Anxiety or anxiety disorder stems from a very bad experience that causes a person to fear a recurrence of the same situation, whether it seems rational to other people or not. It is not a mental disorder, but rather a sign that the mind and memory are functioning correctly. Anxiety stems from not being able to forget a horrific experience of some kind.
A lot of attention has been given to veterans of foreign wars who suffer from anxiety because of things they witnessed, were subjected to or forced to participate in abroad. Even after they return to their normal lives, they cannot forget. Anxiety can cause them to have problems socially and financially. Their relationships and their work suffers.
But, violent crime survivors are another large group of people who suffer from anxiety and related issues. Not only is there an unforgettable memory, but there is the knowledge that the worst things you can imagine don’t just happen to people on the news – the can happen to you. And, it can happen right when you least expect it. So, there is never a sense of safety – even under the best of circumstances.
This state of constant vigilance can cause terrible anxiety. The anxiety is complicated by the fact that no one around you seems to understand because their sense of reasonable safety has not been violated – repeatedly – as is often the case with anxiety sufferers.
People who have been victims of multiple violent crimes are more likely to suffer from anxiety disorder than someone who has only been victimized once. Anxiety rises as the sufferer begins to feel that there is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. There is no way that the person or anyone around them can “reason” them out of it because it is based on their own personal experience, the memories of which cannot be erased.
People who have been in car accidents or other mishaps can also suffer from anxiety. Fears can compound and become phobias, which create terrible anxiety. Many times phobias are not understood except by the people who experience them.
Anxiety or anxiety disorder is not a mental illness or a sign of mental weakness. On the contrary, it is frequently the sign of a person with a healthy mind who has to live in a sick and violent world in full awareness while those around them, very often, seem oblivious.
Anxiety disorder is not just in the mind of the person. It is not all in their heads. It can have dire physical consequences, as well. It can cause a range of symptoms including, but not limited to vertigo, nausea, vomiting and cardiovascular disease.
If you know someone who is suffering from anxiety, try to be supportive. Getting angry with that person is only going to make things worse and push them away. One of the biggest fears anxiety sufferers have is of being re-victimized. And they will feel this whenever they are faced with people who refuse to support them in, at least, the most basic ways.