Prejudice and disability
Disability is all in the eye of the beholder. If someone has lost a limb or has some equally visible sign of a physical problem, the reaction is usually sympathetic. But take away the more obvious visual clues, and how the general public will react becomes a lot less predictable. I am as blind as a bat without my spectacles but short-sightedness is socially acceptable. Not everyone with a disability is so fortunate.
Everyone who has a mental disorder will understand this. People who are depressed are told to 'get a grip' or 'snap out of it' as if emotions can be controlled at will. Those who suffer from panic or anxiety attacks are labelled 'hysterical' and 'unbalanced' which are hurtful words.
The public does not understand the true nature of mental disorders. This can produce fear because people do not know how to react if someone around them has an attack or because they think they may also be at risk of the same disorder. Prejudice and cruelty are the result. These reactions amplify the problem for the victims. If the disabled know that people will mock or criticise them if they have an anxiety or panic attack, they are more likely to avoid situations in which there may be stress. Carry this one step further and it becomes agoraphobia where they are too frightened to leave the house at all.
There are millions of people who suffer from anxiety and panic disorders, whether on their own or as a symptom of depression. To continue their everyday lives, they rely on xanax. Let unmake a clear distinction. This is not like appearing on American Idol where contestants willingly risk humiliation to search for fame and fortune
This is mundane existence: get through the door and drive to work to earn enough to live on. If that paycheck does not come at the end of the month, this is financial disaster. The advantage of xanax is that sufferers simply take a pill three or four times a day and this controls the more obvious symptoms. They can then walk around, doing their jobs with no one any the wiser.
This points to another aspect of the problem. No one likes to talk about these disorders. Even doctors have a reputation for being less than supportive so looking for treatment becomes more stressful.
There is always the feeling that patients are being judged when they talk to others about how they feel. Research suggests that about 20% of people with anxiety and panic disorders do not get help, but buy xanax through the internet without first discussing the problems with a doctor.
While this is understandable, it is not necessarily wise. Therapy and counselling are the most reliable long-term 'cures'. Xanaxsimply keeps the symptoms at bay and should only be used over short periods of time.
But fear can affect people in another way. Even though they may eventually accept the need to get treatment, they may also fear what the medications will do to their bodies. Anxiety and panic are not necessarily 'rational'. No matter what evidence they may read or hear about safety, even the slightest risk of side effects can seem daunting. Do we trust what our doctor tells us?
Do we think the drug companies are completely honest about all the risks? The fact that the more obvious symptoms of anxiety and panic can be controlled in 70% of patients within the first two or three weeks of starting a course of xanax simply leaves people worrying about what happened to the other 30%.
The explanation is that it takes time and patience to follow a course of treatment and this allows people to fall prey to their anxieties. Many simply stop taking the medication or take it too infrequently for it to work well. Prejudice in all of us can perpetuate anxiety and panic disorders.
About the author:
John Scott contributes regularly to http://www.forgetanxiety.com and covers a wide range of topics including xanax. For more information, go to http://www.forgetanxiety.com.