Anxiety is the most common mental health concern in America, affecting many people daily through physical, mental, or emotional stress. Many factors in life can cause people to feel anxious, like waiting for a long time, being in a crowded area, or starting a new job.
Different things cause people anxiety, and it happens at different levels, from nervousness and worry to being unable to leave their homes or live a productive life. For some people, anxiety is a slight nervousness where it’s debilitating to others.
If anxiety is causing you stress and discomfort, it may be time for you to seek anxiety treatment. Getting help could change your life.
Understanding Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety comes in many forms, from approaching a problem with a coworker, taking an important exam, or making a difficult decision. Just like there are many triggers for anxiety, there are multiple types of anxiety disorders.
Common anxiety disorders are:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Excessive worry or fear about everyday activities or situations.
- Social Anxiety Disorder. Fear of social situations or of being rejected or humiliated by others.
- Panic Disorder. Involve sudden panic attacks, including intense fear and physical symptoms like sweating and chest pain.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Persistent, intrusive thoughts that can only be stopped by performing a compulsive behavior, like checking and double checking locks or excessive hand washing.
- Phobias. Fears of certain specific things, like spiders or heights.
“Classifying anxiety is helpful, but what’s more important is to identify the symptoms a person is having and where they originate,” said Michele Jewell, Director of Admissions at Integrative Life Center. “Understanding the root cause of anxiety means a therapist can help the person heal the core of the issue, not just treat symptoms.”
Anxiety disorders may cause you to respond to something with feelings of fear, dread, or worry. You may also experience physical symptoms, like sweating and increased heart rate.
“Anxiety symptoms can make someone feel out of control, emotionally and physically,” Michelle said. “It can even make them feel like they’re having a heart attack or are totally out of control of their body.”
Common anxiety symptoms include:
- Excessive worry or fear
- Difficulty breathing
- Upset stomach
- Rapid heartbeat
- Avoidance of people or things that make you anxious
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep disturbances
- Panic or anxiety attacks
But anxiety isn’t always bad. It can help you notice dangerous situations and focus your attention. It’s when it keeps you from doing the things you want to do or feeling well that anxiety becomes an issue.
When anxiety affects your daily life, it’s probably time to seek treatment. Anxiety treatment helps you identify what causes your anxiety and how to respond differently.
How Anxiety Affects a Person’s Life
Anxiety is a mental health disorder that can significantly disrupt a person’s life. It can make it difficult for people to live to the fullest. Other traits of an anxiety disorder include that it:
Interferes with the Ability to Function
Anxiety can hinder your ability to function in your day-to-day life, reducing your quality of life significantly. It can cause you to avoid new things, like applying for a job you want, out of fear. Anxiety can become so severe that it can cause you never to want to leave your house or bed. Sudden panic attacks can cause extreme discomfort and unwanted attention, resulting in more anxiety.
Creates a Lack of Control
No one knows when anxiety will approach, which makes it frightening. Anxiety can make you feel like you don’t have control of the situation or even your life. It can cause you to have poor sleep patterns, irritable responses to simple questions, or constantly worry about the next moment. Anxiety can cause you to isolate yourself because you don’t know what to expect from any situation. It can get so extreme that you remove yourself from everything or everyone you love.
Fosters Emotional Dysregulation
Anxiety creates many feelings within those who experience it, from fear and worry to dread and stress. It fosters emotional dysregulation that causes you to become irritable, depressed, moody, or angry. By interrupting your day-to-day life and routines, you can feel out of balance, and your emotions can reflect that. Having panic attacks in public spaces can cause embarrassment for some, thus making them feel more vulnerable and emotional.
“Anxiety can keep you from living your most authentic life,” Michelle explained. “It can hold you back from doing the things you want to do and being who you want to be. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Treatment can help you put anxiety where it belongs and live your life to the fullest.”
How to Self-Manage Anxiety
Before seeking treatment and during treatment, there are ways you can attempt to self-manage anxiety. These skills can help with mild and moderate anxiety symptoms. You may need to try several of them before you find what works for you.
Ways to self-manage anxiety include:
- Practice Relaxation Techniques. When you start feeling anxious, practice mindful meditation, write in a journal, or do a deep breathing exercise. Try to center your thoughts on what’s real and within your control.
- Exercise Regularly. Move your body every day. Exercise releases endorphins that are natural mood boosters and help with anxiety.
