Understanding Anxiety Disorders
Everyone will feel worry every now and then. When we expect to encounter challenging or dangerous situations, anxiety will act like a fire alarm to alert us the possible dangers ahead and to make preparation.
Nevertheless, when anxiety affects our daily life, like learning or social functioning, to the extent that it causes significant distress or body discomforts, you may be suffering from anxiety disorders. According to a local study, anxiety disorders affected around 7% teenagers in Hong Kong, and one of the most common anxiety disorders is generalised anxiety disorder.
Generalised anxiety disorder often begins in adolescents. The affected teens cannot help but worry about these and other things such as school work and peer relationships. This situation is like a defective fire alarm, triggering false alarms that make individuals fall into a constant state of alert, always thinking of something bad will happen.
These individuals worry very much about everyday things, making them hard to focus on study or other activities. They will need constant reassurance from others or avoid certain situations or activities because of fear. As they are constantly stressed, they may feel muscle tension, palpitations or out of breath. Headache, gastrointestinal discomfort and shaking hands are also very common. Furthermore, they may sleep poorly and have nightmare. Over time, they will be emotionally disturbed, easily startled and throw tempers frequently.
If some of the above conditions occur over a period of time and affect your daily life, please consider seeking advice from professionals.
What can you do if you or someone you know have similar conditions?
Step One : Professional Assessment
We will see a doctor when we are feeling ill. Likewise, if you or someone you know suffer from anxiety, do seek professional assessment from doctor or clinical psychologist to prevent the condition from getting worse.
Step Two : Appropriate Treatment
If treatment is indicated upon assessment, there are treatments that have been clinically proven to be effective for anxiety disorders.
Health care workers will first understand the situation and come up with a treatment plan together with the affected individual. The individual will then be guided to modify negative way of thinking step-by-step, and to learn about anxiety management techniques, e.g. relaxation exercises. Through treatment, the individual can establish a healthier way of thinking and lifestyle.
Doctor may prescribe drugs after assessing the condition of the individuals.
Step Three : Listening Empathetically and Walk together
When our loved ones suffer from anxiety, we may try to find solutions to help them. However, this may put the individuals under even greater stress as they cannot control their worries.
Avoid to say:
“You think too much! What is there to worth about?”
“You should relax!”
Try not to think of solutions. Spare more time to listen, understand and to accept his/her feelings and needs at the moment:
Try to say:
“You are always so tense, I know you must be feeling terrible.”
“Let’s look for help together. Take your time. I’ll keep you company.”
When facing anxiety, great courage and determination are needed to seek assessment and treatment. The encouragement and company of family and friends throughout the process will be important to the recovery.
If you wish to get more relevant information, please call:
Hospital Authority Mental Health 24-hour Hotline: 2466 7350
Social Welfare Department Hotline: 2343 2255
*Please consult respective organizations for the most updated information.