For those living with anxiety disorders, one of the most frustrating, if not the most frustrating statement to hear is “you don’t, he/she doesn’t look anxious.”  Anyone living with anxiety or who has someone close to them dealing with anxiety wants to yell “WHAT DOES ANXIETY LOOK LIKE!?”

Anxiety has no special appearance.  Its appearance or how it manifests itself is as unique as we all are individual.  It affects people in a variety of different ways.  Sometimes, it is evident that a person is anxious, but most times it certainly is not.

Anxiety can and often manifest with visible symptoms.  Sweating, fast and heavy breathing, shaking, stomachaches, and headaches just to name a few.  Conversely, it often has no physical signs. Often people with anxiety are viewed as behavioral, oppositional, defiant, anti-social, and stand-offish, just to name a few.  These characterizations are the furthest thing from the truth.  People who are anxious are good at hiding it; they don’t want others to know their struggle.  They are working so hard to “hold it together,” in your presence that they often come across as something they are not.

The truth is that anxiety does not discriminate; it affects people of all ages, races, gender, religions, those with or without disabilities, and those in all social-economic classes.  Whether you are aware of it or not, you probably know someone who is living with anxiety or know someone who is.  You could also be working with someone daily who experiences anxiety, or maybe someone in their family does, etc.  

The many faces of anxiety often stay hidden out of fear of the stigma, being judged or misunderstood.  The sad truth is anxiety disorders are a very lonely disease due to those as mentioned above.  Additionally, the number of “faces” affected by it, is on the rise.  The state of affairs of our world (terrorism, and the increased demands on children and adults alike) have made the incidence of anxiety rise over the last three years, and it is expected to continue.

We need to work towards a world where no one has to hide for any reason.  As I have stated before, to support and accept someone does not mean you must understand what they are experiencing.  Let’s help those with anxiety disorders feel free to come out of hiding.  While they are in hiding, the world is missing out on their unique gifts and talents that would make the world a better place, even while living with their anxiety disorder.

Anxiety has NO PARTICULAR LOOK!  Its look is as unique and individualized as those living with it.