By Robert Wheatley – Health and Innovations Editor
Every month, Trident Media will highlight certain mental disorders to raise awareness of the importance of taking care of your mind’s wellbeing. University can be stressful, so paying attention to your mental health is very important. If you’re ever feeling like you can’t cope, reach out to friends and family, and if needed, the University of Hertfordshire has services available to help manage your stress.
I suppose it’s worth providing some personal insight to this article: I have experienced anxiety from the beginning of my early teens, and while it likes to crop up now and then, I can honestly say I have mostly overcome it. It’s tiring, but absolutely treatable, either through therapy, the support of family and friends, or medication; whatever you need for help is OK.
Anxiety is normal; without it, we wouldn’t feel too much! There are times where we are more anxious than others, like with exams, maybe a job interview or a performance, and that’s normal. However, anxiety might arise a bit more in some people, and it can get to the point where it becomes disruptive, or even debilitating.
This is an anxiety disorder; also known as generalized anxiety disorder. Anxiety is prevalent in other disorders; panic disorder, for example, which consists of panic attacks that at times can seem entirely random. Sometimes, this can accompany an anxiety disorder, but it too is treatable with cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), or medication.
Like a lot of mental disorders, we aren’t too sure why some people are more prone to anxiety, but research has pointed to chemical imbalances in the brain, genetics, or potentially the environment or other physical disorders. Whatever the case, what is more important is the treatment, as well as understanding the symptom one experiences.
Symptoms are both physical and mental: one can experience headaches, ‘brain fog’, nausea, fatigue, and sweating among other things; but mentally experience a feeling of being on edge, having difficulty concentrating, as well as feeling of worry. A specific phobia can cause these symptoms, perhaps if one has a fear of spiders, but the irritating thing about anxiety is just how random these symptoms can appear to be.
If one experiences panic attacks, symptoms include dizziness and nausea, light-headedness, a tingling sensation in your body, and at times a feeling of dread or fear that one maybe dying. It sounds excessive, but having experienced them myself, the body certainly can provide some awful symptoms.
Again, like many mental illnesses, anxiety is something that sticks around – but gets better. Hearing that is not inspiring, but, honestly, treatment does make it better. If it’s bad now, it won’t always be that way.
The best thing you can do is see your local GP. They can discuss treatment options with you, and get you on the road to recovery. With milder symptoms, your doctor may refer you to self-help courses or other symptom management that you can do on your own, or may refer you to some therapy – typically cognitive behavioral therapy.
Counselling can be beneficial, and this is offered by the University of Hertfordshire’s counselling services. These can refer you to GP services, and these may recommend medication to help you cope with symptoms — taking medication is something you need to discuss with a doctor.
Medication is usually a second option, and was the treatment I took (along with therapy) which has helped me get a lot better. Types of medication vary, some for long term treatment and others for short term. The idea of taking medication can be worrying, but if that’s what you need to help, that’s OK — different treatment works for different people.
As with all mental health conditions, and your emotional wellbeing in general, get support if and when you need it — you deserve happiness.
Disclaimer: while our articles utilise reliable sources, the best information available will be at your local GP.