The description and investigation regarding anxiety disorders is relatively new. It was until the 80’s, in the 20th Century, that psychiatry deeply began researching these phenomena, which was socially believed to be an exaggeration by those suffering it, and that it was only a matter of using one of these common phrases “everything will be alright” or “don’t overreact, we all have problems”.
Even today, this causes in patients the anguish of believing that the problem they suffer is unique and, therefore, it is something they should be ashamed of, and consequently, they choose not to seek help.
Anxiety is classified among anxiety disorders, also known as “anxious disorders”, in the Spanish version of the “Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM V-R, 2013). Since 1980, anxiety has been categorized as a disorder, and stopped being considered a group of neurotic illnesses. This meant a great step towards helping the patients who lived (and still live) in a “world of nightmares”.
Nowadays, the list of anxiety disorders includes psychopathologies such as phobias, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsiveness, among others.
An example of what was presented/written before/beneath concerning the patient’s anguish with anxiety are phobias. This illness is defined as “fear or intense anxiety caused by a specific object or situation (…), the fear or anxiety is disproportionate to the real danger presented by the object or specific situation and sociocultural context”. (2013).
In a nutshell, it’s the irrational fear when facing a situation or object that, for a healthy person, doesn’t represent a bigger problem.
What the phobic patient often faces is a form of rejection in which other people consider the problem to be an exaggeration that the person/patient should be able to deal with and “stop being dramatic”. Considering this, the natural response is to remain silent because of how “ridiculous” his/her problem sounds.
When to seek for help?
The answer appears to be really simple regarding anxiety: when my problem surpasses me, and thus my day-to-day activities are affected to the point of not being able to do them anymore. Work, social life and even family life are abandoned, including the patient’s interests. Basically, when anxiety turns incapacitating, then we must seek for help. The problem is not unique and shouldn’t cause embarrassment, it must be taken seriously by whoever suffers it, and those who are part of the patient’s social circle.
The good news is that some of these problems have a cure and those which don’t, can be controlled almost to the point of disappearing.