Workplace Dynamics: Working With an Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety disorders are very difficult things to live with. Anxiety attacks may happen for no obvious reason, at the most inopportune moments. This is actually a common medical condition, but those with the problem rarely discuss it with anyone, if they can help it. Anxiety disorders are so unpleasant, and cause such serious dysfunction, that it's not the sort of topic that easily enters conversation.

The Work Environment

The workplace environment contains some natural stresses which may act as aggravating elements. Managing the situation will require some help.

While your disorder may be a source of considerable concern and regular irritation, to handle any workplace issues it may cause, you will need to tell your employer about the problem. Despite your natural reservations regarding discussing these issues, it really is necessary, because if you don't, nobody will know how to deal with the situation.

Important: Don't try and "manage" an active anxiety disorder by yourself.

If you try to manage it without assistance, you may find that your highly defensive mindset during episodes can result in major issues with other staff and management. They know nothing about your situation. They may consider you to be hysterical, hostile or unreasonable, not suffering from a medical condition.

Employers will also be concerned for your welfare in these situations, as well as concerned you didn't tell them about the issues. If they don't know there's a problem, they can't help effectively when there's a situation that needs managing.

How to Handle the Workplace with an Anxiety Disorder

You can get effective assistance from employers quite easily. If you explain the situation beforehand, they know what they're dealing with. This is a medical situation, it's nobody's business but yours and your confidentiality will be respected. The only people that need to know anything about it are the management stream and the office nurse or first aid person.

When at work, you can also put in place a good system for dealing with any problems and making the workplace a friendly environment:

Put the first aid person on speed dial: This is quick, effective, and when the first aid person is briefed and ready to help, it becomes a no-fuss situation. If you've had an anxiety disorder for a while, you'll know the signs and be able to respond effectively.

Develop a stress management program for yourself: Create a good, reliable work system as a self-backup to reduce any effects of episodes. Work steadily and systematically, so you can be sure of not being stressed by deadlines, or sudden calls on your time. That's a natural stress reducer, and you can stay organized under all conditions.

Analyze any causes you may identify: Any situation which regularly causes problems may, ironically, help you deal with the condition. Finding the triggers to anxiety attacks is a big help in treatment. Your doctor might have an instant answer to the triggers which could really improve your quality of life.

The good news about anxiety disorders is that they do respond to treatment over time. Reducing their effects as the disorder takes its natural course is the simplest, safest way of minimizing the effects.