Do You Need Therapy for Anxiety? Decide Using this Checklist
Thursday, April 12 2018 Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC
If you're asking yourself, "Do I need therapy for anxiety?", this article will help you find an answer. Anxiety therapy can be extremely helpful in reducing anxiety and taking back the person you know you are and miss having around. As bad as anxiety can be, we often are unsure of whether or not we need therapy for anxiety. We wonder if we’re making too big of a deal out of things. Should we just keep trying to deal with anxiety symptoms by ourselves? Wondering when to enlist the help of a therapist is common. This checklist can be a useful tool in deciding whether you need therapy for anxiety or not.
Checklist to See if You Need Therapy for Anxiety
The following signs often point to a need for therapy for anxiety. You don’t need to have all of the signs to benefit from professional anxiety help. If you're experiencing just one, your need for anxiety therapy increases.
▢ Your anxiety is negatively impacting one or more areas of your life.
Sometimes we have anxious thoughts, feelings, or physical sensations that are bothersome, but we can function in our lives without too much difficulty. When anxiety starts to interfere with your quality life, it may be time to seek anxiety therapy (Anxiety Disorder Symptoms, Anxiety Disorder Signs). If you notice anxiety getting in the way of any of your relationships, work, leisure time, or other aspects of the life you’re used to, getting professional help can get you back on track.
▢ You’ve had anxious thoughts, emotions, and physical symptoms persistently for months.
Anxiety is a normal human emotion and response to stressful situations. The fight-or-flight response kicks in to help us deal with tough situations, and while it doesn’t feel great, it does help us through. But if your anxiety symptoms don’t subside in a reasonable amount of time, you may need therapy for anxiety. What’s reasonable? For most anxiety disorders, the American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) specifies six months (an exception is panic disorder, which is one month).
▢ You’ve had people tell you that you need therapy for anxiety or simply "help."
Sometimes others observe changes in our behavior that we don’t realize are there—or that we think we’re hiding. You might not realize how irritable you’ve become, for example. Perhaps you think you’re concealing a fear but others can spot how the fear is affecting you.
▢ You’re turning to substance use to manage your anxiety.
Known as self-medication for anxiety, using alcohol or drugs (street drugs or prescriptions not written for you), is common. It’s estimated that between 33% and 45% of people with anxiety disorders also have a substance use disorder. This statistic doesn’t account for people who haven’t been diagnosed and use substances to handle anxiety on their own. If you’re turning to alcohol or other substances to manage anxiety, you’re not alone and it’s not shameful—and anxiety therapy can help you regain control.
▢ This isn’t your first rodeo.
Anxiety is stubborn and has a way of popping back into our lives after we’ve already successfully overcome it. If this has happened to you, seeing an anxiety therapist will help you prevent anxiety from overtaking you again. Anxiety is a reaction in the brain as well as a learned behavior pattern that can become an automatic response in times of stress. So, too, are the anxiety management skills we learn. Therefore, having tune-ups now and then make your healthy responses stronger than your anxiety.
▢ Plain and simple, you’re tired of feeling like this, living like this.
The above items on this checklist do indicate that it could be time for anxiety help. But what if they don’t quite fit you yet your anxiety feels like it’s smothering you and taking control of your inner world? This is enough to signal that you need therapy for anxiety. Listen to your instinct, tune into your intuition, and take back your life.
Now that you’ve considered this checklist, you may have decided to seek anxiety therapy. This guide can help you find anxiety help: How to Find Mental Health Services in Your Area.