Why Help With Anxiety Disorder Is Rarely Sought

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Anxiety is a natural part of our life. All of us experience anxiety some of the time. Typically, when we experience the mental and physical sensations of anxiety, our minds and bodies work together to steer us away from potential dangers.

The term anxiety disorder, however, describes several related psychological disorders characterised by extreme, unhelpful, pathological anxiety. This kind of anxiety, rather than helping to preserve lives, interferes with people’s ability to lead normal lives.

Psychologists have documented many different anxiety disorders. These include phobias (e.g. agoraphobia), obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder. What all of these disorders have in common is the presence of irrational pathological fears, which manifest in a variety of different ways and for a variety of different reasons. Depending on the individual disorder, the pathological fear can manifest as a panic attack, as a phobia (i.e. a persistent fear of some particular thing), or as generalized anxiety.

Among undiagnosed sufferers, one of the most hard-to-live-with anxiety disorders may be generalized anxiety disorder. As much as 5% of the UK population may suffer from excessive generalized anxiety. Yet, only a small percentage of this population ever seeks professional help. Why is it so difficult to seek help with anxiety of this kind? Because, unlike with phobias or panic attacks, it is not always obvious to the suffer what they are afraid of–or even whether or not they have a real problem.

Sufferers of generalized anxiety disorder feel subtly anxious all of their lives without knowing why. These individuals constantly worry about different, seemingly minor matters. Often, people with generalized anxiety disorder have trouble concentrating. This is because, even when they try to devote their attentions to one project or taks, their minds occupy themselves with countless minor worries. These minor worries rarely culminate in to full-blown panic attacks. Instead, they are merely replaced by other worries.

Many people with anxiety disorder simply become used to spending most of their waking hours worrying and fretting. Often, they can’t articulate what it is they’re afraid of. They simply experience the physical and mental sensations of fear. Because this fear exists, their minds “assume” that there “must be” something to fear. Thus, people with generalized anxiety may not realize that there’s something wrong with them. They assume that their anxiety is a natural response to an inherently dangerous and unpredictable world.

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