As part of May’s Mental Health Month, we’re sharing stories that raise awareness about mental illness and empower those who suffer from it. This piece is part of our Darkest Day series, a collection of stories from people who’ve made it through the worst of their illness and now light the way for others. #LightYourWay
Every morning before work was exactly the same. Prior to getting out from under the covers, I spent time dreading the day that was ahead of me. I’d look out my window at the downtown Manhattan skyline — it no longer brought me joy. Then, I’d cook scrambled eggs and toast, only to take one tiny bite of each before dumping it all in the trash. This was my life as a 21-year-old who had everything going for her. But, with crippling depression and anxiety, it didn’t matter.
Each day in the summer of 2015, when my mental health was at its shakiest, I got weaker and my clothes got baggier. I had no desire to eat, which is how I knew something was seriously wrong. One morning in August, I woke up weaker than usual. What did I expect? I’d barely eaten in days. How could I when I felt so horrible? I could barely get out of bed, and when I did, I thought I was going to topple over. My mind raced, I was petrified.
Leaving my building, my hands trembled. Every step seemed to be a step closer to passing out. Before even getting to the street corner, I decided going to work wasn’t physically possible. Quickly but cautiously, I walked back to the entrance, one hand gripping onto the building’s exterior, and told the security guard I needed an ambulance. I was mortified. Continue reading A Day in the ER: Hitting Rock Bottom with My Anxiety
Classifying different types of anxiety attacks can be difficult. “Anxiety attack” is not an official clinical term. You won’t find it in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” the handbook most mental health professionals reference. There is also the issue of both mental health clients and professionals confusing anxiety attacks and panic attacks.
“Anxiety attack” is a colloquial term clients created to describe intense or extended periods of anxiety. On a scale of intensity, an anxiety attack is between mild feelings of anxiety and a panic attack. Because of its frequency, many mental health professionals adopted it. To learn more about what an anxiety attack is and dispel any confusion, read our piece on anxiety attacks vs. panic attacks.
Unlike repeated panic attacks, anxiety attacks are not necessarily a sign of a mental health condition. If you are experiencing a lot of stress or going through a rough patch in life, it’s natural to have intense anxiety that occurs frequently. Experiencing many anxiety attacks without an apparent cause, however, can be a sign of an anxiety disorder.
Despite it not being an official clinical term, there are types of anxiety attacks. Many therapists recognize they are legitimate mental health issues. We decided to classify them based on the factors that determine how people experience an anxiety attack. Continue reading Different Types of Anxiety Attacks: Understanding the Factors
Talkspace is not yet available to people under 18-years-old. Nonetheless, we have a duty to provide mental health advice to parents of teens.
Parents know being a teenager can be stressful and anxiety-provoking. There is a barrage of tests, social pressures, and people constantly nagging teens about their future. It’s no wonder one in eight adolescents have an anxiety disorder.
If your teen is feeling stressed out, worried, and nervous about various aspects of life, they’re not alone. Anxiety is a feeling everyone experiences.
Chronic anxiety, however, whether it be seasonal, general, social, or specific phobia-related, is something that should be addressed. When anxiety begins to take a toll on day-to-day life and starts affecting social interactions and relationships, your teen could be suffering from an anxiety disorder.
Below are some steps your teen can take to get chronic anxiety or an anxiety disorder under control. Continue reading Steps Your Teen Can Take to Reduce Chronic Anxiety
Knowing the difference between an anxiety attack vs. panic attack is more than an issue of semantics. It can shape the course of your mental health. If you don’t know which one you are having, it will be difficult to find the appropriate treatment or develop useful coping skills. You might waste time addressing the wrong issues.
By understanding the issue of anxiety attacks vs. panic attacks, you can more efficiently address your mental health and the issues behind the attacks. It starts with understanding the more confusing of the two, anxiety attacks.
What Are Anxiety Attacks? – Clinical Terms vs. Colloquial Terms
“Anxiety attack” is not an official clinical term. The latest edition of the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” [DSM-5], a book the vast majority of mental health professionals abide by, does not list it (we’ll be sure to update this article if that fact changes during the next release of the DSM). Continue reading Anxiety Attack vs. Panic Attack: Which One Are You Having?
Anxiety is keeping us alive right now, yet we often want to know how to get rid of it. It’s not as much of a conundrum as you might think. The key is separating the good anxiety from the bad anxiety. You need the kind that keeps you alive and functioning, but you can reduce the rest.
There are many research-backed methods of reducing the prevalence of anxiety in your life. Nonetheless, this is sometimes different than “getting rid of it.”
