Anxiety affects everyone at some point. There is no escaping this very human emotion. Muscles can become tense, and a person’s heart beats wildly in their chest. It is important to look at why this happens and when it gets out of control. The feeling of anxiety can take over someone’s life and emotions very quickly. There are times when anxiety gets the best of people and gets in the way of functioning well and tending to responsibilities. While it is a commonly experienced emotion, it’s essential to learn how to cope with it well, rather than turn towards negative behaviors.
How Anxiety Emerges
The Anxiety Disorders section of the American Psychiatric Association’s list of psychological disorders is continually being updated to include new things. Trauma and stress-related disorders are now included, along with obsessive-compulsive disorders in two categories. The overlap is common with these types of disorders because people don’t always think about anxiety as being part of this experience. Knowing what to expect when people talk about anxiety is important. Three different types of anxiety have emerged that people don’t think about or are unaware of but are equally disruptive to people’s lives.
Selective mutism is an anxiety-related disorder that affects people’s ability to find their words or speak in certain situations. They may be able to speak in other cases but find it very hard to do at different times. The disorder generally starts in childhood between the ages of 2 and 5 years old. Children may go to daycare or preschool and not seem to be able to talk outside the home. When they are home, they are chatty and lively but close up around people they don’t know or in social situations. Children usually grow out of this behavior but are more likely to have an anxiety disorder when they get older. Treatment options for this typically include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which is hands-on and focused on behavioral patterns and thoughts.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)
This psychological disorder happens when a person is preoccupied with their appearance and how they appear to others. They may believe they are flawed, even though others don’t think so. Someone suffering from BDD spends a lot of time and effort fixated on this appearance flaw. They try to change it, cover it up, or reassure others about it. This may cause problems for people who spend hours altering their appearance. Sometimes people avoid going out in public to deal with anxiety and not bother at all. This can get in the way of having personal relationships with friends, family, and loved ones. The person may consider plastic surgery to fix the perceived flaw they see or turn to substance use to deal with the issues. Psychotherapy and treatment are usually needed to help them reframe their thoughts to loosen anxious preoccupation and empower them to find joy within themselves.
Trichotillomania is a mental health disorder that is hard to recognize. It is a disorder that causes urges to pull hair from their own body, scalp, eyebrows, or eyelashes. Individuals feel tension and anxiety before, during, and after the issue. A small percentage of people struggle with this, but it usually starts in the teen years and goes well into adulthood. The challenge with this is helping people find different coping mechanisms for dealing with their anxiety. Some people are at risk for this disorder because they have a family history, and others may feel lonely, stressed, or frustrated and need relief. As with several self-harming practices, a sense of control and comfort may accompany the hair-pulling, providing a catalyst for further flare-ups of trichotillomania.
Reversing the Trend
Trichotillomania is not just about hair. It is not really about someone’s nose with body dysmorphic disorder, and it is not about speaking out loud with selective mutism. It is about negative emotions the individuals who suffer from these disorders feel and having challenges coping with those feelings. The fuel they experience, like stress or negative emotions, can stir up the issue, unless they learn to trust themselves and learn the techniques and tools of coping with their diagnosis. They can seek psychological help, mental health support, and other means of getting help as they deal with the unique challenges they may face based on their needs.
The goal is to help people learn to trust themselves through the process of healing. Substance use disorder, shame, stigma, anxiety, and any of these related disorders can all play off of each other, and they are not mutually exclusive. The worst thing a person can do is act like these behaviors are not a big deal or are healthy coping mechanisms. It is difficult to treat what is not acknowledged. Acknowledgment brings it into the light and away from shame or stigma. Once a person feels less shame, they can own the diagnosis and own their recovery as they begin to feel hope that things will get better. That is the power of sharing the struggle with others and seeking help.
Ashley Addiction Treatment is an innovative treatment program located on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. Ashley provides support for professionals seeking help with addiction. We are able to help people with co-occurring disorders and offer confidential treatment programs to meet your needs. Please reach out to us today at (800) 799-4673.