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“Just snap out of it”
Mental Health Awareness Week

posted 8th May 2017 at 9:00am

 

We’ve all experienced some form of anxiety. It’s something that happens to all of us from time to time, whether you’re feeling apprehensive for an upcoming interview, or are just nervous at the thought of an impending exam.

In situations where we are tested, it’s common to be fearful about how we will perform. We ask ourselves questions like: “What if I make a mistake? Will I forget my words? What if they don’t like me? It’s completely natural to worry about the curveballs life can throw at you.

And besides, because we all get these little flutters, that means that we all understand how anxiety can affect other people… right?

Wrong

 

Anxiety isn’t just the feeling of being worried or depressed. ‘I don’t think I can finish my breakfast today because of my exam later… I must have anxiety.”

A true anxiety sufferer is more likely to say; “I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, I’m shaking, I’m scared to move. It’s all just too much to cope with.”

 

Anxiety is far more complex than some of us make it out to be. The worst thing we can say to someone experiencing anxiety is ‘just snap out of it’, because – believe us – if they could, they would.

One of the most frustrating things about having an anxiety disorder, is knowing that there’s no reason to be freaked out (while you’re freaking out), but still being unable to switch that feeling off.

We all have an automatic fight or flight switch we have no control over, and when we feel under threat our bodies release hormones which help us to either fight the danger or run away from it. Our hearts race. We sweat. Our bodies go into overdrive.

Now imagine experiencing that feeling everyday of your life. For anxiety sufferers, some days are worse than others. Some days they may feel as though the anxiety has all but blurred into the past like a bad dream, only to find that it returns worse than ever the following day. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions.

 

How can you tell when someone truly is suffering from anxiety? It may not be obvious. Many anxiety sufferers hide their symptoms or present alternative explanations, but just consider if they:

  • Have started to decline social interactions. Maybe they’re hiding, feeling like they can’t handle being in crowded rooms or even outside at all.
  • Have heart palpitations, excessive sweating, or dizziness without explanation. Perhaps they’ve been told by a doctor that there’s nothing physically wrong with them.
  • Seem worried about their own worrying, questioning every decision they make.
  • All of these and more could be identifiable symptoms of anxiety.

 

So, how do we approach the subject? How many times have you heard a friend tell someone else to “not to be so dramatic,” to “cheer up”, or just “stop being anxious”? Although we mean well, we don’t truly understand, and this leads to feelings of loneliness.

We wouldn’t walk up to someone in a wheelchair and tell them to ‘get up and walk’, or ask a deaf person to ‘listen carefully’, so why do we think anxiety is so easy to just snap out of?

During Mental Health Awareness week, 8th-14th May, let’s take the time to improve our understanding of mental health, not only anxiety, but depression, PTSD and many others.

Rates of depression and anxiety among young people have increased over recent years, and it’s important that we support our friends.

If you know someone who is experiencing anxiety that is affecting their ability to live their life the way they want to, the SU Advice Centre is here to help.

 

E-mail advice@lincolnsu.com or drop in Monday–Thursday, 9:30–4:30 and Friday 11–4:30.

For more information on Mental Health Awareness week visit mentalhealth.org.uk