Today during my lunch break I typed the question, “Why is anxiety a mental health condition?” into Google.
I have many hundreds of articles and have read a considerable number of books that refer to anxiety as being a mental health condition, so I expected to get hundreds of results. Instead, Google returned: “No results found for ‘Why is anxiety and mental health condition?’”.
I was gob smacked.
‘I know,’ I thought, ‘I’ll change “condition” to “issue”’.
I got the same result?
Not want to give up easily, I changed “issue” to “problem”.
I got the same result!
This third search did however deliver a link to a similar question to the one I’d posed, “Is anxiety a mental health problem?”
I clicked on the link and found myself on the Mind.org.uk site – https://bit.ly/3aBHkRC.
The answer to Mind’s question – “Is anxiety a mental health problem?” and to the question I’d asked is:
“When it’s diagnosed as an anxiety disorder.”
To be diagnosed as an anxiety disorder a person’s anxiety symptoms must fit a particular set of medical criteria.
A key criterion of which is that the symptoms have become so overwhelming and intense, that they prevent a person from doing everyday activities and so substantially interfere with, or limit, their ability to live their life as fully as they want to.
One of the ways in which anxiety can prevent you from engaging in everyday activities is by driving avoidance behaviour. You begin to avoid work, social occasions, going to the shops, family get-togethers, etc. This gradually shrinks your world, which in turn can fuel more anxiety, because we all have an innate need for connection with others. A vicious cycle has been created.
There are lots of anxiety disorders
There are lots of anxiety disorders – the Anxiety Canada website lists eleven. If you’re not sure whether you have an anxiety disorder or want to be more familiar with the different types of anxiety or anxiety-related problems, you can check out the descriptions of all eleven anxiety disorders here – https://bit.ly/36IOQc1.
It’s important as you read the descriptions to keep in mind, that:
- it’s common to experience elements of more than one anxiety disorder. This means as you read the descriptions, you might find yourself saying, “Yes! This sounds like me, but so does this!”
- these descriptions are just meant to give you an idea of the types of anxiety problems you might be experiencing. You shouldn’t use them to self-diagnose. If you are concerned that you may be experiencing an anxiety disorder, it’s important that you seek medical advice. An untreated anxiety disorder can cause persistent misery and contribute to a host of additional psychological and medical symptoms.
It’s also important to remember that anxiety disorders are common. The current worldwide occurrence for anxiety disorders is 7.3 per cent of people, suggesting that one person in every 14 around the globe has an anxiety disorder at any one point in time. It is estimated that 11 – 22 per cent of the world’s population will suffer with an anxiety disorder in any one-year period (Bromet et al., 2011; Baxter et al., 2013); that’s up to 1 in 5 people.
Given those statistics it’s not surprising to find that some well-known people have suffered with anxiety disorders, including singers Adele, Robbie Williams and Justin Timberlake, actors Jennifer Lawrence, Johnny Depp and Scarlett Johansson, and sports people such as the former All Black John Kirwan and footballer David Beckham.
The good news …
The good news is that it is possible to overcome an anxiety disorder. One, if not the most effective, treatment is cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy. Research has shown it to be effective in the treatment of panic disorder, phobias, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder, among many other anxiety related conditions.
Important: If you are experiencing problematic anxiety, I recommend you consult your GP or healthcare provider in the first instance to find out if your anxiety could be related to your physical health. Your doctor can check for signs of an underlying medical condition that may need treatment.
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