Response to a scenario; Anxiety

Response to a scenario: anxiety

Introduction

Anxiety disorders refer to a category of mental disorders characterized by feelings of fear and anxiety. People suffering from anxiety disorders usually have a constant worry concerning a future event and it manifests as fear and nervousness when reacting to current events (Lissek&Grillon, 2015). More females than males suffer from anxiety disorders. Additionally, in their past, individuals with anxiety have been exposed to factors that predispose them to the disorder including poverty, genetic factors like family history of mental disorders and child abuse. Moreover, people with anxiety tend to have concomitant mental disorders including personality, substance abuse or depressive disorders(Lissek&Grillon, 2015). The causes of anxiety are varied in nature and may be categorized as selective mutism, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, agoraphobia and generalized anxiety disorders.

 

The problem

Like most people suffering from other mental illnesses, individuals with anxiety disorders can often be misunderstood by the society. Mental illness is most of the time not as noticeable as physical illness, and thus most people may not recognize someone with mental illness. The misunderstanding stems from a lack of knowledge and experience concerning mental illness. Most people rely on stereotypes to make judgment on individuals with mental illness. This may manifest as stigma from other members of the society towards people with mental illness. Stigma has three components which are a stereotype, prejudice, and discrimination. Stereotype refers to a negative belief concerning a person or a group; in this case, people living with anxiety (Thornicroft et al., 2007). Such beliefs may include incompetence or character weakness. Additionally, prejudice refers to one’s agreement with the negative belief as well as the emotional reactions and attitudes due to those beliefs. For instance, one may believe that people with anxiety disorders are dangerous and have a fear of such people. Furthermore, discrimination refers to the behavioral response to the prejudice. Discrimination may manifest in many ways in both social and occupational lives of people with anxiety disorders.

The stigma against people suffering from anxiety disorders has severe implications on their lives as well as their friends, care providers, and families. Studies in Australia indicate that up to 40% of people suffering from mental illnesses have experienced stigma, with further reports showing that it is more prevalent for females than males (S. A. N. E., 2013). Also noteworthy is the fact that the caregivers of people living with anxiety disorders are also subject to stigma and discrimination from colleagues and the society. The principal effect of stigma is to exclude and deny rights to people living with anxiety through some reinforcing attitudes and behaviors which span various aspects of the society(Thornicroft et al., 2007). Stigmatization is perpetrated through social, political and economic structures that result in unequal opportunities for people living with anxiety. Stigma has dire negative consequences on the individual suffering from anxiety disorder. It prevents the individual from seeking help due to their condition as they are afraid of judgment and discrimination. Moreover, it affects their self-confidence and may lead to low self-esteem which can be a cause of other comorbid mental illnesses such as substance abuse or depression(S. A. N. E., 2013). Stigma also limits the social lives of people suffering from anxiety, leading to problems maintaining family relations and friendships.

People suffering from anxiety experience stigma in different ways. First, the community may treat people with anxiety from the perspective of the various myths about the disease. Due to a lack of knowledge or ignorance, members of the community may sideline the individual with anxiety; hence, they may feel left out and unable to enjoy the company of others and a sense of belonging. In the residential areas, people with anxiety disorders may be given the cold shoulder or even be mistreated by other tenants(Thornicroft et al., 2007). Landlords, accommodation workers, and agents were also found to be more likely to describe their rooms as unavailable if they encountered a potential tenant with anxiety disorders. Schools are also a source of stigma for people living with anxiety. Students with anxiety report that friends and colleagues ridicule them about their symptoms. Moreover, parents and teachers also show stigma towards students with anxiety disorders.

Additionally, stigma may come from the health professionals charged with providing care and counseling to the individuals with anxiety. Most of the anxiety patients usually put their trust in their health care providers as they are expected to understand the conditions better than the average person. However, some healthcareproviders exhibit stigma against their patients. About 44% of people suffering from anxiety reported that they received different treatment from their healthcare providers after they discovered the history of mental illness on the patients(S. A. N. E., 2013). In the workplace, the attitudes toward mental illness and anxiety disorders seem more positive as employers aim to provide equal opportunities to people living with mental illness or people close to them.

Additionally, about 74% of employers described their experience working with people with anxiety as positive(S. A. N. E., 2013). On the other hand, caregivers of people living with anxiety disorders report stigma from colleagues as they are viewed as irrelevant or problematic. They feel they are poorly supported and are not afforded the respect they deserve at their places of work(MHCA, 2012). Moreover, most mental healthcare professionals and clinicians do not recognize the roles and expertise of the caregivers and hence do not include them in treatment planning exercises. Therefore, most of the caregivers resort to social isolation as they feel they are not understood.

 

Advice to individuals with anxiety disorders

Individuals with anxiety should speak out and seek to educate people around them about their mental disorder and their experiences. This would help to reduce stigmatization from the society as most of it arises from a lack of knowledge or ignorance. Additionally, people living with anxiety disorders should seek help from healthcare professionals and carers who will provide counseling and treatment services which improve the quality of life for the patient (Archer et al., 2012). This is vital since anxiety is a manageable condition. Moreover, individuals with anxiety should join groups comprising other people with anxiety disorders, and as a result, they can have a channel through which they can voice their opinions and raise awareness with the public on anxiety and stigmatization. This ensures that their rights and needs are observed and respected by other people.

 

Advice to caregivers

Caregivers should take regular breaks from work to avoid burn out. Carers can seek help from facilities with respite services that can provide care to persons with an anxiety disorder, hence, allowing the carer to have time for other aspects of their life(MHCA, 2012). Taking care of individuals with anxiety can be a taxing job and can have significant implications for the mental and physical health of the caregiver. About 70% of caregivers have reported that in the recent past their health has deteriorated as a result of their work(MHCA, 2012). Affected caregivers can seek help from CarerCounselling programs that provide psychological and emotional support. Caregivers also need to further their knowledge and training on anxiety so that they can actively participate in the planning of care for people with anxiety disorders. As a result, their input and presence may be taken into consideration by mental health professionals as well as clinicians when making decisions.

 

 

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