Imagine a state of mind where a sudden feeling of worry, fear and restlessness prevail. Doesn't sound like a piece of cake, does it? Rather, it sounds like a nightmare. For some, this nightmare has proved to be a reality as they are continuously burdened with anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorder is medically defined as a mental illness that puts people in a constant state of fear and worry. Many have described this mental illness as both uncontrollably significant and significantly uncontrollable. It may manifest as a displeasing combo of increased heart rate, dizziness, trembling, chills, shortness of breath, chest pain, and even dry mouth! A recent study by Butabika Hospital and the School of Public Health at Makerere University in four districts in Uganda showed a high rate of anxiety disorder up to about 30% with women more prone to the disorder.
Anxiety, as a disorder, could be attributed to a multitude of factors. First and foremost, traumatic experiences such as the death of a loved one, war, domestic violence, and bullying. This is because such experiences are bound to put the mind out of its natural and peaceful state and into a state of fright especially if these situations are persistent. Additionally, a lot of people face anxiety disorder due to chemical changes in the brain. In the books of psychiatry, it is said that our emotions and feelings are controlled by different chemicals in our brains, thus what we feel depends on what chemicals have been secreted. In this case, it may be that the brain chemical is being secreted at the wrong time and in the wrong proportions as well hence the unusual and extreme feeling of anxiety even without immediate triggers. Also, anxiety disorder could be brought about by the abuse of substances. People who frequently take drugs and alcohol are more prone to this when they get cravings and withdrawal due to inaccessibility to the particular abused substance. To them, it is almost like being denied a basic need as their bodies have become dependent. During such cravings, one may be filled with utmost worry since one’s body will seem as if it is in desperate need of that particular substance. On the other hand, anxiety has been found to predispose, especially young people, to abuse alcohol and other addictive substances.
The downs that come with anxiety disorder are plethoric; some of which may include progression to depression which is a mental state characterized by chronic sadness, a pessimistic sense of inadequacy and loss of interest in usual activities. To add to that, anxiety disorder could also cause insomnia which is the inability to sleep. One’s mind becomes cloudy with so much worry leaving no room for rest or relief at any one point. Just like one may fail to sleep before they get the news they have been longing to hear, people facing anxiety disorder do not have the luxury of having their minds at rest. It may cause a lot of difficulty in maintaining relationships with family, friends and partners since one may not be as interested in having some fun and spending good quality time with loved ones. Through this, rifts form and relationships end up falling out which essentially leads to a poor quality of life.
On the brighter side of this, anxiety disorder, once diagnosed by a trained and qualified professional, can indeed be treated. Psychiatrists have recommended the use of prescribed medications. Furthermore, seeking psychotherapy from qualified providers is highly encouraged. Bottling up all the negative emotions is a very clear recipe for disaster. So, talking to someone and receiving professional advice is very likely to cause a turn for the better. Also, self-care is very crucial when it comes to mental wellbeing. Take a walk, do some exercise or go out with friends to take your mind off stressful factors in your environment. Even eating healthy makes a substantial change in your mood for the better. It is said that taking certain herbal teas, like chamomile tea, also helps with relaxation. It is important to always remember that not all burdens you feel are yours to carry. Sometimes, all you have to do is smile, breathe and go slow on yourself.
Mercy J. Babirye
Yr. 12 Alphas