Do you feel anxious for no reason? Are you endlessly worrying unnecessarily about your health, finance or life? Are you having panic attacks? Are you constantly on edge and anxious to the extent you can’t even concentrate sometimes? Do you find it difficult sleeping every night? Do you dream so much that you wake up exhausted? Are you constantly judging and micro monitoring yourself? Do you feel lightheaded when you stand up? Are you so tormented by the feeling of anxiety that you think you may be losing your ever loving mind? If you have answered yes to any 3 questions above, chances are you are suffering from one of the many forms of a condition called ANXIETY.
I have chosen to write about anxiety and depression as both are something that has affected me in life, the effects of these two mostly mental conditions prompted me to look around my society and wonder, was I the only one to be affected by this? Am I a special case? my studies have allowed me to understand that depression and anxiety are so prevalent in and around Accra that, I dare propose that 7 in 10 men in Accra suffer from these conditions and it is worsened because most people won’t dare talk about it.
They wont want to talk about it for fear of people’s reaction to their condition or simply for fear that they may be losing their minds so they keep it to themselves. In Accra Ghana there is a stigma on mental conditions or disorder of any kind, so most men in Accra (Both Ghanaian and foreigners in the country) find themselves dependent on alcohol or other forms of self medication just to have a good night sleep or even maintain normal routine.
Why have I chosen Accra as an area for this case study, I live and work in Accra, so naturally this will be a good and easy place in which to carry out research. I dont want to talk about Kumasi or Takoradi because I do not live there, I have spent a lot of time in and around Accra, I have spoke to so many people about this topic, so everything I say here is in most cases word for word the experiences and feelings of too many men within Accra.
For most people the feelings of anxiety especially gets so intense that they even end up going to hospitals, only for the doctor to inform them there is nothing wrong with them.
In many cases these Doctors misdiagnose the patient not because they ran tests on the individual but because the person complains of sensations, without test or ignoring their test which shows clearly that nothing is wrong with the patient, they will place the patient on drugs. Many times they will place these patients on high blood pressure drugs which creates new problems for the patient or worsens the case.
WHAT IS ANXIETY?
According to WEBMD.com the most common form of anxiety is the Generalized anxiety disorder (or GAD) which is characterized by excessive, exaggerated anxiety and worry about everyday life events with no obvious reasons for worry. People with symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder tend to always expect disaster and can’t stop worrying about health, money, family, work, or school. In people with GAD, the worry is often unrealistic or out of proportion for the situation. Daily life becomes a constant state of worry, fear, and dread.
These generalize anxiety then produces symptoms for the individual that is called panic attacks, these panic attacks can be expressed in a verity of ways; The person can find themselves with racing heartbeats for no apparent reason, they can find themselves sweating in a heightened sense of anxiousness for no apparent reason, they may develop a fear of crowded places, They may develop a hyper dream situation were they dream so much night that it leaves them fatigued in the morning, they may also develop insomnia(sleeping disorder), many advanced anxiety sufferers tend to feel fatigued throughout the day, have a feeling that they may pass out at random times or they may develop a belief that they are losing their minds from the enter affair. Basically the feeling of panic attacks brought on my general anxiety disorder is one where the suffer feels a continued sense of anxiousness and this is a most uncomfortable state of mind to live in, it is paramount to a hellish existence.
In most cases anxiety sufferers find themselves falling naturally into depression.
WHAT IS DEPRESSION?
Depression is a common illness worldwide, with more than 264 million people affected(1). Depression is different from usual mood fluctuations and short-lived emotional responses to challenges in everyday life. Especially when long-lasting and with moderate or severe intensity, depression may become a serious health condition. It can cause the affected person to suffer greatly and function poorly at work, at school and in the family. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide.
The most damaging part of this anxiety problem in Accra is that most men are not even aware that they are suffering from it, so many of them tend to use alcohol as a way to remedy the sensations in the short-term.
According to Healthline Media on http://www.healthline.com, Alcohol is a sedative and a depressant that affects the central nervous system. The first few years or months of using alcohol to manage your anxiety, you will find that drinking alcohol can reduce fears and take your mind off of your troubles. But once drinking is continuous like it usually is, you can build a tolerance to the de-stressing effects of alcohol, and this can make anxiety and stress even more difficult to cope with.
I believe that this is the real reason for the high patronage of bars, hence its high availability all over Accra. You just have to look around you and you will be awestruck once you fully grasp how frequent you will come across a bar all over Accra. Even more surprising is that no matter how small, rundown, big or expensive a drinking spot appears to be, from Sunday to Sunday there will always be men and women drinking from Sunday to Sunday.
This is not to say that a culture of drinking alcohol is innately bad but after talking to a few people, it has come to my knowledge that most men in Accra today are drinking as a way to cope with the anxiety of living and working in the system, as most men in Accra go to bed and wake up unsure of where the next meal will come from.
Office workers in Accra account for about 30% of the workforce in Accra, the rest are small to medium scale business owners and business men engaged in many different businesses to make honest living. 90% of men in Accra including the office worker go through unbelievable stress that in most cases will cause anxiety and depression, as the system is one that we find constant inflation but the salaries and earnings seem to remain the same or in some cases even reduce.
Most men in Accra even those with wife and children go to bed and wake up with no idea where their next meal will come from, no retirement funds, no social structure that guarantees the children’s education, everything is depended on what the man of the house can bring home. It is sadly expected that this level of stress naturally will be attracted to men in a system like this.
Now we must understand that Ghana in particular is a system that does not really care about the well being of the individual human being, I mean this in the sense that we have no provision for human stress relief, no parks, no programs created with the sole intent of reducing stress or mental trauma in the system, this is the same issue in Ghana’s immediate Brother nation; Nigeria. All we have are the drinking bars and clubbing joints, it is only natural that most men within Accra will turn to alcohol as the major form of stress relief.
Most sickness that men suffer from within Accra can be attributed to an extra-ordinary consumption of alcohol and high stress, these two issues I feel are expressing a prior condition in men that the medical system in Accra have largely ignored. Anxiety can lead to excessive drinking, Anxiety is also a signal that your stress factor is out of control, I feel that if the medical system can start to treat anxiety as a serious issue and look for proper remedies for it, many men and women will be saved from more critical conditions that can come from drinking, high blood pressure brought on through stress of anxiety and also depression which can lead to suicide. I hope this article can open the eyes of all the readers so we can begin talking about this issue, and subsequently pressure our government into doing the needful to help the overwhelming amount of people in society suffering from anxiety.
14 TIPS TO HELP YOU CONTROL YOUR ANXIETY
- Take a time-out. Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques. Stepping back from the problem of life helps clear your head.
- Eat well-balanced meals. Do not skip any meals. Do keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
- Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
- Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health. Check out the fitness tips below.
- Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly.
- Count to 10 slowly. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary.
- Do your best. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn’t possible, be proud of however close you get.
- Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective: Is it really as bad as you think?
- Welcome humor. A good laugh goes a long way.
- Maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
- Get involved. Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community, which creates a support network and gives you a break from everyday stress.
- Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern.
- Talk to someone. Tell friends and family you’re feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you. Talk to a physician or therapist for professional help.
Are you suffering from anxiety? How do you handle the condition? Please share with us below.