In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month I’ll be devoting the remaining Wednesday’s of this month to the shedding light on four distinct disorders with Anxiety being this week’s focus. Anxiety is defined as: 1. a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome; 2. (Psych) a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior or panic attacks. ALL of us get nervous or anxious occasionally but for some the intensity & frequency begin to control our lives. Anxiety disorders include Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Phobias, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, & Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older, or 18% of the population. They are characterized by persistent, excessive worry about several different things. It is is diagnosed when a person finds it difficult to control worry on more days than not for at least six months & has three or more symptoms. General symptoms include: restlessness/on edge, easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating/ mind going blank, irritability, muscle tension, sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep, unsatisfying sleep). Regardless of the specific type, women are twice as likely to be affected. Also, people with anxiety are three to five times more likely to see a doctor & six times more likely to be hospitalized for psych disorders. However, cognitive-behavioral therapy is effective for many, helping them to identify, understand, & modify faulty thinking & behavior patterns. Some people find medication is also helpful; the FDA has approved several antidepressants for treatment of anxiety disorders.
If you suffer from Anxiety disorders or even if you’re currently experiencing some level of anxiety about the current economy, your career, your health, your family, or your future I want you to know, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Furthermore, if you are a follower of Christ I want to tell you, you are not a subpar Christian! Western culture is one of individuality which often acts as the perfect environment for feelings of isolation to take root in our minds. This creates our own little mental prison where worry, hopelessness, fear, dread, and often depression are our cell mates. I encourage you today to reject Satan’s lies & courageously speak up. It robs the enemy of his power perceived “leverage” over you. Reject the stigma that you are crazy, that you aren’t a “real Christian”, or that you must lack faith.
The bible is full of God fearing people who’ve also battled anxiety. King David himself experienced this mental prison & in Psalm 94:18-19 he prays “When I said, ‘My foot is slipping, your love, O LORD, supported me. When my anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul”. God’s beloved King faced the same battle you’re currently facing. It’s clear by reading the Psalms that David’s anxiety wasn’t ocassional; it was always there, increasing & decreasing with the seasons of his life. Nevertheless, through David’s example, we see a divine strategy – David turned his worries into prayer points! Whatever troubles us, whatever keeps us awake at night, whatever makes us literally sick with worry is exactly what we take to God in prayer. You see the root of anxiety is an orphan spirit. The belief that we are all alone in this life without guidance & protection from our Father. However, Jesus died on the cross specifically to restore man’s estrasnged relationship with God the Father. As a result, you & I don’t have to feel alone, rejected, afraid, or anxious.
Trust God with your life! In fact Phillippians 4:6-7 tells us “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Don’t suffer in silence! Talk to a licensed professional counselor who can help you employ CBT tactics to identify specific cognitive defects. A holistic approach to healing must also include a diet rich in God’s love and the promises of His word. Talk to your Pastor & urround yourself with Godly people who will intercede with you without judgement. In some cases medication may be necessary but know that God is able to completely heal ALL sickness, even mental disorders. I beleive that this month can be the start of better days for you, XO – Kira