Often times anxiety is a “silent” disease. It can look different for everyone including members of the same family.
Some people turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms like drugs and/or alcohol to numb it out. Some try to sleep it off. For others, it is tackled by a flurry of activity.
Anxiety is one of the most common “illnesses” of our times. Over 3 million cases are reported in the US each year.
It respects no age, gender or race. If you look at most of the top 10 causes of death per year in the United States, you will see that anxiety can be implicated in many, if not most, of them.
Well meaning friends and family often tell the person things like:
Don’t worry so much.
Just try to relax.
Quit thinking so much.
What our loved ones don’t understand is that it’s not as easy as that. Anxiety can crop up out of the blue and be caused, or aggravated by a host of things: hormones, caffeine/stimulants, repressed memories, triggers or an overtaxed fight or flight system to name a few.
It’s not always a bad thing in normal circumstances either. It’s what protects us from danger.
In my life, the coping mechanisms most often manifested comes with a flurry of activity. Cleaning, organizing and purging to be exact. While anxiety troubles me, I also often see it as my kick in the pants when I’ve let things slip either due to busyness OR being tired….because that’s another thing. Prolonged or chronic anxiety is so taxing on the body that systems and hormones malfunction and often render the person exhausted.
Prolonged anxiety with a heart rate increase, or skipped beats, can drive a person to be fearful. They try not to overdo things because they are afraid it will make their heart act funny again. They become paralyzed.
Many people with anxiety are on heart medication in conjunction with their anti-anxiety med due to the increased stress on their heart.
If someone you know or love suffers from anxiety, please understand it’s not just a typical stressful day…or week…or month. It’s causing physical manifestations in their body and often causes them to withdraw or isolate. Love them through it. Listen to their story.
Do you have any tips to share on coping mechanisms that have been helpful in your life?