This is a huge number - which I have no doubt will have grown dramatically since then, however we should also keep in mind that these 8.2 million cases are only those that have been discussed and diagnosed as this. In reality the figure is probably much higher.
One could almost say we are suffering an anxiety epidemic.
There are over 100 symptoms of anxiety and some of them are seriously life altering for the worse including dizziness, chest pain, headache, stomach problems, nausea, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, feeling crazy, sleep problems, weakness in legs, muscle pain, body jolts, skin problems, chills/flashes, depression, confusion, and a cloudy mind.
And yet - in my opinion - anxiety isn’t easily diagnosed and patients go through years of tests and pills which never actually relieve the problems.
If we think about it - anxiety and dementia are similar. One medical umbrella term which can give hundreds of seemingly unrelated symptoms which alone might be minor but collectively can overwhelm and make it very difficult to live a fulfilling life.
When someone lives with a long term illness it’s easy to just put every feeling, pain or niggle down to that illness where in reality a lot of them are probably completely unrelated and go untreated making the individual feeling worse than ever.
Could we relieve many dementia symptoms through anxiety treatment? It makes sense that having dementia would make you anxious!? Uncertainty about the future, confusion, changes in mood and emotions to name just a few. What if we treated those symptoms holistically with massage, meditation, relaxation, aromatherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy or a mixture of these or other therapies? What if we swapped anti-psychosis drugs for human contact and understanding? What if we swapped doctors for therapists? People who are less medical and given more time for human interaction? “Time out” in sensory rooms? I’d imagine the money saved on prescriptions and stat sick pay would pay for these facilities?
A newspaper article in the Glasgow Herald this week (read article here) stated that three quarters of family doctors in Scotland deal with at least one patient per day whose main problem is loneliness. Isn’t that really sad? That people are so lonely or stressed that they need to see a doctor? But is a ten minute allocation with a medical professional really what’s needed? Surely ten minutes isn’t really enough to solve any issue?
So what is the answer? I believe it’s simple!
My favourite quote of all time was written by Henry Simmons from Alzheimer Scotland. He said
“Human Interactions are the Chemotherapy of Dementia”
But this could be applied to life in general. If we gave people our time and care instead of medicines wouldn’t the world be a better place and people feel better within it?
Obviously modern medicines are incredible and cure, and aid, so many illnesses but in my opinion so many things could be solved without medication if we just took the time to slow down, relax more, talk about things instead of bottling them up, sharing advice and issues with friends so that we all realised that what we think makes us “crazy” actually makes us normal!
The brain is a very powerful thing. But even the smartest, most efficient brains need some down time to recharge. Let’s start putting less pressure on ourselves and others to be “perfect” and just LIVE!