- Manage Triggers. Learn what triggers your anxiety and avoid those things when possible.
- Control Expectations. The less you worry about things being perfect, the less anxious you’ll feel. Understand that things won’t go as planned, and you’ll be fine.
- Limit Caffeine and Alcohol. Both substances are known to increase feelings of anxiety. Avoid them if you can.
- Get Enough Sleep. Getting at least six hours of sleep each night will help your brain feel rested and less anxious.
- Challenge Negative Thoughts. Ask yourself, “What also may be true?” This simple question will limit catastrophic thinking.
- Seek Help. Seek assistance from a mental health professional to help you understand the root cause of the anxiety and how to cope with it.
“Self-management strategies are excellent for helping people manage their anxiety, but they work best when coupled with treatment from a mental health professional,” Michelle said.
When Should You Seek Treatment for Anxiety?
While self-managing anxiety might work for some people or for some time, it may also be a good idea to work with a mental health professional to get to the root cause of your anxiety and heal from it. A therapist also can help you learn specific ways to cope with your unique anxiety symptoms.
So, when should you seek treatment for anxiety? While it’s different for everyone, a few key indicators can signal that someone needs more help
When Daily Life is Too Much
Anxiety can be uncontrollable, and you may feel your life heading in that direction. When anxiety becomes so severe that it creates this chaos in your daily life by impacting your job, relationships, and mental and physical health, it’s time to seek professional mental health services.
When Experiencing Other Mental Health Issues
Mental health issues like depression or suicidal ideation can cause anxiety to worsen and make life more unbearable to enjoy. On top of extreme feelings of sadness, unwantedness, disapproval, and loneliness, anxiety can cause those feelings to deepen and create more panic, fear, and worry while dealing with several mental health issues. Someone experiencing multiple mental health concerns should reach out and seek treatment and know they don’t have to go through the challenging healing journey alone.
When Physical Symptoms Manifest
Anxiety can go beyond being a mental hurdle to affecting the physical body. It can cause you to lose sleep and sudden panic attacks that feel like heart attacks, and the stress can wear on your internal organs, causing them to overwork. Anxiety can affect the stomach by causing stress that creates stomach ulcers, impacting the lining of your stomach and its reactions to acids. When physical effects manifest, you should begin to seek treatment before these worsen, as many can be treatable and preventable.
When You Need Support
Going through a mental health condition like anxiety can make you feel lonely. It can cause you to push those people closest to you away. It can make you uncomfortable with opening up about your experiences or feelings. Sometimes, you may need help identifying your triggers and fostering healthy life skills.
Whatever the case may be, you need support, and getting treatment for anxiety from a mental health professional is a great beginning. Your provider can help support you and guide you to healing.
“You don’t need a definitive reason to seek help from a mental health professional. If you don’t feel like yourself or you need help working through something, that’s reason enough,” said Michelle.
The Benefits of Treating Anxiety
While seeking treatment for anxiety may make you nervous or frightened, many benefits come from it. By seeking treatment, you can see positive results in your daily life by uncovering and healing issues that affect your anxiety and cause other mental health concerns. You can learn positive coping strategies that help you handle anxiety symptoms. Treatment can also help you reduce your anxiety so much that you can begin developing and achieving the goals you’ve always wanted.
Improvement of Daily Life
Treatment can help you regain control of your emotions, physical and mental well-being, and overall life. It can help you repair and maintain relationships and connections broken by your anxiety. By talking with a mental health professional and creating a treatment plan, including healthy coping strategies and realistic goals set, you can begin to see an improvement in your daily life again.
Uncovering and Healing Other Issues
While getting treatment for anxiety and working with a mental health professional, you may uncover other mental health concerns that have gone unnoticed, like negative trauma responses or depression. You may discover the root of your anxiety could be another mental health concern. By seeking treatment, you’re allowing yourself a chance to heal from all of these issues. Treatment can continue to expand for you and be whatever you need based on your healing goals.
Learning Coping Skills
Learning healthy coping skills to help soothe or relieve your anxiety can significantly benefit you. You’ll learn how to identify triggers and what to do when you’re anxious to work through those feelings. Treatment helps you learn to deal with your anxiety in the most effective, healthiest ways.
