When Do You Need Anxiety Help?
Thursday, January 5 2017 Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC
It can be surprisingly difficult to know when you need anxiety help. Sometimes we are agitated, second-guessing ourselves, worrying about our mistakes or how we’re perceived or that something bad will happen. Yet despite this nagging anxiety, it’s common to wonder if you need anxiety help or if the anxiety is just something to deal with until it passes. Here, learn ways to tell if you need anxiety help.
Questions to Help You Decide When You Need Anxiety Help
Anxiety can be specific or vague. It can involve worry, fear, and panic. It can cause physical and emotional symptoms. Paying attention to the nature and intensity of your anxiety can help you determine if you need anxiety help.
Consider the following questions as you reflect on your anxiety. Writing down both questions and answers can help you sort things out, and your responses can become a very useful discussion tool if and when you do decide to find anxiety help.
- What is your anxiety like? How does it affect your body? Your emotions? Your thoughts? Your behaviors and actions?
- How does anxiety impact your functioning? Does it interfere in many areas of your life (such as social/relationships, work, family life, etc.)? Or does anxiety have minimal impact on how you live your life?
- On a scale from one to 10, with one being very poor and 10 being outstanding, rate the quality of your life with anxiety. Why did you rate it this way?
- How long have your anxiety symptoms been part of your life? (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illness, Fifth Edition, specifies that, for most anxiety disorders, the symptoms must be present for at least six months for anxiety to qualify as a disorder.)
- How is your sleep? Anxiety has a nasty habit of disrupting sleep, which fuels more anxiety (The [Dysfunctional] Relationship Between Sleep and Anxiety).
Your answers will help you realize just how much anxiety is disrupting your life. If you find that anxiety symptoms are intense, they’ve been present for more than half a year, and the quality of your life is lower than you want it to be, you might decide that you need and want help for your anxiety.
Does the Cause Determine Whether You Need Anxiety Help?
Anxiety can have many different causes. They can be biological, passed down from parent to child. Causes of anxiety can also be environmental. Sometimes situations, circumstances, or people can cause anxiety and anxiety disorders. Past or present trauma can also lead to anxiety.
The causes of anxiety are multiple and complex. By themselves, the causes don’t always determine whether you need anxiety help. Anxiety’s causes can be important (but they doesn’t have to be, for sometimes anxiety strikes seemingly without a cause); however, it isn’t always a consideration in the decision to seek treatment. The biggest factor is how anxiety is impacting your ability to function in your life.
Types of Anxiety Help
If you do decide to seek help for anxiety, there are many different types of mental health treatment available. Some of these options include:
- Your regular doctor -- He or she can rule out medical causes, discuss treatment options, prescribe medication, and refer you to other professionals.
- Psychologists, therapists, and counselors -- These mental health professionals can work with you to sort things out.
- Support groups -- Local organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) have support groups in which people dealing with similar challenges, such as anxiety, help and support each other in a structured environment.
- Bibliotherapy -- Reading articles and books (fiction, non-fiction, and self-help) can offer tremendous insight into how to deal with anxiety.
- Online resources and support -- Finding good information and connecting with people online can help you learn about and manage anxiety. HealthyPlace and this Anxiety-Schmanxiety blog are examples of this.
Anxiety is confusing, and it can be hard to know when to seek anxiety help. Reflecting on your experiences with anxiety and the quality of your life can help you determine whether you want to find help for anxiety. Above all, know what you want and how you can best accomplish it. Seek help for anxiety when you need it in order to thrive once again.