Movember isn’t just about raising cancer awareness, an increasing focus is around mental health.
With one in five of us suffering from anxiety, or depression, or both, it’s time to give our minds some TLC.
We spoke to mental health charity Mind about symptoms, causes and treatment.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is something we all experience from time to time. Short-term anxiety can be useful, by making you feel more alert, and enhancing your performance. However, if anxiety levels stay high for a long time, it can be difficult to deal with everyday life.
There are several types of anxiety and panic disorders, because people respond to anxiety and panic attacks in different ways. Some of the more common disorders include phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder.
What are the signs of anxiety?
You may feel powerless, out of control, as if you are about to die or go mad. Sometimes, if the feelings of fear overwhelm you, you may experience a panic attack – an exaggeration of the body’s normal response to fear, stress or excitement. It is the rapid build-up of overwhelming sensations, such as a pounding heartbeat, feeling faint, sweating, nausea, chest pains, breathing discomfort, feelings of losing control, shaky limbs and legs turning to jelly.
How is anxiety different for men and women?
As with depression [see part one of our Movember health series] there is not much difference in symptoms experienced by men and women.
Men may react differently by self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, and are less likely to seek help – only 3% of men would discuss worries with their relatives, compared to 54% of women.
What are effective treatments for anxiety?
- Regular exercise (at least 20 minutes a day) can be very effective in lifting mood, increasing energy levels, and improving appetite and sleep. Stimulating endorphins and engaging in group activity is a effective treatment.
- Group therapy allows people to work together on their problems, with a therapist. Talking to others and getting their insight can help you understand yourself better; you may also learn about relationships with others.
- Befriending, peer support and volunteering schemes can also be effective, as can Arts therapies such as art, music and drama therapy, particularly for men who find it difficult to talk about how they’re feeling.
- Practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine may offer treatments such as acupuncture, massage, homeopathy and herbal medicine that many people with depression have found helpful.
For more information about depression, as well as support and advice, visit Mind’s website.