Social Media and Anxiety

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Do you get anxious when you cannot check your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? Social media anxiety is a condition that is similar to social anxiety disorder and is estimated to affect up to 20% of social media users.   According to the experts, almost 20% of people with social media accounts cannot go more than three hours without checking them.  I used to have difficulty with constantly checking my social media but I have begun to spend less time online and I do feel my anxiety has lessened.

Comparing yourself to others on social media can often lead to anxiety.  This is referred  as the compare-and-despair factor.  Looking at pictures of people on fancy vacations and seeing posts where people seem to be happy and carefree all the time  may cause you to feel like your life is boring in comparison.  However remember what people post on social media is only a small part of their life, you don’t truly know  what’s going on from pictures and posts.

Comparing can also lead to anxiety when it relates to followers or friends. For example, some people are often trying to get the most followers or friends, remember that having lots of friends and followers doesn’t indicate your worth as a person.  I recently deleted over 200 people from Facebook.

Another social anxiety  sometimes triggered by social media is the fear of missing out, (FOMO).  This is “a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which you’re absent”. This is characterized by “a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing”.

While there is nothing wrong with using social media, it is important to not neglect other areas in your life to be on Facebook, Twitter, etc.  A good technique is to set a specific amount of time when you will be on, for example 30 minutes per day.  Also if you delete the apps from your phone, you will probably spend less time on social media sites.  Cutting down can be difficult at first but once you do, you may find your anxiety lessened and you will also spend more time with others outside of the internet.

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To Be a Black Woman with Anxiety

 

 

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Anxiety is one of the most common reasons for women to seek therapy.  For Black women, anxiety is  often more chronic and the symptoms more intense than white women.

To understand anxiety and Black women,  you need to understand how Black women are viewed.    There are three basic images which we see of Black women, the Strong Black Womanthe Angry Black Woman, and the Overly Sexual Black woman.. These images affect how other people see Black women and how we see ourselves. They also play a role in the development of anxiety.

Strong Black Women -There are some  positive aspects about being a Strong Black Woman, but there are  also many negatives.   A Strong Black Woman  will keep going even when she knows she should stop, this places her mental and physical health at risk.

An Angry Black Woman  is perceived as a woman who is always ready to  “cuss” you out. I have found that many women who are perceived this way are actually very anxious.  The anger is often an outward expression of their discomfort with the negativity associated with anxiety.

The Overly Sexual Black Woman  used to be referred to as a Jezebel, which comes from the Biblical Queen who  was said to have turned her husband against God.  Since slavery, Black women have been sexualized in derogatory ways  Today  this is often seen  in rap and hip-hop videos.

Social Anxiety 

In workplaces, college and professional  settings around the country, Black women often find themselves to be  the only one.   In these situations, we  have  often been taught that we have to be twice as good, that we are representing the race and that we are being watched more closely than our white counterparts.  These beliefs along with the Strong Black Woman image often increases the risk for social anxiety.

PTSD

The rate of sexual assault among Black women is  reported to be 3.5 times higher than that of any other group in this country. Black women are also less likely to report their assault. Many never share with anyone what has happened to them. The trauma  will remain untreated and the symptoms  will worsen.

Racism is another   form of trauma that  affects Black women.  Trauma in the form of racism can be directly or indirectly experienced. Driving while Black, shopping while Black, and racial micoraggressions are direct examples of racial trauma.  Indirect examples are videos of unarmed Black women and men being killed.

Thankfully, the stigma associated with seeking help for anxiety  and other mental health issues is disappearing.  Remember that with the help of a good therapist you can reclaim your life from anxiety.  I was able to reclaim my life and so can you.

 

Understanding Anxiety

Do you often worry about stuff or think something bad is going to happen?  I know these feelings because I have also had extreme anxiety.  Everyone worries about things sometimes but anxiety takes worrying to a much higher level.    This post will discuss the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder and what can help you to feel better.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) affects about 6.8 million American adults, including twice as many women as men.  It usually  develops gradually and can begin at any point in  life  but usually develops between childhood and middle age.  Other anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, depression, or substance abuse often accompany GAD.   It  is commonly treated with medication and/or  cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Symptoms
Generalized anxiety disorder  is characterized by six months or more of chronic, exaggerated worry and tension that is unfounded or  more severe than the normal anxiety most people experience. People with GAD usually:
Can’t control their excessive worrying
Have difficulty falling or staying asleep
Experience muscle tension
Expect the worst
Worry excessively about money, health, family or work, even when there are no signs of trouble
Are unable to relax
Are irritable
Are easily startled
Are easily fatigued
Have difficulty concentrating

Treatments
Generalized anxiety disorder usually responds well to medication and certain types of psychotherapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Mindfulness.  Sometimes medication won’t be needed and anxiety will respond well to psychotherapy.

Antidepressants
A number of medications that were originally approved for treating depression have been found to be effective for anxiety disorders. These must be taken for several weeks before symptoms start to fade, so it is important not to get discouraged and stop taking these medications. They need a chance to work.  This is especially helpful if you have depression and anxiety.   If you have any bothersome side effects, speak to your doctor and he or she will be able to determine if a change is needed in your medication. An adjustment in dosage or a switch to another medication  will usually correct side effects.

Anti-Anxiety Medications
Benzodiazepines relieve symptoms quickly  however they often increase drowsiness. Since many  people can develop a tolerance to them—and would have to continue increasing the dosage to get the same effect—benzodiazepines are generally prescribed for short periods of time. People who have had problems with drug or alcohol abuse are not usually good candidates for these medications because they have a greater likelihood of becoming   dependent.  Some people experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking benzodiazepines abruptly instead of tapering off, and anxiety can return once the medication is stopped. Potential problems with benzodiazepines have led some physicians to shy away from using them.  Buspirone (Buspar),  is an  antianxiety medication used to treat GAD.  Unlike benzodiazepines, buspirone must be taken consistently for at least two weeks to achieve an antianxiety effect.

Cognitive-Behavioral  Therapy
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is very useful in treating anxiety disorders. The cognitive part helps people change the thinking patterns that support their fears, and the behavioral part helps people change the way they react to anxiety-provoking situations.
For example, CBT can help people with panic disorder learn that their panic attacks are not really heart attacks and help people with social phobia learn how to overcome the belief that others are always watching and judging them.

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) combines cognitive behavioral techniques with mindfulness strategies such as meditation and  deep breathing exercises  in order to help you to better understand and manage your  thoughts and emotions in order to achieve relief from feelings of anxiety.

For many people, the best approach to treatment is medication combined with therapy. As stated earlier, it is important to give any treatment a fair trial.   Remember  if one approach doesn’t work, there are others that may be helpful for you.