In today’s society it seems there is always something new to be worried about. We are bombarded with apocalyptic headlines; we have full, busy schedules and a competitive work force; we worry about our children’s safety, our family’s health, our bank balances, our personal goals, and the political climate. All of these stressors trigger anxiety, which is the body’s normal reaction to stress, and has a very important purpose. Anxiety is designed to signal dangerous, uncomfortable, or unfamiliar situations so that we remain aware and alert. However, for the 40 million adults affected by anxiety disorders (which includes Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Social Anxiety Disorder), the warning signal often sounds loudly and consistently, with no ‘off switch’ in sight.
Anxiety is meant to be life-preserving, but for many it can quickly become life-controlling. If Anxiety Disorder is preventing you or a loved one from living a full life, here are three things to keep in mind:
1. Anxiety Disorders Are Not “Just Stress”
We all experience stress and anxiety in life. Every day is full of natural highs and lows as we interact with the world, and as our expectations and goals line up with external realities. Part of being human is worrying (to a certain degree) about matters outside of our control. In situations like moving to a new city, taking a test, giving a presentation, or having an ill family member, anxiety is normal and can even prove beneficial. Through the heightened state of awareness that comes with anxiety, we grow more alert and more sensitive. Generally, the difference between routine vs. concerning levels of anxiety is the amount of time you experience it, the intensity of it, and the effect it has on your normal functioning. If anxiety is preventing you from living a full and satisfying life, it’s time to seek help.
2. The Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders May Be Physical
Anxiety is deeply tied to our physiology. Patients often report suffering from the physical symptoms of anxiety – insomnia, upset stomach or nausea, shortness of breath, headaches, fatigue, muscle tension, and more – long before anxiety is recognized as the underlying cause. Individuals may even visit their primary care doctors for help in addressing the symptoms, while the root cause remains unaddressed. If anxiety is starting to manifest on a physical level, short-term solutions that only address the symptoms will not provide lasting relief because the anxiety itself has not been addressed. Mental health affects more than just the mind, and true healing requires attending to someone’s whole health – mind, body, and spirit.
3. Proper Anxiety Treatment Can Offer Relief & Recovery
Unfortunately, only one-third of those suffering from anxiety actually receive treatment. Others delay treatment for years while numbing themselves with alcohol or prescription medication, spending excessive time on social media, or distracting themselves with work or food. Many people fear that consciously facing the source of their anxiety will make things worse. But sharing and processing your feelings, using medication thoughtfully and only when necessary, and learning the tools and resources for self-care can provide immense relief. It may be helpful to ask a trusted friend or loved one to support you in getting the help you deserve. This can mean assisting with research, helping you make phone calls, or holding you accountable for attending that first appointment.
At True Life Center for Wellbeing, we are interested in understanding each patient’s unique story in order to provide customized and holistic treatment. Our multi-faceted approach includes psychiatry; individual, couples, and family psychotherapy; and one-on-one holistic services such as yoga, meditation, acupuncture, nutrition, and more.
For more information about anxiety disorders or mental health treatment, please call True Life Center at 858-384-4535. We would be happy to provide information, resources, and support.