ETV program "Suud puhtaks" discussed mental health and anxiety disorders on Tuesday night, a subject that doesn't often get discussed in Estonia.
Child psychiatrist Ere Vasli said on the broadcast that anxiety disorders are often ignored because people don't recognize them for what they are.
"When a person is anxious, they don't say 'I'm very anxious, I can't talk to you.' They are [seen as] a loner and we think they are a quiet, shy person. But in fact, social anxiety may be behind this behavior. This is the case with all anxiety disorders. They are not immediately visible disorders. You have to talk to and listen to the person," Vasli said.
Anna-Kaisa Oidermaa, the CEO of mental health nonprofit Peaasi, also said that anxiety disorders are a hidden problem and need to be talked about more often.
"I don't think putting on a brave face makes much sense. My experience as a clinical psychologist is that it doesn't help people... Really, it's a hidden problem and if we're just talking about outside appearances, we will sweep it under the rug," she said.
Oidermaa believes the changing world can cause anxiety. She said that although there is a lot of information in today's world, there is little information on how to relieve anxiety.
The head of the Family Physicians Association, Le Vallikivi, said one of the causes of anxiety today could be that there are too many opportunities. This amount of choice can confuse and annoy a person. "Anxiety is a snake that eats its tail, feeds on its own anxiety, and that anxiety continues to grow," she added.
According to the head of the School Psychologists' Association, Karmen Maikalu, children and young people may be anxious about the high expectations that are placed on them. According to her, there are many anxious children among very conscientious children.
When it comes to treatments, the use of sedatives and sleeping pills in Estonia is growing. Last year, 131,000 people were prescribed tranquillizers or sleeping pills, with 21,000 for a diagnosis of anxiety disorder.
Ere Vasli and psychiatrist Margus Lõokene, from North Estonia Regional Hospital (PERH), think 131,000 prescriptions is a lot.
"The numbers are difficult to look at, but anyway, it seems like a lot. There are few diseases that can actually be treated with tranquilizers or sleeping pills. Second class are antidepressants, but the use of tranquilizers is very rare," Vasli said.
"There seems to be a lot of prescriptions. But there are probably two groups: patients with anxiety and patients with addictions," Lõokene said.
According to the doctor sleeping pills and sedatives are not suitable for long-term treatment.
An estimated 10-28 percent of people have experienced anxiety disorders in their lifetime. It is a psychological problem that affects a large part of society. The number of cases of anxiety disorder has been stable in recent years, but anxiety disorders are becoming a serious problem for young people.
Editor: Helen Wright