If you have an anxiety disorder, you might be wondering if, and when, this will all go away. When will you be finally cured? When will those voices in your head, those all-consuming thoughts and worries, finally give you peace once and for all?
First, the bad news. Anxiety doesn’t really vanish forever. It’s just like any other feeling you have—sadness, happiness, frustration, anger, love, and so on. Just like you can’t ever eliminate those emotions from your brain, you can’t rid anxiety from your brain once and for all.
However, there are a few pieces of good news, too.
First, anxiety comes and goes. There may be times in your life when you are so consumed by your anxiety disorder that you cannot think of getting out of your bed in the morning. Other times, you’ll be out having fun with friends and you’ll think “What disorder?” Your anxiety can also reflect the ups-and-downs of your life stages. Whereas you might have waves of surging anxiety in high school, your college years might be infinitely better. Or vice versa.
You Can Manage Your Anxiety Disorder
Second thing: you can manage your anxiety effectively so that you aren’t bothered by it as often. Imagine your anxiety as a person living upstairs in your brain with a loud bullhorn. He (or she) is constantly shouting in your ear with a never-ending prattle of your most anxious thoughts and worries. Ignoring your anxiety doesn’t make it go away; the relentless thoughts just continue.
So what do you do? You have several options to manage your anxiety. Some treatment options include mindfulness exercises, therapy (like dialectical behavior therapy or cognitive behavior therapy), medication (like SSRIs, SNRIs, or benzodiazepines), or an adolescent mental health treatment center that specializes in anxiety disorders.
After treating your anxiety, imagine the person in your head gradually shrinking down to a tiny little speck on the horizon. Now, they aren’t yelling anymore. They’ve been reduced to a whisper, which does come in handy every once in a while (like when you haven’t yet started studying for an important exam and it’s almost 10 pm the night before!) In this way, your anxiety is being effectively managed.
Anxiety is Not Always Bad
On that note, keep in mind that anxiety, as an emotion, is not inherently bad. It’s only debilitating in the wrong amounts. Having the appropriate level of anxiety in our brain – not too much, but just enough — can actually motivate us. Like the example given above, anxiety is a contributing factor in motivating us to study for tests, determine how to act among others, maintain our physical health, achieve our aspirational goals, and so on. It’s only when our levels of anxiety get out of balance that it becomes unhealthy and dysfunctional. That’s when we need to seek treatment.