Anxiety is something everyone’s experienced. Some excessively. Some less. It is an unpleasant feeling in your body that makes you panicky, nervous or pace around. It's the buzzing of a million thoughts in your head that start with the words ‘what if’. Everyone experiences anxiety some time or the other in their lives. It is a very normal feeling, just like sadness, happiness, anger or fear. However, if you experience anxiety all the time or at times when you don’t really need to be anxious (i.e. before an exam, before a big presentation or performance etc) then you may have an anxiety disorder.
Women are also under a lot more stress now than they were before. The modern Indian woman is independent but that comes with a price. The price of being anxious about too many things at once.
Anxiety disorders have become a common illness. One in every four Indians has an anxiety disorder and this is even higher in women. Anxiety affects women more because of our inherent need to worry constantly. Women are also under a lot more stress now than they were before. We have to think about our work, our successes and failures, about our families, husbands, kids and so much more. The modern Indian woman is independent but that comes with a price. The price of being anxious about too many things at once. According to Women's Health Section, “the possible risk factors for higher prevalence of depression and anxiety in women in India include age, socio-economic status, education, marriage and widowhood and family support”
Hormonal imbalances also contribute to anxiety in women. With the rise of GMO foods, preservatives and artificial flavours and colors, women are now suffering from more menstrual problems than they ever did in the past. These problems cause hormonal imbalances or deficiencies that lead to a higher risk of anxiety disorders.
Some women may not even realise that they have an anxiety disorder. They may not know how to put a description to the feeling. Dr. Pallavi Tomar, a psychologist based in Bangalore puts it very simply, “Is the experience of anxiety exaggerated and far too intense than what may be warranted in a situation? Do you find it difficult to contain and manage the anxiety? Are the signs of anxiety experienced too frequently? Is the experience of anxiety impacting your personal, professional or social life?” If the answer to these questions is yes, then you may have an anxiety disorder.
“I remember noticing it when I was studying about anxiety in college. How my palms always got sweaty, I had a sinking feeling, my chest would get heavy and I couldn’t breathe. My mind used to race through the worst possible outcomes of a situation”
Mihika, a design professional in Bangalore found out about anxiety when she first had a panic attack in college. She said, “My heart was pounding so hard, I thought it would fall out. I felt like I would fall down and faint”. These are some of the characteristics of anxiety - palpitations, cold sweating, tremors, hyperventilating, nausea. Raeesa Bukhary, a Product Manager from Hyderabad recalls, “I remember noticing it when I was studying about anxiety in college. How my palms always got sweaty, I had a sinking feeling, my chest would get heavy and I couldn’t breathe. My mind used to race through the worst possible outcomes of a situation”
These are symptoms that many women suffer from but don’t get help because of social stigma or because they don’t know what to do in a situation like this. This is why discussing mental health in India has become a necessity. There are a lot of different ways to combat anxiety - these include exercise, talking to a psychologist, taking medicines (prescribed by a licensed psychiatrist), behavioural therapy, meditation and more. Information about anxiety disorders are available online, and nowadays you even have online therapists available who can help you out. There are so many ways to combat this disorder that no one should suffer in vain.
If you know anyone who needs help, you can start by sharing information and options available to them to seek help. Anxiety should not go unchecked, as it can lead to other mental health problems later in life. It is a disorder that anyone can conquer with the right tools and therefore should be brought into the limelight and talked about.