flight” response enabling you to deal with extreme levels of stress. Having an attack does not make you weak! If you have suffered, you know it takes great strength to pull yourself out from the attack and face the world again! Be proud of your resilience!

This portrait is meant to illustrate the internal dialogue of someone suffering from Panic disorder. During an attack you may have uncontrollable, racing thoughts that may relate to the physical sensations you are experiencing. You may start to think you will pass out, have a heart attack or even may feel like you are going to die. Some people may experience depersonalization or think they are losing their mind.  Below the illustration are some anonymous quotes about what is it like living with panic disorder, from individuals who have suffered through it.


Generalized Anxiety Disorder by Nicole Li

People with generalized anxiety disorder experience restlessness, and worry uncontrollably about common occurrences and situations. They often have a response to uncertainty and danger involving unrealistic thoughts. However, this worry may lead to interference with relationships and daily activities. The poster/Zine I created is an interpretative analysis regarding generalized anxiety disorder that is related to my personal insights in addition to online references. In this image, below there is a big bubble of thoughts with someone who suffers from generalized anxiety—the thoughts are created in my experience.

In the second image I have illustrated, these are ways to cope when one feels like there is no way to escape. Furthermore, this is my personal advice that helps me get through the day when I suffer an anxiety attack. I hope this advice will be effective for the people who suffers from generalized anxiety.


Social Anxiety Disorder by Jentje Smith

In the scope of our virtual Zine project on anxiety disorders, I chose to illustrate two characteristic features associated with social anxiety.  The first illustration is meant to express how someone suffering from social anxiety believes other people perceive them.   In essence, social anxiety is more than just being shy, but constantly feeling that others are judging one’s every move.  The second drawing is meant to illustrate how someone suffering from anxiety spends many hours exhaustively planning out routes and schedules in order to minimize the risk of public embarrassment throughout the day.  The planning is meticulous and time-consuming, in a manner, it is a coping strategy; but one that leads to additional stress and anxiety should anything happen that alters the carefully laid-out plans.


Agoraphobia by Danni Qian

During the process of making our Zine project about young women’s mental health, I choose to illustrate and explore the agoraphobia by presenting some symptoms and feelings that agoraphobics might have. Agoraphobia is one of the anxiety disorders that characterized by symptoms where people perceives the environment to be unsafe. I felt these kinds of feelings before, I used to be afraid of going to public spaces and meeting new people, so at that time I would tried everything to avoid going to public spaces, and after a long time I realized that was a mental health issue. So agoraphobia is an mental health disorder which will be easily neglected by people.

I hope those cartoonish characters can cheer you up! Agoraphobia is not just simply the fear of open spaces or crowds, it is actually a fear of having a panic attack in a situation where you feel won’t be able to get away. I mentioned the avoidance cycle down below the page, these behaviours will have detrimental impacts on your self-esteem, your relationships with others and your general happiness in life. If you think you may have panic disorder with agoraphobia, be brave, be yourself and speak to your family, your friends or physicians!


Phobias by Jamie McIntyre

Phobias are intense fears of a specific thing, object, or situation, and are more common than you think. Affecting 10% of all adults, phobias thus affect approximately 1524 students of Western’s total of 15, 240 female undergraduate, graduate, and concurrent program students. The depicted sketches are intended to represent how commonplace phobias are, displaying the top ten most common phobias for all students to relate to and to be able to see how prevalent and frequently they can occur. The page on Phobia Tips is intended to help students with self-help and phobia management, as reaching out for help can be daunting and time-consuming for anyone: especially students. It is most important to remember to breathe and to remember you are never alone.

The images we created are meant to be personal and to connect deeper with the audience in regards to these anxiety disorders. As a team, we want to raise awareness to the young women community at Western and to inform the public that mental health is not a light topic. The graphics are to increase the knowledge of anxiety disorders and are easier to understand. In addition, we want to acknowledge the people who are suffering from anxiety to feel that they are just as loved and accepted as any human being!


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A fourth year Western student double majoring in MIT and Visual Arts who has a voice to contribute her beliefs and attitudes through writing. A lover for animals, Cafe Americanos, fashion, Ed Sheeran, and casually enjoy dancing in her room to the funkiest pop replays.
This is the contributor account for Her Campus Western.