When Nervousness Goes Beyond Normal
My whole life I have been someone who worried about everything, but then when I was in high school, I was always so anxious that I couldn't sleep, eat or concentrate on anything except for my nerves. I brought this up to my doctor and was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Initially, I did not know that anxiety disorders were a real thing and that I wasn’t the only one who suffered from severe anxiety. But according to the National Institute for Mental Health (NAMI), anxiety affects around 20% of the population at any given time and is the most common mental health concern.
I have been a case manager intern at Daily Work since September and I have seen some job seekers who were nervous about parts of their job search, mainly the interview portion. This has made me wonder if these feelings are just normal jitters or is someone unknowingly suffering from an anxiety disorder? But before we get to any of that, what is anxiety?
According to NAMI, occasional anxiety is a normal part of life, but anxiety disorders are more than just worry or fear. For someone who is experiencing an anxiety disorder, the fear or worry does not go away, but can actually get worse. These symptoms can interfere with activities of everyday life. When someone is experiencing severe anxiety for at least six months, it is recommended that they seek treatment.
Treatment for anxiety disorders depends on the type of anxiety disorder. Someone can suffer from a panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, etc. Talking to your doctor is the recommended first step if you think you may be experiencing an anxiety disorder. They can help by possibly prescribing medication, recommending activities such as yoga, meditation, or physical activity, as well as referring you to a mental health professional for ongoing assistance.
The good news is that with proper treatment, living a normal life can be possible. I am living proof. After treatment and support from friends and family, I am about to graduate from college and right now I am successfully managing school, a full time job, and an internship. Plus, I still love doing things that other people do.
For people experiencing normal anxiety due to stressful situations, like job interviews...Daily Work can help! As social work interns we are trained to understand some of the burdens of stress and mental health concerns on a person's well-being. To help people alleviate normal, situational nerves related to things like job interviews we do things such as: role playing, mock interviews, and providing study materials. These tools help job seekers feel more prepared for interviews by giving them practice saying their answers and talking about themselves.
But some Daily Work job seekers experience more than “normal,” situational anxiety. This is especially apparent when a job seeker struggles on the job…or worse, loses their job due to problems related to anxiety.
“In the workplace, these symptoms could translate into difficulty working with colleagues and clients, trouble concentrating, preoccupation over the fear instead of focusing on work, and turning down assignments because of fear of failure…,” says the WebMD website.
While Daily Work case managers cannot give counseling for mental health concerns, we can refer job seekers to someone who does. It is very important that individuals receive professional assistance in managing their anxiety if it affects their life.
Now what can you do? If you are experiencing anxiety that is affecting your everyday activities, you should bring it up to your doctor or a mental health practitioner. If you know someone who you think might be experiencing an anxiety disorder or any other type of mental health concern, you can recommend that they seek help.
You can also speak up about anxiety disorders, especially at work. Let your colleagues know that it is a real problem that can be treated and managed, and that a co-worker who is turning down assignments or is not getting along well with others, may be struggling with a mental health challenge. With compassion and awareness, we all can help people with anxiety disorders lead full and productive lives, both at home and in the workforce.
To read more about anxiety and its' impact on people in the workplace, read here: http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/anxiety-at-work