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Recent years have seen a growing public awareness of the nature and scale of anxiety disorders as they affect majority of people. Many questions arose around treating this issue because anxiety disorders were not considered as serious mental illnesses until the end of XX century, when small group of scientist and doctors founded Phobia Society of America, which then made an immense impact in terms of diagnostic practice and future treatment means. It was the first step in investigation of this disorder. Nowadays, it is found that anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental illnesses. Duckworth and Freedman states that anxiety disorders affect around 20 percent of the population of America at any given time (2012).
In fact, anxiety disorders are a group of mental illnesses that cause people to feel immensely fearful, distressed, or embarrassed during their everyday life. It is different from what normal anxiety. Most people feel anxious from time to time. In situations which can significantly affect one’s life, it is understandable to feel worried, tense, nervous or possible fearful. On the other hand, people suffering from anxiety disorders demonstrate excessive anxiety or worry for months and face several anxiety-related symptoms. According to National Institute of Mental Health (2016), most common symptoms are: restlessness or feeling wound-up or on edge, being easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, irritability, difficulty controlling the worry, sleep problems. Apart from the psychological effect, anxiety disorders may influence physical health. For instance, Marsh (2015, p. 6) states that people experiencing continuous anxiety suffer from nausea, tense muscles and headache, pins and needles, a faster, thumping or irregular heartbeat, raised blood pressure and etc.
If they are not treated, anxiety disorders can be very harmful as they can negatively affect family relationships or ability to behave as a regular person. The long term effects of this type of mental disorder may interrupt a person’s normal life making it extremely difficult to maintain relationships with other people. For example, anxiety might affect a person’s romantic relationships. Przeworski stated, “Relationships act as a mirror — reflecting our insecurities, mistakes, and unpleasant habits. There is nothing more anxiety provoking than looking into a mirror and seeing yourself — not the you that is primped and pressed, but the naked you” (as cited in Glenmore, 2013, para. 3). In fact, anxiety in the scope of close relationships commonly result in jealousy, suspicion and insecurity. A person afflicted by anxiety may start fear of being abandoned, worry that his or her partner is cheating, or fret over the possibility of a breakup, even if a partner has not shown any reason to think this way. Maintaining such relationships could be overwhelming due to the reason that even little harmless thoughts could turn in a massive conflict as a person suffering from such disorder could exaggerate his misinterpreted understanding of the situation. Anxious people have a tendency to require a lot of consolation, consequently, depleting a partner and adding extra stress to the situation. This could insert an instability into relationships, enhancing the probability that one of the partner’s finally will surrender and stop conversing.
Moreover, there is a huge problem of anxious people called “pushing and pulling” behavior. Continuous thinking about the details of the relations and paranoid thoughts tend to make a person to flip between reckless necessity and keen rejection. For such people it is difficult to understand whether being in relationships is a source of happiness or humiliation. At some time instant, they claim to love a partner forever, but then, a stressful mind could come to the wrong conclusions about his or her partner based on anxious thoughts, and start a conflict. This leads them to sustain a cycle of pulling their partners in close and afterward pushing them away. One of the most dramatic example of a such behavior could be Franz Kafka. During five years Kafka was alternately wooing his lover and attempting to discharge her from his life. Using all the formidable logic and literary skills he possessed to convince her that he was a “sick, weak, unsociable, taciturn, gloomy, stiff, almost helpless man” with whom life would be an utter disaster (Smith, 2012). Consequently, such behavior could break relationships between two people.
In addition to that, Smith (2012) also explained, “If I did nothing to lessen my anxiety, I realized, I would never become any of the things I wanted to become: a good husband, a good father, a good brother, a good friend. How could I become these things when, in my towering distress, I could pay heed to no one’s existence or needs but my own?” (para.8). This shows that self-obsession of people with anxiety disorder may also negatively affect their relations with close people. An anxious person could not pay enough attention to important people. Evidently, when one of the partners could not support another, it contributes to the number and severity of the conflicts.
Conflict is normal part of almost any relationships, however, it can raise more rapidly and more serious issues when one of the partners is afflicted by anxiety. As an example, a study by the Anxiety Disorders Association of America (as cited in Glenmore, 2013, para. 8), demonstrated that couples with one of the partners having generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) are twice likely to have one or more major relationship problems, three time as likely to have issues with intimacy and half as likely to report being supportive. This reveals that anxiety disorders may cause severe problems in relationships.
Furthermore, this study also has demonstrated that participants with GAD who were in relations have problems in doing normal, trivial activities such as going outside and socializing. Therefore, maintaining such non-social behavior might fundamentally strain a relationship when the anxiety sufferer doesn’t want to attend social events, family obligations, or even go out in public. doesn’t want to participate in social events, family commitments, or even appear in public. Even more, anxiety causes its victims to be afraid to talk to somebody or to create new friendship. This could lead to total isolation of a person with such mental illness from society.
Heitler (2012) states that anxious partners have a tendency to avoid discussing major issues with their significant others because they fret how any type of confrontation could negatively affect the relationship. This could be a wrong strategy as anxiety arises because there is a problem ahead. Anxious tensions therefore are strengthened if partners do not make effort to discuss and resolve the problem. A study of Anxiety Disorders Association of America also supports Heitler’s statement and reveals that seven out of 10 GAD respondents indicate that the disorder has a negative effect on their relationship with their spouse/significant other, noting problems with communication.
Indeed, anxiety disorders affect not only relationships in couples, but also influence any relations. Regardless of who in fact suffers from anxiety disorder, it is a state that has an impact on the lifestyle of every member of family or relatives – whether husband, wife, mother, father, sister, brother or friend. According to Lifeline Anxiety disorder Newsletter, the resulting family dysfunction caused by anxiety disorders frequently brings about the issue turning out to be further sophisticated by the mental and physical responses of friends and relatives – “the husband who drifts in and out of affairs because his social phobic wife is unable to participate in the social areas of his business life, the teenager who rebels against the restrictive family life imposed by his father’s fear of having a panic attack, and ends up involved in drugs and petty crime, the mother who finally suffers a mental breakdown, after years of coping with the manipulations of her anxiety-disordered child” (2007, para. 3). There are many consequences on relatives of anxious people. They might get into deep depression, start alcohol and drug abuse. The consequences of such behavior could be devastating,
The most severe long-term impacts of anxiety is that a person suffering from it might become. suicidal. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, approximately 18 percent of people suffering from anxiety disorders may try suicide, and nearly 39 percent of people with anxiety disorders often experience suicidal thoughts (as cited in Adams, n.d).
To summarize, during the investigation it is found that anxiety disorders have a negative impact on a person and his or her family and friends. Mostly it affects romantic relationships between a couple. A person afflicted by anxiety could demonstrate jealousy, suspicion and insecurity, self-obsession, “pushing and pulling” behavior, suicidal behavior and problems with socialization. Evidently, this affects surrounding people, resulting in a beak up or alcohol and drug abuse of a partner. Personally, I believe that people should pay more attention to this problem. Partners of people with such mental illness should demonstrate enormous patience and society should support such people. Otherwise, Consequences could be devastating.
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