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Anxiety - a 'real' problem?

Anxiety can be simply explained as your body's natural response to stress. It's a feeling of fear or apprehension about what's to come. Every individual faces some degree of anxiety on a basic level. It can pertain to stresses and jitters related to work, strained personal relations or simply the fear of starting something new. Broadly, as a concept, anxiety is fairly well understood and is rather generalised. It is equated with the regular feeling of nervousness, temporary fear or uncertainty. Even though none of these equations are completely wrong, what is wrong is the misconceptions attached to the generalisation of this condition.

What is often forgotten is that anxiety falls under the category of a ‘real’ mental illness. You know how people often feel a day before the declaration of their board results? That’s how people suffering from anxiety feel regularly for no definite reason. Due to the lack of proper understanding of the condition, it is not considered a real problem in many households in certain sections of the society. This poor understanding leads to the lack of sensitivity towards the condition and often makes the person suffering from it feel cornered and isolated, as even though they are surrounded by the closest people in their lives, the rift caused by the lack of knowledge often makes the sufferer feel far from the state of “normal” as accepted by their household or the society on the whole. This leads to self - doubt, paranoia and in fact induces more anxiety!

The sensation of a heavily pounding heart within your chest, sweat running down your face and surfacing on your palms, the sudden jitters and knee jerks beyond your control, a sense of feeling light headed and sometimes the opposite, the head being heavier than a rock and over all, just the basic inability to control this sudden wave of unexplained fear can all be defining features/ symptoms of a typical anxiety attack. The degree and severity of it differs among different individuals and situations.

Those who suffer from severe anxiety will know the difference between their condition and the “day to day” anxiety. The level of anxiety people usually feel while preparing for exams, important proposals or awaiting results or answers professional or personal, is definitely considered to be normal, although those who suffer from the disorder also may feel anxious for all the same reasons, but the only difference is that the time frame of anxiety and nervousness may be a substantially broader one and the level of panic may be that beyond control, requiring external intervention. This is precisely how those suffering is relatively at a disadvantage on a day to day basis. The inability to complete designated tasks on time due to the panic, induces more jitters and stress. In short, this is a rather vicious cycle.

With personal experience of this maladaptive disorder, I have learnt that acceptance of it being a genuine problem is the first step in controlling it. Our society is still very far from reaching a stage of complete understanding of mental illnesses as it is still very stigmatised and is considered a taboo. Due to such a surrounding it is important for those suffering, to individually understand the truth of their condition and to focus on restricting it rather than curing it. Since anxiety results in maladaptive behaviours of some sort, it lacks a complete cure and is rather erratic and unpredictable in nature.

Therefore, it is necessary for an individual suffering from it, to understand their pattern of behaviour and recognise what stimulates it, they can reach this inference with the help and guidance of a professional, majoring in this field. Sometimes sharing personal experiences and being reassured of its existence among others can result in feeling some sense of security within those suffering. With improved understanding and attention to this condition, it can be controlled in a broader sphere!

As far as the people of the society, the spectators of this disorder are concerned, the least they can do is not believe the myths and stigma attached to mental conditions and to understand that this is a “real” illness just like any other attached to a different body part. A basic level of sensitivity and acceptance can go a long way in making the rough journey of a sufferer a slightly cushioned one.

by - Supriya Barua

graphic by - Vanshita Shokeen


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Delhi, India

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