anxiety, counseling, goals, psychology, self-help

Signs It May Be Time to See a Therapist to Get Help for Your Anxiety

Do you ever wonder if your anxiety is normal OR if it is time to seek out help for your symptoms? Shining a light on mental health issues helps to reduce the stigma that keeps many people from seeking support.

Anxiety is the most prevalent mental health disorder in America. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year (adaa.org).

EVERYONE gets nervous from time to time. It is quite common for people to experience anxiety at different point in their lives.

For instance, anxiety is a very normal response to stressful life events like going on a job interview, getting married, having a baby, moving, changing jobs or having financial troubles. Anxiety is a natural reaction to a situation we perceive as stressful or dangerous.

But when does anxiety cross the line from normal anxiety into an anxiety disorder? When anxiety becomes larger than the events that triggered them and begin to interfere with your life, they could be signs of an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders can become debilitating, but they can be managed with proper help from a mental health professional.

Anxiety disorders are HIGHLY TREATABLE if you are willing to take the first step towards seeking help.

Anxiety disorders can take many forms. Below are some signs you should consider seeking help for your anxiety:

1)If it keeps you from doing things you enjoy. When your world is becoming smaller because of your anxiety, this is certainly a sign you should seek help. Do you want to travel but suddenly feel the urge to cancel your plans because you are scared? Or do you feel too anxious to even book a trip in the first place because you are afraid to board a plane or be away from the comforts of home? Or you can only go to the same place for vacation because anywhere new and unfamiliar leads to high anxiety? Maybe you want to visit your sister but she lives two hours away and you are afraid to drive there. If your anxiety is inhibiting your life, it may be time to seek out professional help.

2)You are exhausted. Constantly feeling tired is a sign your mind (and your worries) are in overdrive. Worrying can lead to the point of exhaustion. Being easily fatigued can be a telling sign your anxiety is getting out of hand.

3)It is impacting your career. If you are so anxious, it is impeding your ability to function at work, it is time to seek out help. What are some signs your anxiety is severe?If you are finding that you are missing many days from work, frequently calling in late because your anxiety is impeding your ability to leave the house, or having trouble performing the normal day-to-day tasks of your job, it may be time to seek out some support.

4)You are isolating yourself from others. Are you feeling such anxiety that you are avoiding parties, going out, or interacting with family and friends? If your social anxieties are leading to isolation, this is a problem. If the presence of other people cause you to worry, you may feel the need to avoid putting yourself in situations where you have to interact with others you do not feel comfortable with. This is a sign your anxiety can be spiraling out of control.

5)Your fears keep you from performing essential tasks. Do you hate crowds? Get anxious waiting on lines? If your anxiety is keeping you from food shopping or going out in public, this is a sign your anxiety is disproportionate to the situation. If you can not perform day-to-day tasks because of strong, unrelenting feelings of anxiety, it can be a sign of anxiety disorder.

6)You are having panic attacks. The hallmark of a panic attack is extreme fear typically accompanied by rapid heartbeat, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, chest tightness, nausea and fear of dying or losing control. Panic attacks can be terrifying. Counseling can help you figure out the situations, thoughts, or feelings that cause your attacks (your triggers).

7)The anxiety is ongoing. If you have been experiencing ongoing anxiety, it can be a sign of an anxiety disorder. Occasional anxiety is an expected part of life, ongoing anxiety is no,  unless it is circumstantial (you loss your job, getting a divorce, extenuating life circumstances that were unexpected, etc.).

8)You have physical symptoms–stomach aches, headaches, muscle tension, can’t sleep, dizziness, diarrhea, throwing up. Having physical symptoms on most days of the week is another frequent symptom of anxiety. There is no doubt that stress and anxiety can beat up your body. If your anxiety is causing you to become physically ill, you most certainly should seek out the care of a mental health professional.

9)Feeling irritable. Frequently, people with anxiety disorders experience excessive irritability.  Keep tabs on whether you’re blowing up at people or losing your cool. Do you let things that roll off other people’s back make you flip out? Are you unable to manage and control your emotions? It can be a sign you are emotionally dysregulated. Anger and irritability can be a sign of anxiety.

10)Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Sleep disturbances are strongly associated with anxiety disorders. Perhaps your mind starts racing as soon as your head hits the pillow. You’re thinking about your never-ending to-do list, that thing you should (or shouldn’t) have said at work, or how expensive your taxes are going to be this quarter. Then you catch a glimpse of the clock, and realize how late it already is which only further escalates your anxiety. Anxiety can lead to insomnia. If your anxiety is causing you to be restless and unable to get a good night’s sleep, you should speak to your doctor.

11)Your anxiety is impacting your relationships. Constant worry manifesting as any of the following: jealousy towards your spouse, your children becoming anxious themselves because you are rubbing off on them,  acting controlling towards others to mitigate your own anxious feelings,  avoiding friends and family at social events, and communication problems with others are ALL signs your anxiety has escalated to the point of a disorder. The good thing to know is that once treatment for anxiety is underway these relationship issues do improve as well.

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12)Using alcohol or drugs to self-medicate. Are you drinking more than usual? Popping pills to numb yourself out (especially if it not your prescription)? Many people who are suffering from severe anxiety will use drugs or alcohol to self-treat their anxiety symptoms.

If you are relating to many of the aforementioned signs, keep in mind, that anxiety is a very treatable disorder.

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If anxiety is interfering with your life, whatever they may mean to you, that is reason enough to speak with a mental health professional.

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If you anxiety is causing you suffering, you DESERVE to get help.

