The Connection Between Anxiety and Chronic Disabilities

The Connection Between Anxiety and Chronic Disabilities

Individuals with neurological and physical disabilities may be more likely to develop anxiety-related mental health disorders. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Adults with disabilities report experiencing frequent mental distress almost 5 times as often as adults without disabilities.” Sometimes, the symptoms of mental health disorders and chronic disabilities overlap and cause severe distress. Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention can help individuals struggling with chronic disabilities and anxiety

Mental Health and Chronic Disabilities 

The symptoms, side effects, and social stigmas associated with neurological and physical disabilities can significantly impact mental health. In addition, a lack of coping skills, resources, and social support can reduce a person’s ability to cope with daily stressors, including:

  • Financial instability 
  • Workplace or academic pressure 
  • Relationship issues 
  • Co-occurring mental health disorders 
  • Ignorant, abusive, or ableist behavior

Early intervention is essential to reducing the damage of untreated anxiety-related disorders. However, many people with disabilities do not have access to the mental health resources they need to manage anxiety symptoms. 

Ableism and Anxiety Disorders

Stigmas, stereotypes, and misinformation about common disabilities can perpetuate ableism, discrimination, or prejudice against individuals with disabilities. The media often portrays ableism, and many people with disabilities experience it daily within their families or community. 

Most people do not know that their actions or words may discriminate against disabled people in their community. Socially accepted biases have contributed to ableist culture. Some examples of everyday ableism include: 

  • Asking someone with a visible disability what is “wrong” with them
  • Assuming that someone with an invisible disability like chronic pain is “lazy” or unmotivated
  • Making the assumption that someone young with no visible signs of physical distress must not have a disability
  • Creating an inspiration out of someone with a disability who has done nothing out of the ordinary

Being subjected to ableist behaviors regularly can cause some people to develop low self-esteem and anxiety. According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), “The symptoms [of anxiety] can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, schoolwork, and relationships.” If you constantly feel on edge or judged for something outside your control, it can lead to feelings of shame, guilt, anger, or depression. Being subjected to social stigmas and assumptions daily can cause people to withdraw socially and isolate themselves. 

What to Expect From Treatment

Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention can accommodate various disabilities to ensure clients have access to the treatments they need to overcome anxiety. We can help you connect with alternative therapies. Mediation, mindfulness-based techniques, and relaxation exercises can enhance the effectiveness of individual therapy and reduce symptoms of chronic pain or distress. 

During treatment, you can expect to do the following:

  • Discuss your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs 
  • Learn to identify anxiety triggers and establish coping skills 
  • Create a crisis management strategy
  • Expand your support system 

We consider any physical or psychological limitations that might affect a person’s ability to engage effectively in therapy and other forms of treatment. A chronic disability does not have to stop you from getting the help you need to heal and overcome general or social anxieties. 

Neurological Disabilities and Social Anxiety 

Many people with neurological disabilities have some form of social anxiety related to their condition. Experiencing fear, embarrassment, shame, or other negative emotions in a social setting can cause people to isolate themselves and avoid public situations. Some people avoid going to locations where they may interact with others unfamiliar with their condition. 

Social anxiety can also cause people with highly visible disabilities or chronic pain to avoid the following: 

  • Shopping 
  • Social events 
  • Visiting unfamiliar locations 
  • Trying new activities 
  • Traveling long distances 
  • Participating in activities with family or friends 
  • Joining social groups

In some cases, social anxiety can increase the severity of symptoms related to physical and neurological disorders. 

You Can Successfully Manage Anxiety 

Managing anxiety-related disorders and side effects can feel overwhelming at times. However, you are not alone and can successfully manage your anxiety using healthy coping skills. The care team at Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention can help you find ways to avoid triggers and prevent stress from interfering with your ability to function. Crisis intervention and professional mental health treatment can provide relief and give you the necessary resources to move forward. 

Mental health treatment ensures you have the tools you need to recover, including: 

  • Essential life skills and healthy coping mechanisms
  • Case management and aftercare planning 
  • Referrals to essential resources 

Participating in treatment can help you manage anxiety and lower overall stress levels. According to the CDC, “Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way will help you, the people you care about, and those around you become more resilient.” You can use the skills you learn in treatment to heal and build a healthy foundation for growth. 

Chronic disabilities significantly impact a person’s ability to cope with everyday stressors, including socially acceptable forms of ableism. In many cases, negative social interactions or internalized stigmas can lead to increased anxiety. Many people push themselves beyond their limits to meet societal or personal standards that do not take their disability into account. Anxiety is a common symptom of many chronic conditions, and you can manage it successfully. Therapy and prescription medication often reduce the risk of developing an anxiety-related mental health disorder. Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention can help individuals struggling with anxiety related to chronic disabilities. To learn more about our services, call us today at (866) 986-1481.