Now more than ever before, there’s more attention being paid to the mental health of individuals. For that reason, there’s lots of discussion surrounding depression, bi-polar disorder, and anxiety. It’s admirable that society is working so hard to remove the stigma surrounding mental illness. What was once something that sent you to the mental hospital if you dared to admit incongruent thoughts with the rest of society’s status quo, is now something that’s taken seriously and given the respect it deserves.
However, the biggest leap of faith is still something that is required on the part of the patient. After all, what’s the difference between depression that you can handle on your own, and depression that you need someone else’s help for? This goes for all mental illnesses. Since it’s your mind, you can’t tell if this pain you’ve been experiencing is more or less than the average individual, and that inherently makes it more difficult to navigate when it’s time to call a doctor and seek help. But, the truly tricky part is there is no simple answer to that question. You’ll have to be the one to decide when you’re ready to seek help. If you need help looking for those signs in yourself, read on.
Don’t Underestimate Yourself
With many mental illnesses, there’s a huge range of people who have them, and they all have them in a different way. Lots of mental illnesses are really just one part of how your mind works being used too much. For example, depression is a natural part of the human experience. Sometimes, you feel sad, you don’t want to do anything and you feel helpless. How long that lasts is the differentiating quality, but it’s not the only thing that can help you tell the difference. Like depression, anxiety is something that is a part of everyone’s life, but some people have it to a different degree than their peers do, and they experience that same chemical reaction in their brain differently and on a different time scale.
Anxiety, in its most simple terms, is your brain perceiving danger or reason for stress, when perhaps there is none. Your brain’s hypothalamus then triggers your nervous system to release adrenaline and the stress hormone you likely already know by the name of cortisol. When we lived in little hunting and gathering packs, this response in the brain was a crucial part of survival. It gave you the extra energy to sprint away from danger, it gave you the boost in strength to pull the big predatory cat away from the rest of the tribe. Nowadays, those same hormones that are meant for surviving out in the wilderness get triggered when something at stressful at work happens and the worst part is that you can’t get those chemicals out of your system, because there is no cat to run away from, there’s only the reality of having to face that problem again in the office tomorrow.
Now, that stress hormone, cortisol, is a taxing chemical. It wasn’t designed to be soaking into your brain on a super regular basis. So, those long-term side effects of stress start to take their toll on a daily basis. It’s distracting, and those anxiety-induced thoughts often make people rash or paralyzed and that’s not a good state of mind to be in at any stage of life. Thus, if you suspect your stress levels and the anxiety at the root of those issues are causing you strife, it’s important to seek help to avoid long-term damage to your body.
The Types of Anxiety Disorders
There are numerous types of anxiety disorder, and the best place to start figuring out if you need treatment for your anxiety symptoms starts with being familiar with the different forms it can take.
General anxiety disorder, also known as GAD, can be described as “having excessive worries and fears for months.” This affects around 6.8 million people in the U.S. every year. Alternatively, “panic disorder,” which is often viewed as another type of anxiety disorder is classified as “spontaneous bouts of crippling fear,” known as panic attacks. This is often accompanied by intense worry associated with when the next panic attack will come along. There’s also social anxiety disorder which is also classified as a social phobia. This is characterized by a “marked fear of social situations where you might feel judged or rejected.” These issues are often complimented by symptoms like trembling, sweating, nausea and intense or persistent blushing. Most people don’t realize it, but OCD and PTSD are also types of anxiety disorders as they’re simply classified as when the brain misfires stress hormones unnecessarily. Many people feel that they can either control their anxiety or rather should be able to. Others feel a sense of shame surrounding their inability to control these issues. None of these helpless feelings need to continue though.
When to See A Mental Health Professional?
If you’ve experienced the above symptoms and you’re ready to no longer experience those symptoms, it’s time to seek help. If you ever feel that your life, or the lifestyle you want to have, is limited by your anxiety symptoms, it’s likely time to seek help.
Common signs of when it’s likely time to see a psychologist to help with your anxiety:
- You avoid things you love doing because of anxiety
- You skip school or work because of anxiety
- You can’t get enough sleep because of anxiety
- Anxiety over tasks leads to procrastination that can be harmful to your well being
- You’re blowing up at people for no reason
- You notice irritable bowel symptoms
- You feel constantly fatigued
- And other symptoms
If you’re concerned your anxiety is making it hardware for your function on a day-to-day basis, it’s time to get the help you need. Wendy Iglehart is a practiced psychotherapist that can help you start to develop coping mechanisms for your anxiety. No one should live with stress hormones interrupting their sleep, their lives, and their relationships all the time. Wendy has experience dealing with anxiety disorders and can help tailor a healing system to your specific needs. Reach out today to schedule an initial consultation or appointment with Wendy in Cockeysville now.