Everyone experiences a certain amount of anxiety from time to time. After all, this normal “fight or flight” emotion is a part of your body’s routine response to stressful situations that call for extra attention or precaution.
But when anxiety becomes so persistent that it interferes with your life, those worrisome or fearful feelings are no longer normal — they’re a sign that you may be living with an anxiety disorder.
As the most common form of mental illness in the United States, anxiety disorders affect some 40 million Americans, or nearly one in five adults, at any given time. Living with an untreated anxiety disorder can have far-reaching effects ranging from an increased risk of depression to a greater chance of developing insomnia, heart disease, digestive problems, chronic pain, and more.
For as serious as persistent anxiety can be, however, fewer than two in five adults who live with the problem decide to seek treatment. This may be because having a certain amount of anxiety doesn’t necessarily seem unreasonable, even when it significantly impacts your life.
Here at The Soho Center for Mental Health Counseling, we know just how beneficial the right treatment approach can be in helping people with anxiety disorders manage their worries, fears, or phobias and lead normal, productive lives. If you’re not sure whether you should seek treatment for persistent anxiety, here are a few indications that your problem may warrant professional help.
Your anxiety interferes with your daily life
A generalized anxiety disorder typically involves persistent and excessive worry about normal, everyday things like job responsibilities, personal health, family issues, or routine activities like chores or appointments.
People with generalized anxiety often feel irritable, out of control, and unable to effectively engage in productive, positive, or meaningful actions in their day-to-day lives. Besides being difficult to control, this type of anxiety is often out of proportion to the actual circumstances, causing a degree of distress that’s far more intense than what most people experience when faced with the same worries.
Left untreated, these excessive daily worries can lead to restlessness, unrelenting fatigue, poor concentration, increased muscle tension, and insomnia. If this sounds familiar, it’s time to talk to a professional.
Your anxiety impacts your physical health
While you may think of anxiety as psychological problem that gives rise to intense worry or fear, that’s just half the story. Whenever you react to a situation with feelings of anxiety, your response has psychological as well as physical features.
The immediate physical features of an anxiety response may include a rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, heightened muscular tension, lightheadedness, nausea, and even chest pain. When anxiety becomes the norm, its physical effects can become amplified and trigger or exacerbate all sorts of health problems, ranging from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to chronic migraines.
If your anxiety seems to pave the way for chronic digestive problems, headaches, or any other physical ailment, seeking professional help is the best way to address the psychological aspects of your problem so you can remedy its physical consequences.
Your anxiety strains your relationships
If you have an anxiety disorder, chances are you do your best to avoid any situation that will trigger feelings of anxiety or make them worse. No matter the nature of your anxiety, extreme or ongoing avoidance behaviors can take a major toll on your personal relationships, particularly if your partner, family, friends, and other important people in your life don’t understand the extent of your problem or how it impacts you.
Whether high anxiety levels make you avoid social situations, keep you from forming new relationships, or strain the relationships you already have, the right treatment approach can give you the tools you need to manage your problem and get more out of life.
Your anxiety makes you feel depressed
Anxiety and depression often go hand-in-hand: Almost half of all adults who are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder also have some type of depressive disorder.
As a mood disorder, depression can have a powerful, negative effect on how you feel, what you think, and the way you behave. People living with depression often find that, much like anxiety, it interferes with their ability to perform tasks and get through their normal daily routine.
If living with anxiety leaves you feeling empty, hopeless, worthless, disinterested, or sad, it’s time to seek professional help. Left untreated, depression can lead to a variety of physical, emotional, and behavioral problems that can take a further toll on your health, leaving you at an increased risk of social isolation and suicide.
The compassionate team of mental health professionals at The Soho Center for Mental Health Counseling wants you to know that no matter how severe or disabling your anxiety may feel, anxiety is a highly treatable problem.
If you’re ready to trade your anxiety for a normal, productive life, call our New York City office today or use our easy online tool to schedule an appointment at any time.
Kira auf der Heide