The symptoms of anxiety are ones we are all familiar with. After all, anxiety is part of our emotional experience as human beings. It is only when the symptoms of anxiety become problematic or disruptive to day-to-day living that the person may seek the assistance of a health professional. However, research shows many people will delay taking this step for up to eighteen months following the first signs of a disorder. There are many reasons for this, but they often include the stigma associated with mental illnesses and disorders.
Many people have perceptions about the type of people who develop ‘mental problems’, take medication or see a psychiatrist. They resist placing themselves in this category out of fear, shame and embarrassment. People can also feel as if they’re going insane and fear a doctor will confirm this and have them institutionalised, so they just struggle on their own, hoping their symptoms will disappear and their life will miraculously return to normal.
Many people who have panic attacks also have an intolerance to medication. If they believe this will be the only treatment offered, they will also believe there’s no point to visiting their doctor. Most people who develop a disorder are also perfectionists, so there can also be a sense of failure about not being able to control what’s happening to them. They’re embarrassed about the tactics they’ve had to employ in order to limit the number of attacks. They’re ashamed about the affects their anxiety has had on their family and other relationships.
Anxiety disorders can be prevented provided the person has access to appropriate treatment in the early stages or in the case of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, shortly after the trauma occurred. It’s this delay in treatment, coupled with an absence of knowledge about anxiety which can lead to the development of an anxiety disorder.