Anxiety is something that comes with being human. We all feel it from time to time, although for some it’s worse than others. Therapists describe anxiety as the experience of having panic attacks, obsessive thoughts, and worrying that will not subside. While all of us worry from time to time, folks who live with anxiety find that their worries will not go away. Some folks worry that they’re not sick ‘enough’ for treatment. They may experience anxiety regularly, but not feel that they actually need to take the next step of therapy. Most folks with anxiety have developed coping mechanisms to keep them going, so it can be hard to figure out when those coping mechanisms have stopped working and you need extra support.
What are the symptoms of anxiety?
- Muscle tension
- Frequent illness
- GI distress, diarrhea
- Excessive sweating
- Panic attacks
The difference between clinical anxiety and the everyday anxiety we all feel is that clinical anxiety prevents you from living your life normally. It’s normal to once in a while feel nervous or worried, but you don’t need to feel that way all of the time. If you are frequently feeling anxious, or it is negatively impacting your work or school life in a way that is causing concern, then you will want to consider treatment for anxiety.
Are you concerned about the role anxiety is playing in your life? Here are some questions to ask yourself while deciding to seek therapy for your anxiety:
Do I experience frequent mood changes?
People with anxiety frequently deal with mood changes and irritability. Is your fuse shorter than normal? Are things upsetting you that didn’t in the past? You can also try to gauge this by seeing how others react to you. Do people walk on eggshells around you, waiting for you to blow up? Anxiety can leave you feeling a wide range of emotions, and you might have trouble managing the changes to your mood that they bring.
Am I tired all of the time?
Being stressed all of the time is a lot of work both mentally and physically. Your body keeps you in distress mode for so long that it depletes its resources and leaves you feeling burnt out and tired. If you’re feeling tired all the time, there are plenty of reasons why that could be the case. However, if you do decide to seek treatment, mention your energy levels to your provider so they can make sure to have the full picture.
How do I feel physically?
Although we think of anxiety as being primarily in the brain, we feel it in the body as well. Anxiety can leave folks with a whole mess of physical symptoms. Some folks experience GI symptoms like stomach aches, frequent headaches, or even just getting sick a lot. Being anxious for an extended period of time can take a real toll on your body, including your immune system.
How am I coping right now?
How do you deal with your current anxiety? What coping mechanisms do you use? Do you use any substances to help yourself feel better? If you are struggling to cope and find yourself leaning on things like drugs or alcohol to make you feel better, it might be time to get some help. If your coping mechanisms aren’t substance-related, ask yourself: are they working? Do they actually help you feel better, or does nothing you try help?
And the number one question:
Does anxiety interfere with my everyday life?
The big question to ask yourself is: does this impact me, every day? If you deal with anxiety all of the time, to the point where it interferes with your routine, then it might be time to get extra support. Anxiety interfering with daily life can look a little different for everyone. Some folks may struggle with social interactions while others have a hard time falling asleep due to worrying. Not everyone experiences stress and anxiety in the same way, so it’s important to take a step back to see how it affects your everyday life.
Remember, there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to the timing of therapy. Everyone has their own personal limits and feelings, and those may come into play when deciding to choose therapy. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that when something interferes with your daily life for an extended period, it might be time to seek help from a professional. If you need help deciding whether it’s time to go to therapy for your anxiety, give us a call and we can help you talk through your options.