Managing anxiety is critical to living a fulfilling life. While everyone experiences anxiety at some point in their lives, it can develop into an anxiety disorder, which can disrupt daily life, leaving individuals feeling overwhelmed and stressed.
Nonetheless, anxiety is a natural feeling, and as an anxiety-focused therapist, Aisha R. Shabazz, LCSW, puts it, the body senses when a person may not be safe and produces the necessary response. Anxiety can trigger flight or fight instincts, people-pleasing behavior, or even a desire to hide. It is, however, problematic when it occurs frequently or intensifies beyond a reasonable level, affecting how a person functions.
This article discusses how to now when anxiety is more than just a natural instinct to protect you from potential danger, and when you should consider reaching out for support.
Anxiety’s growing prevalence
In the current world, the prevalence of anxiety is on the rise, which makes it more challenging to care for oneself, resulting in a growing number of people with a diagnosable anxiety disorder.
Research shows that 28.3% of adults in the United States reported experiencing anxiety symptoms in late July 2022. Consequently, it is essential to know when anxiety is merely regular stress or a diagnosable condition that requires intervention.
You’re anxious more often than not
You might have an anxiety disorder if you feel anxious more frequently than you do not. A constant feeling of anxiousness may signify an anxiety disorder. It can feel like there is a noisy air conditioning unit humming in the back of your head that never stops. You may also be on edge, making it difficult to focus, sleep, or maintain a positive mood. Waiting for something terrible to happen could also indicate that you need help as this may lead to generalized anxiety disorder, a condition that involves constant fear, worry, and dread.
You have regular occurring panic attacks
Experiencing panic attacks may also be a sign of an anxiety disorder. Panic attacks can be described as an overwhelming sense of anxiety that is so intense that it can trigger physical symptoms such as trembling, tingling, difficulty breathing, and even chest pains. Panic disorder is another type of anxiety disorder that can trigger panic attacks.
You avoid socializing at all costs
Individuals with social anxiety are likely to feel self-conscious in public, mainly if the interactions involve meeting new people or making small talk. A person with social anxiety may worry excessively about being judged, which can make them overly self-conscious, making it challenging to engage in social activities. This anxiety may cause the individual to sweat profusely, blush, feel nauseous, avoid eye contact, or speak quietly.
Everyday interactions cause overwhelm
Agoraphobia can also manifest as anxiety in crowded spaces like grocery stores or elevators. Agoraphobia has grown more prevalent since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as places that were once deemed safe now feel unsafe. Anxiety can also interfere with work, school, or social activities. If you find yourself struggling with everyday activities, have trouble sleeping, feel moody, or are avoiding social activities, you may have an anxiety disorder.
You feel like you should ask for help
If you feel anxious enough to consider seeking help, it is worth getting professional assistance. An anxiety specialist can determine whether you have a diagnosable anxiety disorder and recommend an appropriate treatment plan. The diagnosis acts as a roadmap, guiding the patient to the necessary treatment that will help them lead a more balanced and fulfilling life.
It is important to note that anxiety disorders are not a sign of weakness or a personal shortcoming. Many factors can cause anxiety disorders, including genetic predisposition, stress, or environmental factors. With proper treatment, anxiety disorders can be managed, allowing individuals to lead happy and healthy lives.
Anxiety disorders can be managed using various therapeutic approaches, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, traditional medication, and ketamine therapy among others. Engaging in self-care activities, such as regular exercise, mindfulness, or stress reduction techniques, can also be helpful in managing anxiety. In addition, seeking support from friends and family, joining a support group, or seeking professional help can provide additional resources for managing anxiety.
Anxiety looks different on everyone
It's important to remember that everyone's experience with anxiety is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. Therefore, it may be necessary to try different approaches or a combination of approaches to find what works best for an individual. With the right support and treatment, individuals with anxiety disorders can lead fulfilling and successful lives.
If you or someone you know is in crisis or in need of immediate support, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK