Everyone has had a moment of “nervousness” before a big exam, performance in an event, a first date, and for many other moments of daily life. Most of us have even experienced anxiety – worry about the possibility of something bad happening. So, it is difficult to know when that “normal” anxiety becomes a reason to seek professional help. In fact, an APA 2018 poll estimated that as many as 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety.
First, it’s important to recognize the physical and psychological symptoms, both physical and psychological, of anxiety. Feelings of constant worry, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, fear of social situations or specific locations in particularly small or confined spaces are some of the most common feelings. Physical symptoms include tremor, palpitations, dizziness, nausea, and muscle tension. Both aspects of anxiety can show in a wide variety of symptoms. So, how do you know when to seek a professional evaluation? Here are questions to ask yourself in deciding whether to seek help:
- Do the symptoms you’re experiencing affect your daily life?
- Is your ability to function in family, work and social situations affected?
- Are you avoiding specific locations?
- Are your relationships with family, friends, and colleagues impacted?
- Does your inner worry keep you from being able to relate to those around you?
- Do you have physical symptoms with no clear cause?
- Are you engaging in self-destructive behaviors to reduce anxiety in unhealthy ways?
- Are you using alcohol or drugs to reduce or mask your symptoms?
- Are you taking sleeping pills or sleep aids to get to sleep every night?
- Are you overindulging comfort food or unable to eat properly?
The connection between emotions and our physical health is well established. Stress and anxiety take a toll on our physical health – truly nature’s way of telling us it’s time to do something different.
Unfortunately, many primary care professionals bring a limited treatment approach to this disorder. Anxiety is a complex disorder, and while medication alone may be effective for some, the most impactful treatments include multiple treatment approaches which may include education, counseling, and medication. Seek a referral from your primary care provider to a program which offers a multi-disciplinary approach to this most common of afflictions. If you have questions or want to talk, reach out to Centrec Care for more information on anxiety management.