Sometimes, I like to reflect back on the “good ‘ole days.” You know, those carefree days of college with lots of fun and little responsibility. After remembering many of those wonderful and fun times, my mind goes to some not so good days and not so good times. I was a senior in college, living in an apartment with three roommates, and finishing up my senior year projects, all while student teaching full time at a school that was 45 minutes away. I was waking up at 5 am to get to the school, working on projects nonstop after teaching all day, and trying to go to bed before 11:00, while my roommates stayed up and had fun. I was a ball of stress, and on top of all of that, I wasn’t sleeping. I would lie in bed for hours, trying to sleep, but I was too wound up and too stressed and too worried about getting everything done to let my body relax. My lack of sleep left me burnt out, emotional, and snappy. At that time in my life, I’m not sure I fully understood the term anxiety, but looking back, I know that I was experiencing it at unhealthy levels.
The truth is that some anxiety is completely normal. Anxiety is actually defined as the body’s natural response to stress and is a feeling of fear or apprehension about what is to come. For example, if a woman is about to have a baby, it is completely normal for her to have some anxiety about the unknown. Will I be a good mother? How will the delivery go? How will I take care of the baby? All of these are normal questions that elicit some fear and apprehension. Or perhaps you have just begun a new job. You are overwhelmed with all of the new processes and materials. Experiencing some anxiety about how you will handle all of the new information is normal. Anxiety becomes a problem when it begins to interfere with your everyday life. When your feelings and emotions make you unable to or make it difficult for you to complete everyday tasks, then anxiety has become a problem.
Anxiety affects 18.1% of the United States population each year. That means that almost 1 out of every 5 people that you know experiences anxiety at unhealthy levels. Anxiety is actually the most common mental health issue in America today. In fact, the latest studies show that 7% of children and teens in our country now have diagnosed anxiety. Statistics clearly show that the percentage of those with anxiety continues to increase and that anxiety is becoming an epidemic in our country. On the flip side, we also know that anxiety is one of the most treatable mental health issues. There are many effective therapies and treatments to help people deal with their anxiety, yet statistics show that only 36.9% of those diagnosed with anxiety seek treatment.
Maybe you have wondered if you are experiencing anxiety at unhealthy levels, or perhaps you live with someone who seems to have very high levels of anxiety. In the next part to our “All About Anxiety” series, we will address specific symptoms of anxiety and how to know if and when you should seek treatment. The therapists at Water’s Edge Counseling have helped many individuals deal with and overcome their anxiety, and they would love to help you as well. Give us a call at 912-319-5552 if you are interested in learning more about anxiety and how therapy can help.