Viral #AnxietyMakesMe Hashtag Highlights How Anxiety Manifests Differently for Everyone
Living with anxiety looks different for many people, with symptoms and triggers varying from one person to the next. And while such nuances aren't necessarily noticeable to the naked eye, a trending Twitter hashtag — #AnxietyMakesMe — is highlighting all of the ways that anxiety affects people's lives and just how many folks are dealing with such challenges. (Related: 8 Things You Absolutely Need to Know If Your Partner Has Anxiety, According to a Therapist)
The hashtag campaign seems to have started with a tweet from Twitter user @DoYouEvenLif. "I want to start a hashtag game tonight to help as many people as I can with anxiety," they wrote. "Please include the hashtag #AnxietyMakesMe before you respond. Lets get some of our blocks, fears, and worries out on here."
And others have been following suit, serving to emphasize the wide prevalence of anxiety and revealing the unique ways that it impacts people's lives.
Some folks have described how anxiety can keep them up at night.
And others have written about how anxiety makes them second guess the things they say and do. (Related: What Is High-Functioning Anxiety?)
Some of the tweets touch on anxiety around current events specifically, which isn't surprising given that data shows that anxiety has been on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic, and just seeing racial injustice on the news can impact your mental health. Many people are dealing with health anxiety around the virus, in particular, according to mental health experts. A casual term and not an official diagnosis, "health anxiety" refers to having negative, intrusive thoughts about your health. Think: worrying that minor symptoms or body sensations mean that you're suffering from a more serious illness, as licensed psychotherapist Alison Seponara, M.S., L.P.C. previously told Shape. (Here's a more in-depth look at the topic.)
As the surge in popularity of the hashtag suggests, anxiety is extremely common — in fact, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults each year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. While seemingly everyone deals with mild, passing feelings of nervousness or stress from time to time, those who have an anxiety disorder experience more frequent and forceful bouts of anxiety that are not easily shaken off and are sometimes accompanied by physical symptoms (i.e. chest soreness, headaches, nausea).
Those who are dealing with anxiety can find help through therapy, often cognitive behavioral therapy in particular, and/or through medication prescribed by a psychiatrist. Some people also incorporate yoga or other mindfulness practices to manage their symptoms. "Not only does practicing yoga give you a chance to quiet your mind and focus on yourself, but it's also been shown in studies to raise levels of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric (GABA); low levels of which have been linked to anxiety," Rachel Goldman, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist in New York City, previously told Shape.
If you've been dealing with anxiety, scrolling through the #AnxietyMakesMe posts might serve as a reminder that you're far from alone — and maybe even inspire you to contribute your own response.