Anxiety is a natural response to stress and challenges. But, when it becomes overwhelming and interferes with daily life, it may be time to reach out for help. If you find yourself struggling with persistent feelings of worry, fear, or unease, you aren't alone. Anxiety disorders affect millions of people in Washington and across the United States. Many individuals dealing with anxiety have also found relief through effective treatment. The key is knowing when to ask for support. Let's explore 10 ways to recognize when to see a therapist for anxiety.
Persistent anxiety can feel overwhelming. When you're constantly stressed or worrying, it impacts various parts of your life. Racing thoughts may make it hard to focus or accomplish tasks at work. It might also be difficult to get through the day without feeling overwhelmed.
It's not unusual to feel nervous or fearful from time to time. But, when it becomes a regular occurrence, or you feel like you’re often in fight-or-flight mode, anxiety treatment may bring you relief.
Ongoing nervousness, stress, or panic takes a toll on your body. Anxiety can manifest in a variety of physical symptoms including:
If your health care provider has ruled out other possible health conditions, these symptoms could be anxiety related. Meeting with a licensed mental health professional can help you determine if there is an underlying anxiety disorder.
When anxiety leads to irritability, emotional outbursts, and difficulties in communication, it puts a strain on your relationships. You may feel the need to isolate yourself and stop certain activities. Withdrawing from loved ones, friends, or colleagues often negatively impacts those relationships. This also makes it more difficult to build or maintain connections with others, worsening your other symptoms.
Unexplained changes in weight or food intake can signal you’re having a difficult time. For some individuals, anxiety-related stomach aches deter them from eating. While others, use eating to cope with distress. In both of these cases, anxiety is likely causing weight fluctuations that exacerbate ongoing stress.
Anxiety often disrupts sleep patterns, leading to insomnia or restless nights. You might experience difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early due to racing thoughts and worries. Ongoing sleep issues negatively impact your well-being. It can worsen anxiety symptoms leading to a vicious cycle of stress and sleeplessness.
For many individuals, ongoing anxiety leads to difficulties with focusing, decision-making, and memory. This may be due to physical fatigue stemming from anxiety-related sleep disturbances. Or, because your mind is bogged down with racing thoughts or worries. This makes it hard to think clearly and leads to mental exhaustion. Brain fog and concentration issues can also decrease your ability to complete tasks at home or work, increasing your stress.
When anxiety becomes overwhelming, some folks turn to unhealthy coping strategies. Using alcohol, drugs, self-harm, or other risk-taking behaviors to deal with anxiety is a warning sign that it's time to reach out for help. While these methods may bring temporary relief, they can worsen symptoms and harm you in the long run. Strengthening healthy coping skills in therapy can help you manage symptoms and reduce distress.
For many individuals, anxiety leads to avoidant behaviors. This may look like staying away from situations that trigger anxiety. (E.g. social gatherings, public speaking, or leaving your home.) Or, maybe you have stopped activities that were once enjoyable to you, such as working out or painting.
Anxiety often also presents as procrastinating on tasks that you're worried about. For example, you put off starting a project at work because you're stressed about how it will turn out. If you find yourself avoiding tasks, situations, or things you once enjoyed, your anxiety might be to the point that you need treatment.
Ongoing anxiety can impact your mood. You may notice you're feeling agitated or upset about seemingly minor issues. You might snap at a coworker or loved one, or find yourself feeling disproportionately angry over a situation.
Some individuals struggling with anxiety describe feeling on edge. You might be hypervigilant, where you feel the need to be on guard all the time or startle easily. Or, you feel restless and unable to truly relax. Even during your downtime, your mind is racing or it's uncomfortable to sit still.
Panic attacks are intense episodes of fear or terror. Accompanying symptoms may include:
Experiencing panic attacks is jarring and distressing. They disrupt your daily life and can become debilitating. A few of these symptoms overlap with signs of a heart attack. Seek medical attention to rule out heart conditions, if you aren't sure if it's a panic attack.
Persistent anxiety can impact your ability to carry out household tasks or perform at work. It can also rob you of the ability to enjoy life and engage in activities that bring you joy. It's likely time to seek professional support. If you notice anxiety is making it difficult to function at home, work, or within relationships.
Living with anxiety can be overwhelming, but it doesn't have to define your life. Recognizing the signs that indicate when to see a therapist for anxiety is the first step toward finding relief. Therapy provides you with a safe space to strengthen your coping practices, improve relationships, and process past trauma. Treatment offers valuable tools and strategies to help you manage anxiety, heal, and live a more fulfilling life. Reaching out for help can be the spark that ignites your healing journey.
Existential Psychiatry offers comprehensive in-person and virtual anxiety treatment for residents of Washington. Based in Seattle, Dr. David Zacharias provides personalized psychiatric care including therapy, medication management, and personal development. If anxiety is stealing your joy, contact us today to schedule an appointment. We'll work together to help you find relief and healing.
Written by Existential Psychiatry Staff