8 April 2022
By Roger Kennedy
Mental health is a complex topic to discuss. Even experts who have encountered many cases of mental illnesses have still difficulty differentiating them. This is due to many symptoms of certain mental health disorders overlapping.
Despite the prevalence of mental illnesses globally, many still don’t understand the differences among disorders. The confusion about the differences between certain mental health disorders could be problematic because it could lead to misdiagnosis of the signs when someone needs help.
Anxiety, often associated with many mental health disorders, is described as the uneasiness someone experiences when facing a stressful situation. Feeling a moderate amount of anxiety is normal and is even helpful. The problem only comes in when it gets too intense or goes on for a long time, which may lead to a more serious mental health disorder. So, if you’re unsure about whether what you’re feeling is normal anxiety or an undiagnosed mental illness, here are some ways to discern anxiety from other mental health disorders:
Know The Primary Symptoms
Anxiety is often lumped with another mental disorder, like depression. These two mood disorders can have similar signs and symptoms and usually occur to a person simultaneously. One of the reasons is that it affects a particular neurotransmitter called serotonin. Most of the time, anxiety could eventually lead to depression.
So, here are the primary symptoms so you can know the difference between anxiety and depression:
- Mental Symptoms: apprehension about what could happen in the future, increased worrying thoughts, feeling of wanting to run away from things that trigger their anxiety
- Physical Symptoms: heightened fight-or-flight response like shaking and sweating, faster heart rate; hyperventilation, stomach pain, nausea
- Mental Symptoms: feelings of sadness, hopelessness about the future, listlessness; possible suicidal thoughts
- Physical Symptoms: Severe lack of energy or drive, lack of emotions, slowed thinking and behaviours; appetite changes, headaches, sleep problems, burnout
Consult A Therapist
When you’re still in doubt about what you feel and experience, it would be best to seek professional help from a certified therapist or psychologist. In doing so, find a local therapist that suits your needs and will be able to help you to recover. They could help you receive treatment based on your requirements, like Cognitive Behaviour Treatment or CBT therapy. CBT can be a helpful tool— either alone or combined with other treatments. This could treat mental health disorders like depression, eating disorders, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It could also help you to manage certain stressful life situations effectively. This therapy aims to identify your negative thoughts and beliefs and challenge or correct them.
Keep in mind that in finding a certified therapist or psychologist, it is vital to find one whom you feel comfortable with. The right professionals can help you clear your mind and manage stress so it won’t be overwhelming for you. Also, they can effectively diagnose what you’re experiencing and could free you from your mental health disorder symptoms.
Self-awareness is described as stepping back to observe your thoughts and feelings as they unfold. Noticing your emotions can help you discern whether what you’re feeling at the moment is a normal response to a particular event or it’s rooted in something troubling from your past. By adding a layer of awareness, you could identify how your thoughts affect your emotions and behaviours.
For instance, you might be anxious when facing situations like your first date, preparation for an important test, or speaking publicly to a broad audience. So, the butterflies in your stomach? It’s normal. However, if you suddenly feel dread and doom, you’re being too tense and preoccupied than usual. You will know that your response might not be expected if an intense symptom arises, even without a trigger.
Self-awareness can not only help you differentiate the abnormality of your responses to certain situations. It will also help you regularize those symptoms by keeping your thoughts in check. But this is easier said than done, and it takes practice to shift your attention away from what’s bothering you. Always remember to add self-compassion to your self-awareness. Be patient with yourself.
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health conditions. Anxiety can describe a feeling that almost everyone experiences at least once in their life. However, if it becomes overwhelming and unmanageable, it may develop into a serious mental disorder. In medical terms, anxiety disorder defines a group of mental health conditions.
If you’re someone experiencing mental health disorders, know that none of it defines you as a person. Even if your symptoms might debilitate you to do tasks that others have no problem doing, you still have areas of strength you should be proud of and celebrate. Awareness of your mental health issues is the first step to getting better. It’s important not to be too hard on yourself in your healing process. You should immediately seek help to address those issues.