To schedule a counseling session with me (AND if you are a reader who lives in New Jersey):

https://anewcounselingservices.com/erin-theodorou%2Cm-ed-%2C-lpc

Erin Doyle Theodorou, M.Ed, LPC, NCC

Anew Counseling Services LLC

617 Oradell Avenue, Suite 3, Oradell, New Jersey, 07649

(551) 795-3822

etheodorou@anewcounselingservices.com

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counseling, psychology, self-help

Panic Attacks: When We Fear Our Fear

Imagine…your heart is pounding. You suddenly feel like you can’t breathe. You wonder if you are dying and feel like you are going CRAZY.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what it feels like to have a panic attack.

panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause. Panic attacks can be very frightening. When panic attacks occur, you might think you’re losing control, having a heart attack or even dying.

What You Feel

A panic attack means you experience some of these following symptoms (from WebMD):

  • Feel like you’re losing control or going crazy
  • Pounding heart
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • An out-of-body sensation
  • Like you’re choking
  • A fear that you’re dying
  • Tingling or numb hands, arms, feet, or legs

While extremely unpleasant, panic attacks are NOT life threatening.

As a clinician, I can see the anxiety become palpable as my clients describe this debilitating disorder to me in great detail. Panic disorder has a way of making someone live in terror of the next attack. You see the thing about people who suffer from panic disorder is they begin to fear their fear. A panic attack is an extreme form of fear that causes physical and physiological symptoms. But a panic attack is not physically or medically dangerous. You are not in ANY danger of dying when you suffer from a panic attack but in that moment you truly may think you are dying. It is THAT psychological painful.

Panic attacks can lead you to constrict your life out of fear of having an attack in a place where you perceive there to be NO escape. Unfortunately, when I work with people who suffer from panic disorder, I often see symptoms of agoraphobia present as well. I will see people refuse to drive, refuse to leave their house without a “safe” person with them (someone they can turn to for help if a panic attack arises), struggle with social situations out of fear of having an attack in front of people, refuse to be in crowded places such as malls and concerts, and be afraid of any activity that reminds them even remotely of their panic attacks.

This is no way to live.

Panic disorder is NOT a life sentence.

People who struggle with this disorder start to limit their worlds: being particular with where they will go and what they will do. They try to be as “safe” as humanly possible.

Vigorous exercise may become a no go because the rising heart rate reminds them of their last panic attack when their chest was POUNDING. Caffeine is treated like it is poison because of the jittery, sweaty, high blood pressure feeling it produces which brings about a flashback of their last panic attack. Going into a hot tub and starting to sweat? No way—I can pass out in here and drown, they may tell them self.

One’s thoughts become increasingly irrational with panic disorder.

Anything that produces symptoms similar to a panic attack (increased heart rate, sweating, shortness of breath) will be avoided at all cost. Driving on the highway where you can’t get off an exit for another THIRTY miles? NO WAY. I am not getting STUCK.

The thing is the fear of being stuck and or in a place of no escape is a form of “internal” claustrophobia~existing in one’s mind and not in the external world.

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You see panic disorder and agoraphobia go hand-in-hand.

IF you suffer from panic attacks on the regular, you may begin to fear you have will have another attack at the worst possible moment. In the middle of a presentation at work, waiting on-line at the store, driving on a bridge, flying where there is no perceived escape, at a social gathering–embarrassing yourself in front of many with nowhere to hide….

These fears can be so powerful you can begin to plan your life around them—allowing your range of experiences to become smaller and smaller. Your world becomes limited.

What can you do if you suffer from panic attacks?

Consider seeking treatment immediately. This is not something you should struggle through on your own. Counseling can help you with coping skills, relaxation techniques, and help you become cognizant of how one’s thoughts can amp up our body’s fight/flight response.

You see a panic attack is a response to something we view as threatening–even if in actual there is NO REAL DANGER FACING US. We can be triggered by other people, certain places, or the mere thought of facing down our fear.

During a panic attack, our body’s alarm response is triggered even in the absence of real danger.

Remember, you can overcome your panic disorder. When we avoid panic or treat it like our enemy, it will in turn ONLY get stronger. Don’t run away from that which you fear–it will only strengthen it. Accepting you struggle with anxiety is the first step to becoming better.

Acceptance drops our resistance.

Be gentle and kind to yourself. Don’t judge and criticize yourself for panicking. This will only make your more susceptible to an attack.  YOU ARE NOT WEAK.

This disorder is HIGHLY responsive to treatment. Taking care of your mental health should always be a top priority. 

And remember…this too shall pass. What you resist will persist. Do not try to fight the feelings of anxiety and panic.

Stay calm.

Breath through the thoughts and feelings.

Remember: 1) You are not going to die; 2) This is a panic attack and it WILL end — it will not go on forever; 3) Work to calm your baseline anxiety which will help reduce the severity and the duration of the panic attack — going to a quiet place, focusing on regulating your breathing, stating over and over again, even if you don’t believe it, “I will be okay, this too shall pace, I am safe.”

You WILL come out on the other side.

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Below I share with you a TED talk from my fellow UDEL alum, Summer Beretsky, on the struggle of dealing with anxiety & panic disorder.

 

To schedule a counseling session with me (AND if you are a reader who lives in New Jersey):

https://anewcounselingservices.com/erin-theodorou%2Cm-ed-%2C-lpc

Anew Counseling Services LLC

617 Oradell Avenue, Suite 3, Oradell, New Jersey, 07649

(551) 795-3822
etheodorou@anewcounselingservices.com