Unpopular Opinion – Anxiety

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In honor of World Mental Health Day just passing, I figured I’d touch on a topic that really bothers me. I’d like to discuss with you the unpopular opinion that the term anxiety is extremely overused. As an educator, I take mental health and disorders very seriously – I’d never want to downplay anyone’s legitimate mental health struggles. However, I do believe that many people, especially in the millennial generation, use the word anxiety interchangeably with the word stress. I will admit that I am guilty of doing so before learning how incorrect I was. Attributing all your fears and stressors to anxiety can be seen as a mockery of those who actually suffer with anxiety disorders. My personal belief is that because the term is overly used it dismisses the severity of the disorder. Let’s discuss the difference between anxiety and stress.

Anxiety

  • A general term for disorders with symptoms of nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worry. Symptoms can also be demonstrated as raised heartbeat, sweating, nausea, dizziness, and sensitivity to surroundings.
  • Anxiety can require a psychiatric diagnosis and medications such as Xanax, Librium, Valium, and Ativan.
  • Anxiety is anticipatory and is your body’s response to an unknown threat (ex. nothing bad happened to make you feel this way, you are thinking of possible bad things that haven’t happened).
  • Though mild anxiety can cause unbalance and discomfort, sever anxiety can affect a person’s normal day-to day functioning.

Stress

  • Stress is a state of mental or emotional tension as a result of an uncomfortable or difficult circumstance.
  • Stress can be good or bad because it is your body’s normal reaction to life’s natural ups and downs.
  • Techniques for eliminating stress include finding coping strategies (meditation, journaling, self-care time) or simply eliminating the problem that caused the stress.

In conclusion, while the two share common symptoms, the causes are different – therefore they are not synonymous . The test that you know is coming up or the new job you are starting aren’t giving you anxiety, it’s stress. Getting upset because you’re thinking about the possibility of you failing that test or not getting along with your co-workers at your new job is anxiety – know the difference. If you or someone you know is struggling with actual symptoms of anxiety, I encourage you to consult a professional. However, the trend of self-diagnosed anxiety has got to stop. It is offensive and demonstrates ignorance for a culture of 40 million people in the United States who suffer each day.

EMINENT (1)

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