The is a question that has been debated for years, is anxiety a disability? I am including depression and panic disorder when I talk about anxiety in this article.
I should make it clear here that I have suffered personally from anxiety and depression for a number of years and still do suffer symptoms every day. Yes, depression has symptoms and it goes further than feeling just a bit sad. I struggle every day to drag myself out of bed and go to work, my energy levels are almost at zero (even after a good nights sleep). I have a hard time concentrating which affects my work as well as the tiredness. There are also physical symptoms too, chronic headaches, aches and pains in muscles including chest pains and back pains.
When someone says to me, “cheer up mate”, I get the sudden urge to punch them in the face many times. If I could cheer up, I would. It simply is not that easy.
It was my Psychiatrist who asked me the question; Do you feel like your anxiety is a disability? I sat back in my chair and thought about it for a good few minutes. My answer was that it was disabling but not a disability. When she asked me to clarify what I meant, I struggled to do so. My explanation was that I didn’t have a physical disability, but the anxiety was disabling me from living a normal life. That’s how I look at it still now.
The anxiety has crippled my social life, it prevents me from doing the things I would normally do, not because I am psychically unable to, but mentally unable to.
Depression and anxiety are subjects that are very difficult to understand if you have not experienced them yourself. Before I started to experience anxiety, I would have never been able to grasp what I really meant and I would probably be one of the guys saying “cheer up mate”.
From speaking to different people, it is clear that everyone has a very different view on this. There are people who feel that the label “disabled” should be reserved for those with a physical impairment and there are those who feel like depression is a serious condition (usually those who have suffered it themselves). Let me know in the comments below how you feel.
If I could give advice to anyone suffering from any kind of mental illness is to seek help. I suffered for a long time without speaking to anyone about it. One thing you can be sure about with depression and anxiety is that it wont go away on it’s own. Whether it is using talking therapy methods such as CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) or medication, there are several methods of treating depression.
Now, back to the topic at hand. Do I think anxiety is a disability? My answer would be yes, because it is a disabling condition. Whilst it is true that disabilities are usually chronic conditions that cannot be recovered from, anxiety and depression can be. That is the only difference, depression and anxiety are usually temporary conditions but disabling non-the-less.