Is Anxiety a Disability?
Anxiety can be considered a disability when it interferes with a person’s daily life and ability to function in their social, family, and career lives. In the United States, for example, anxiety disorders can be classified as disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This classification means individuals with severe anxiety can receive appropriate accommodations in their workplace, school, and other settings covered by the law.
Of course, not all cases of anxiety are considered disabilities. This is because anxiety is a normal and common human state that everyone sometimes experiences. It only becomes a disability in certain circumstances.
Can People With Anxiety Excel in Their Careers?
People with anxiety can succeed in many different jobs and career paths. However, a tailored work environment and specific job characteristics might better fit patients experiencing anxiety. It’s important to remember that everyone’s experience with anxiety is different, and what works for one person might not for another. The triggers for anxiety are also different for every person. While stress is a common trigger, what we are stressed over can be very different. For example, some patients may find interactions with coworkers and clients anxiety-inducing, while for others, isolation may trigger similar anxiety. Here are some general suggestions for jobs that might be suited for those with anxiety:
- Freelance or remote work allows for more flexibility in scheduling and the ability to work from the comfort of home, which can be calming for some
- Pursuing a career in the creative world, like art, writing, graphic design, or photography, can provide an outlet for self-expression and can be a therapeutic way to cope
- Working with animals, such as in a veterinary clinic, pet grooming salon, or animal shelter, can provide a calming environment and a fulfilling
- Positions that involve attention to detail, like data entry, programming, or accounting, can provide structure and predictability
- Jobs in skilled trades, like carpentry, plumbing, or electrical work, can offer a sense of accomplishment and mastery, which may keep anxiety at bay
- Positions that involve working outdoors or physical labor, like gardening or landscaping, can offer a change of scenery and an opportunity for physical activity
- Passion projects are also a great way to manage anxiety. When an individual loves what they are doing
When choosing a job, you must consider your strengths, weaknesses, and the specific nature of anxiety. The Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center believes a career is integral to recovery. Our comprehensive career launch program helps our patients set appropriate career goals and get them on a track for fulfillment and success.
Is It Possible to Have a Fulfilling Work Life With Severe Anxiety?
It is possible to work with severe anxiety, but it can be challenging, to be sure. The experience at work will vary from person to person. Some individuals might find that their stress impacts their ability to focus, interact with others, or handle the demands of their job. However, with appropriate treatment and support, people with severe anxiety can often manage their symptoms and maintain successful careers.
We’ve compiled some strategies to help individuals with severe anxiety navigate the workplace:
- Seek professional help from a mental health professional for an accurate diagnosis, appropriate treatment, and guidance on managing anxiety.
- Develop coping mechanisms and practice stress management techniques, such as deep breathing, mindfulness, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation.
- Build a support network of trusted colleagues, friends, or family members who can offer encouragement and assistance when needed.
- Set realistic goals and expectations by breaking tasks into smaller, manageable steps and avoid overloading yourself with work.
- Prioritize self-care by sleeping well, eating a balanced diet, and engaging in regular physical activity to support mental and physical well-being.
- If you have a diagnosed anxiety disorder, you might be eligible for reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Given your anxiety, analyze whether your current job or work environment is a good fit for you. Consider exploring other career paths that align with your needs and abilities.
Can Having a Disability Cause Anxiety?
Absolutely, yes. Having a disability can contribute to the development or exacerbation of anxiety in some individuals. Living with a disability can present unique challenges that might lead to feelings of stress, uncertainty, or frustration, which can, in turn, contribute to anxiety. Some factors that might increase anxiety for individuals with disabilities include:
- Physical limitations: A person with a disability may experience physical limitations or pain that can cause stress and increase anxiety levels.
- Social isolation: Disabilities can sometimes lead to isolation or loneliness if an individual has difficulty participating in social activities or experiences discrimination or stigma.
- Financial stress: The costs of medical care, assistive devices, or additional support services can place a financial strain on an individual with a disability, which may lead to anxiety.
- Employment challenges: People with disabilities may face difficulties obtaining or maintaining employment or require accommodations to perform their job, which can contribute to anxiety.
- Dependence on others: Some individuals with disabilities may require assistance with daily tasks, leading to feelings of dependence and, potentially, anxiety about relying on others.
- Mental health comorbidity: Anxiety may coexist with other mental health conditions, such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sometimes experienced by individuals with disabilities.
It is important to recognize that everyone’s experience with disability and anxiety is unique. If you or someone you know is experiencing anxiety related to a disability, it is crucial to seek support from mental health professionals, family, friends, or support groups to help manage these feelings and develop coping strategies.
It’s essential to remember that managing severe anxiety is a continuous process that might require adjustments and ongoing support. Open communication with healthcare professionals, employers, and support networks can help make working with severe anxiety more manageable.