“The hardest thing to write was explaining what anxiety feels like. Every time I’d try to really write about what it feels like to have an anxiety attack, I would actually have an anxiety attack. It was good material but so incredibly uncomfortable.” - Jenny Lawson
Anxiety disorders are the most statistically common mental health conditions in the world, and may affect as many as one out of every three people at some point in their life.
Nevertheless, fewer than one-third of people with anxiety receive adequate treatment, counseling, or combined mental health care, and the majority (~75% of people seeking treatment) end up taking sedatives, hypnotics, or other anti-anxiety medications (while about 91% want to do so). This is despite the fact that many people will experience side-effects when taking these types of medications, some will even become medication-dependent, and few will fully recover from their anxiety without additional therapeutic treatment.
All the above being said, the prevalence and symptom presentation of anxiety vary significantly between studies and across cultures. This suggests that — though our collective awareness and understanding of anxiety has improved dramatically over the past two decades — people today still do not feel confident in their knowledge of what anxiety feels like in everyday life.
Though what anxiety feels like is unique for each person, there are some common experiential themes: feeling overwhelmed, feeling hyper-critical of one’s self, and feeling fearful of messing up opportunities for future happiness.
Consequently, reading through these quotes, people are likely to find at least one that feels familiar. This may help individuals recognize that what they are experiencing is anxiety, while also helping anxious individuals feel understood. Feeling understood by reading something that resonates with your personal experience can not only provide the sense of comfort that comes with realizing you are not alone in your experience, but also helps people better understand that own experience. This, in itself, can be a kind of natural healing that jump-starts or augments anxiety management and recovery.
People seeking to describe what anxiety feels like often resort to making comparisons, asking outsiders to think about what other experiences might feel like, then imagine having those feelings outside of their normal circumstances. For example:
According to Kratom Society, kratom can help to enhance feelings of well-being and relaxation. Some common symptoms of anxiety include fear, uneasiness and body tenseness. A 2018 study at the University of British Colombia found that patients felt calm and relaxed in relation to kratom. The natural plant helps alleviate most of the symptoms above by giving you a sense of well-being and by soothing your nerves.
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