We all experience periods of worry and stress in our lives at one stage or another, and stress can in fact enhance our ability to achieve an end result. Stress and an associated increase in alertness can be beneficial before sitting an exam or before participating in a sporting final, for example. However, when we experience chronic worry, otherwise referred to as anxiety, it can significantly affect our physical, mental and emotional health, and stop us from living and enjoying our day-to-day lives.
The reasons why people who have been suffering from anxiety for more than a few weeks put off seeking help are many, and can differ from person to person. Perhaps you are:
- unaware that you are in fact suffering from anxiety, having either not experienced it before or being unfamiliar with the signs and symptoms (for more information on the signs and symptoms of anxiety, click here)
- feeling embarrassed about your anxiety and speaking up about your situation
- concerned about how much time or money you need to invest in professional help for your anxiety
- feeling hopeless and helpless, and having thoughts such as “nothing can help me” or “I will never overcome this”
Despite your reasons for putting off seeking help for your anxiety, the sooner you can locate someone who can assist, the sooner you can restore calm and happiness and enjoy your daily life.
In this article we shall raise some key questions you can ask yourself when determining if you should seek professional help for your anxiety.
Have you been suffering from anxiety for more than a few weeks?
When left untreated, anxiety can wreak havoc and negatively impact all aspects of life. If you have been experiencing anxiety for more than a few weeks, it is time to seek professional help.
Can you identify the cause of your stress?
For a person free of anxiety, they are able to easily identify the cause of any stress they are feeling. However, when you are suffering from anxiety, you may feel chronically worried or get upset without being able to determine the cause.
Is the amount of stress you are experiencing in proportion to your situation?
Anxiety can cause us to feel much more stressed, concerned or upset than we would normally feel about a difficult situation. When you next experience a hard situation, ask yourself, is my stress response in proportion to the problem at hand? If the answer is no, it may be time to receive professional help.
Are you experiencing stress for a duration longer than normal?
Generally when we are not suffering from anxiety and experience stress, any stress subsides after a short time (e.g. minutes, hours, or in some circumstances, a few days). If you find your stress or worry lasts several days, weeks, months or perhaps even years, it might be time to see a qualified health professional who can help.
Is your anxiety affecting your physical health?
When anxiety is left untreated, it can have detrimental effects on our physical health. Anxiety can have a negative impact on our health in a number of ways, including:
- a racing heart
- heart palpitations
- shortness of breath
- tightness in the throat or chest
- difficulty swallowing
- shaking or trembling
- hold or cold flushes
- sweating excessively
- dizziness or lightheadedness
- numbness or tingling
- muscle tension or pain
- nervous or upset stomach
- nausea and/or vomiting
- frequent urination or diarrhoea
- restlessness or difficulty sleeping
- exhaustion (as a result of chronic worry)
- panic attacks (characterised by the sudden onset of intense fear followed by what is often a mix of symptoms, particularly increased heart rate, palpitations, shortness of breath, trembling and/or sweating)
Anxiety takes a great toll on our mental health, but when it additionally impacts our physical health (particularly in the form of panic attacks) our body is signalling it is time to seek professional help and support.
Do you have difficulty getting out of bed in the morning? Is your anxiety stopping you from completing daily activities?
Many sufferers of anxiety find from the moment they wake up in the morning, their anxiety strikes and they feel too worried and stressed to get out of bed. This anxiousness may be due to a fear of being unable to perform adequately at home, school, work or socially. If your anxiety is stopping you from meeting your day-to-day responsibilities or completing necessary daily activities, it is time to seek help.
Do you have trouble leaving the house? Do you find yourself avoiding certain places?
Is your anxiety hindering your ability to leave the house? Perhaps this is due to fear surrounding driving or catching transport, being out in public, communicating with other people or having a panic attack outside of your home. If this sounds like you, reach out and receive help so you can get back to going about and enjoying your daily life ASAP.
Is your anxiety affecting your ability to do your job?
When suffering from anxiety, the simple task of getting out of bed, getting ready and heading off to work can be terribly difficult. Perhaps driving to work in heavy traffic or commuting by public transport amplifies your anxiety. Many people struggling with anxiety have trouble performing regular tasks in the workplace, such as making phone calls, participating in meetings or conducting presentations.
If you find yourself regularly calling in sick, arriving late to work, or finishing up early due to your anxiety, it is time to seek help. Be sure to get support before your job or career is detrimentally affected.
Is your anxiety affecting your relationships with family, friends or colleagues?
Are you withdrawing from social activities or isolating yourself from other people? When anxiety strikes, it is common to want to withdraw from other people and tuck ourselves away in the comfort of home. A fear of having a panic attack around people we know can also play a big part in wanting to avoid social situations for fear or embarrassment of it happening in front of others. If you are withdrawing from social activity due to your anxiety (and/or panic attacks), it is time to get some professional assistance and support.
Are your loved ones concerned about you?
When the people who love you most and know you best recognise your anxiety has become problematic and are concerned for you, take this as a sign of encouragement to see a health professional who can help you get back to feeling yourself.
Are you attempting to drown out your feelings of anxiety by consuming alcohol (or drugs)?
If this is the case, do not delay in seeking help from a professional therapist. Although alcohol may temporarily decrease feelings of anxiety, we can often wind up feeling more anxious later in the day/evening and/or the day following consumption.
Furthermore, long term alcohol or drug abuse can leave you unable to adequately meet your day-to-day responsibilities, which can cause anxiety to intensify over time.
Have you considered or attempted self-harm or suicide as a result of your anxiety?
If the answer is yes, seek immediate treatment. If you are having thoughts of wanting to harm or kill yourself as you can’t bear the pain you are in any longer, reach out for help immediately.
Where To Receive Professional Help For Anxiety
- In case of emergency, call Triple Zero
- If you require urgent support, call the 24/7 Beyond Blue Support Service on 1300 22 4636
- Visit your local doctor, who can refer you to a psychologist, psychiatrist or other qualified professional who can best give you the help you need
- Visit your local mental health clinic
- See or speak to a professional therapist at Brain Wellness Spa to help you recover from anxiety and get back to enjoying a happy and fulfilling life