Are there goals you’ve always wanted to reach but your anxiety won’t allow you to pursue? Once you take control of your anxiety, you can begin working toward these goals. Anxiety will no longer prevent you from seeking a promotion, asking out that special someone on a date, or living the life you have always wanted. Going through treatment and accomplishing your goals can be rewarding and sometimes motivate you to improve.
“The greatest benefit of seeking professional help for anxiety is feeling better. You deserve to live fully in your one life,” Michelle said.
The Process of Getting Treatment for Anxiety
The process is quite simple when you decide to seek treatment for your anxiety. Once you recognize that you’re having anxiety symptoms, it’s time to seek out a mental health professional to help. After that, the process is:
- Evaluation. Working with your mental health provider to evaluate what causes your anxiety and what are your overall treatment goals.
- Diagnosing. Your mental health provider will provide feedback and analyze you with what they know to be a mental health concern.
- Planning. Once a mental health concern is identified, you will begin planning your treatment path, including therapies and medication.
- Treating. You will work hard with your mental health provider to persevere and accomplish your healing goals.
The great news about seeking anxiety treatment is that there are so many options for healing. Various therapies can help you succeed, including private one-on-one conversations with a mental health professional or group therapy. Talk with your mental health provider to see if medication might be an option to help lessen your symptoms and find the right treatment that will help suit your healing needs and goals.
Common Types of Therapy to Treat Anxiety
What type of therapy the mental health professional you work with to treat anxiety recommends depends a lot on you. Many types of treatment can help you overcome your anxiety. The goal is to find the right treatment for your individual needs.
Anxiety treatments include:
- Breathwork Therapy. Learn breathing techniques that can halt many anxiety symptoms and, over time, lessen episodes and severity.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Identifying self-sabotaging routines, beliefs, and thoughts and swapping them with healthier ones.
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). A type of talk therapy that helps people with strong emotions understand how their thoughts affect emotions and behaviors.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). A psychotherapy treatment using lights and specific eye movements to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories.
- Exposure Therapy. A psychological treatment that helps people confront their fears in a safe space.
- Medication. Sometimes, prescribed medication can be beneficial. When used to supplement other treatment strategies, medicine use sometimes diminishes anxiety symptoms.
- Trauma-Informed Therapy. Discover the root trauma that contributes to your anxiety disorder and begin to heal it.
Having the proper treatment options available is vital because it addresses your individual needs and helps you improve.
How Long Does It Take Anxiety Treatment to Work?
Anxiety treatment is variable, just like anxiety itself. Many factors affect how long it takes anxiety treatment to work.
Factors that affect anxiety treatment:
- Anxiety Type and Severity. Not everyone has the same anxiety type with equal severity. Some people may experience mild to extreme anxiety that can onset at any time or be trigger-specific.
- The Individual. No two people are the same. Everyone’s brain is unique, which means everyone’s healing process is different too.
- Underlying Issues. Additional mental health concerns often reveal themselves during therapy, which means taking the time to treat and heal from those too.
“It would be wonderful if we could say exactly how long it will take for anxiety treatment to work or that you’d never experience anxiety again after treatment. That’s just not realistic,” Michelle explained. “What will happen is that you will gain the tools to cope with future challenges as they arise.”
How Do You Know if Treatment is Working
It can be challenging to work through difficult issues. So, how do you know if treatment is working? It’s especially important to have measures of success when you’re in the midst of treatment so you know you’re moving in the right direction.
Ways to monitor success:
- Progress Toward Goals. You’ll set goals with your therapist on what you want out of treatment. Consider whether you’re progressing toward those goals. If so, that’s positive.
- Coping Ability. Even if your anxiety isn’t gone, has how you approach it changed? If you better understand your anxiety and how to cope with it, you’re making progress.
- Changes in Daily Life. Do you feel better in your day-to-day life? Are you doing things you didn’t before, even if it feels challenging?
“If you’re feeling better and more prepared to handle anxiety, you’re moving in the right direction with anxiety treatment,” said Michelle. “Some sessions may be challenging as you work through difficult things, but you’ll have the support you need to work through those challenging days and come out better on the other side of them.”
Integrative Life Center Can Help
Integrative Life Center can help you with the anxiety treatment you need. We offer programs customized to fit your individual needs and your unique situation. If you’re ready to get control of your anxiety symptoms and move forward with your life, contact us today.