Many people with bipolar find they also suffer with anxiety. Anxiety may be a feature prior to the onset of bipolar symptoms or it may be a feature of a bipolar episode. It’s important to raise the issue of anxiety with your doctor and not assume that it comes as part of bipolar and therefore cannot be treated in its own right. For some people anxiety increases the risk of recurrence of bipolar episodes. Mild symptoms of anxiety are relatively easy to manage but some people find their anxiety is crippling. Either way, an understanding of the various conditions associated with anxiety may help you identify your symptoms and seek help.
A world without anxiety may sound ideal but it’s unrealistic and unhelpful. Anxiety is the term we use to describe the sense of discomfort we feel when things threaten us. This innate sensation is actually designed to protect us. As part of our fight-or-flight mechanism, anxiety is the manifestation of arousal that gears us up to escape or avoid situations that may do us harm. Of course most threatening situations are to our self-esteem and confidence and it’s not always easy to avoid or escape them. Anxiety can become distressing and disruptive in various ways. Some people with bipolar have anxiety issues when they are well. For others anxiety may feature highly during a bipolar episode.
The symptoms of anxiety affect people in terms of their behavior, their emotions and their physical state. A whole range of symptoms are associated with anxiety and these include:
- Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
- Hot and cold flushes.
- Pounding heart and palpitations.
- Shortness of breath and choking sensations.
- Aches and pains.
- Fear of losing control.
- Sense of dread.
- Excessive worry.
Not everyone will experience the same sensations and the intensity of sensation may vary from person to person or even from day to day. Anxiety disorders come in the form of phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. You can find out more about these conditions and their management by visiting anxietyconnection.com, which is part of the Healthcentral network of health sites.
An important thing to know about anxiety is that it can be treated. Treatment may involve a combination of medication and psychological intervention, but there are various approaches that suit some people more than others.
Are you troubled by anxiety? How does it manifest itself? How do you cope? Have you managed to get on top of your anxiety - if so, how?
Jerry Kennard, Ph.D., is a chartered psychologist and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society. Jerry’s clinical background is in mental health and, most recently, higher education. He is the author of various self-help books and is co-founder of positivityguides.net.