Developing a Realistic Attitude About Dealing with Anxiety
When people want to “get rid of anxiety,” they often ascribe different meanings to the phrase, such as:
- Reducing anxiety symptoms to the point where it is not a significant burden
- Learning to better cope with anxiety
- Stopping themselves from feeling anxiety
- Completely eliminating their sources of anxiety
The first half of the above solutions are viable; the second half is not. In this sense anxiety is not something to “get rid of.” Continue reading How to Get Rid of Anxiety: Separating the Good from the Bad
Roughly 15 million American adults live with social anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Social anxiety has grown in mainstream conversations about mental health over the years, but what does it look like to actually live with the disorder? There’s a great example viewable in one of television’s biggest sitcoms, “The Big Bang Theory.”
Rajesh Koothrappali (Raj) from “The Big Bang Theory” represents a solid case of social anxiety disorder. In earlier seasons of the show, Koothrappali’s social anxiety cripples him by rendering him speechless around women who aren’t members of his family. When he’s alone with his friends, he has no problem expressing himself. But when faced with the prospect of speaking with a woman he deems attractive, Raj often uses alcohol as a social lubricant.
Many viewers, including myself, find this character trait charming in those earlier seasons. As a therapist I understand this kind of representation can minimize the lives of those who deal with social anxiety in real life. Nonetheless, my impression is that the writers of the show handle Raj’s disorder with both compassion and humor. This leads me to believe that both the actor and those in the writers’ room understand what it’s like to experience social anxiety. Continue reading What ‘The Big Bang Theory’ Theory Teaches Us About Social Anxiety
Many clients are surprised to learn they have a diagnosis of social anxiety. In fact, according to the NIMH, an incredible 18% of the population suffers from anxiety. Of those, 63% aren’t receiving treatment, and 34% of those aren’t receiving adequate treatment. Some sufferers assume they might only be shy, introverted or quiet; others think they are awkward or lacking in social skills. Interestingly, women are 60% more likely to suffer from anxiety than men.
Here are 10 signs that what you’re dealing with might be social anxiety, and not simply shyness:
1. You skip events you are interested in, only because you think you will feel awkward.
Salsa dancing sounds cool. But you cringe thinking about how stupid you’ll look doing it, so you don’t go. Even if other people don’t know how to dance either, you assume they’ll look less silly than you. If an event involves any aspect of performing, you’re even more scared to go. Continue reading 10 Signs You Have Social Anxiety, According to a Therapist
Dating someone with anxiety issues or an anxiety disorder can be horribly stressful. Sometimes it can feel like the anxiety is a third person in the relationship, someone who wriggles in between you and your partner. This person constantly sews doubt and confusion.
No one prepared you for this, and you can’t choose who you fall for. There’s no high school class on dating, much less dating someone with a mental health condition.
Nonetheless, anxiety doesn’t have to break your relationship or put a strain on it to the point where it’s hard to enjoy. By understanding anxiety in general and how it affects both your partner and your relationship, you can love each other more deeply and connect in a new way. Educating yourself can also relieve a lot of the stress.
This article breaks down everything you need to know and do when dating someone with anxiety: how to support your partner, understanding how the anxiety can impact your relationship, looking out for your own mental health and more. Keep reading if you want to make sure anxiety doesn’t become a third person in your relationship. Continue reading Dating Someone With Anxiety: What You Need to Know and Do
Anxiety symptoms in women are generally the same as in men:
- Thoughts about everything that can go wrong or something that might be wrong already
- Obsessive thoughts
- Insomnia (sometimes a result of the thoughts)
- Chronic fatigue
- Becoming stressed quickly and easily
- Sudden fear of death, embarrassment, illness, etc.
- Fight-or-flight responses to something that can’t cause physical harm
- Repeating ritual behaviors more than necessary (checking locks, grooming, etc.)
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite
- Chest pain
- Feeling like you’re choking
- Hot flashes
- Muscles tightening
- Muscle aches
- Hairs standing up
- Hives and rashes
The differences lie in how women tend to express and process these symptoms, and how they often focus their anxiety on certain issues more than men. There are also genetic, biological and neurological differences that make women more likely to develop anxiety and experience symptoms more frequently. Continue reading Anxiety Symptoms in Women: A Quick Guide
If you want to learn more about social anxiety, this infographic is a great place to start. It breaks down issues within social anxiety, including symptoms, myths and ways to cope.
Use it as an overview to begin your journey toward understanding social anxiety. If you have it, understanding it is the first step to dealing with it. Continue reading This Infographic Will Help You Understand Social Anxiety