As a part of our October issue's mental health feature, we briefly delved into a few mental health disorders that has been plaguing Malaysians but often is dismissed. In the first part of the feature, we took a general view over mental health as a whole and why it usually goes undiagnosed by many. For this part, we look at anxiety and its effects.
Generalised anxiety disorder is probably the most undetected entity in mental healthcare primarily because it does not severely incapacitate a person. While it may not appear to physically incapacitate someone like other disorders, it damages their productivity and interpersonal relationships. Such disorders usually lead to more serious ailments such as phobias, social disorder, panic disorder and obsessive compulsive behaviour.
According to the deputy president of the Malaysian Mental Health Association (MMHA) Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj wen people don’t know what they are going through and there is an additional feeling of shame to tell people about you having a problem, it usually remains undetected and that often leads to multiple problems.
"For example, someone suffering from anxiety may want to calm themselves down by taking some sleeping pills or other medication, alcohol or drugs and that slowly become a separate issue of addiction and now you’re dealing with two problems: anxiety and addiction.,” surmises Dr Andrew.
In terms of disrupting interpersonal relationships, the sufferer’s irritability can cause a breakdown of relationships with others or the anxiety might become so crippling to the point that he does not want to mingle with anybody, and becoming introverted and seen as a loner or an antisocial person. And because these people suffer in silence, it can become very severe and thus lead to clinical depression. The issue is that people with anxiety don’t go and seek help.
“At most they will go see a doctor at the clinic and say they feel very kancheong and be given some benzodiazepine and sent off. It very easily passed off.,” says Dr Andrew.
There are a number of proper treatment for anxiety disorders such as psychotherapy which includes cognitive behavioural therapy that help change people’s thinking patterns to support their fears and change the way they react to anxiety provoking situations. Apart from that, medication which helps manage anxiety along with complementary health approaches such as stress and relaxation techniques are usually the way to go around.
If you ever need help or someone to talk to, here are some people that would be happy to listen:
(Befrienders 03-79568144 / 03-79568145, Lifeline Association of Malaysia 03-42657995, Malaysian Mental Health Association 03-77825499, National Urgent Response 03-22662222)
First published in Esquire Malaysia, October 2016.