How do I know if I need help with my anxiety?
Anxiety is not always a bad thing. In appropriate situations, anxiety is simply a natural response to life’s events, and can help inform correct decisions. Whether because of an impending job interview, difficult conversation, first date or whatever the case may be, anxiety is a natural response to events that cause stress.
However, when that anxiety lingers after the situation has subsided, it can quickly do more harm than good. When the amount of anxiety we experience doesn’t equate to the gravity of the situation, or when anxiety is experienced for no reason at all, it might be time to talk with a medical professional about what you’re experiencing.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to determine whether the anxiety you’re experiencing is worthy of attention, or whether you’re simply encountering a natural response to your life’s events. That’s why we’ve outlined a few simple checks you can perform on yourself, to help determine whether you need help coping with your anxiety.
1. Check your body’s physical response to your anxiety.
The first step toward determining the extent to which anxiety has been affecting your body, take a moment to gauge how your anxiety has affected you physically. Over time, anxiety can take a toll on the body, but you can begin to feel the physical effects of anxiety after even a few minutes of the emotion. Here are a few symptoms of anxiety that you’re likely to experience physically:
- Upset stomach or nausea
- Accelerated heart rate
- Hyperventilation (rapid, uncontrolled breathing)
- Feeling out of breath without a valid reason
If you’re experiencing one or more of the above symptoms, you very well might be encountering the body’s physical response to anxiety. However, it’s not simply the symptoms of anxiety that warrant a visit with a licensed health professional; rather, you also want to determine the length and the severity of the symptoms themselves. Have these symptoms only surfaced sporadically, perhaps during a particularly difficult moment or day? Or have you experienced more sustained anxiety symptoms over a longer period of time?
You’ll want to consider both the symptoms you’re feeling and the severity and duration of those symptoms, when considering whether to consult a health professional regarding your anxiety.
2. Try focusing on anything else.
We’re not suggesting you try to bury your emotions by any means – that’s never a healthy coping mechanism. Here’s what we are suggesting: make a conscious effort to focus your mind on anything else in your life. Even better, perform some sort of physical activity to help expedite that process.
If you can successfully place your mind on something else, especially if you can consistently overcome your anxiety with this coping mechanism, it likely means that your anxiety is caused by life events.
However, if you find that your mind consistently returns to the same anxiety, especially if you find yourself overthinking the situation or constantly worrying about the rest of your day, it’s likely a sign that your anxiety will be better handled by a certified medical professional.
3. Determine how your symptoms have progressed over time.
We’ve already addressed above that symptoms of anxiety themselves do not warrant a visit with a health professional. However, if you’ve found that your symptoms have not improved with time, or especially if they have worsened, it might be time to consult a therapist for help handling your anxiety.
Take a moment to ascertain how your symptoms have evolved over time. You likely began to take notice of your symptoms after a specific life event, or despite the lack of any trigger. How have those same symptoms progressed over time? Have they remained steady? Have they worsened, or even improved? Have you noticed new symptoms of anxiety surface over time, especially after your anxiety began to appear more frequently?
The answers to these questions, and other questions about the nature and the length of your anxiety symptoms, can help inform your decision to get help in managing the anxiety you’re experiencing.
4. Gauge how many aspects of your life are causing you anxiety.
If you can, take a few moments and try to identify the events or triggers in your life that are responsible for your anxiety. Try to gauge how many aspects of your life are tied to your feelings of anxiety – this is one great way to answer the question “How do I know if I need help with my anxiety?”
If you determine that your anxiety is tied to one or two isolated factors – perhaps an upcoming event or a certain cause – you likely don’t need to consult the help of a counselor unless those feelings of anxiety are sustained over the coming days and weeks. However, if you find that many aspects of your life – social experiences, anticipation of upcoming events, etc. – are responsible for prolonged anxiety, then you will likely benefit from the help that a licensed medical professional can provide.
Don’t be afraid to get help for your anxiety
There are definitely instances where anxiety is strictly caused by passing life events. However, when you find that anxiety is compromising your productivity or your sense of self-confidence, it’s time to find the help you need from certified medical professionals. At Pyramid Online Counseling, we’ve made a habit of helping patients with their behavioral and mental health issues. Whether you’re experiencing anxiety, depression or co-occurring disorders, Pyramid Online Counseling is ready to offer proven treatment modalities from licensed therapists.
Don’t be afraid to reach out and source the help you need. Admitting you need help is the first step toward returning to a happier, healthier version of yourself. If you need help managing your anxiety, resources like Pyramid Online Counseling can help you pursue freedom from life’s most difficult challenges. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.