Anxiety is a normal healthy emotion that protects you from danger; however, when anxiety occurs every day in non-threatening scenarios, it can wreak havoc on your life. If you have an anxiety disorder, you may excessively worry over the slightest triggers, fear venturing into crowded places, or avoid social situations out of fear something terrible may happen. Anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental health illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults. Although anxiety disorders are highly treatable, most individuals do not seek treatment. Everyday anxiety can keep you safe, but when anxiety begins to take over your life, you risk going down a dangerous slippery slope. Below are a few things therapists wish everyone knew about anxiety.
High-Functioning Anxiety Is Neither Productive nor Healthy
Many individuals with high functioning anxiety feel they can hide it or use it best to their advantage. Working longer hours, striving towards perfectionism, multitasking, maintaining a rigid schedule, staying extremely organized, and having a boost of confidence can all seem like great qualities on the surface. Still, over time these high-functioning anxiety traits will catch up to you. Many individuals with high-functioning anxiety use their anxiety to advance in their careers or strive toward a personal goal; however, these individuals are still dealing with all the signs and symptoms associated with anxiety. Trying to hide these symptoms is exhausting. High-functioning anxiety is not a healthy, sustainable way to live, and it is essential to talk to a therapist to find healthier ways to cope.
Your Anxiety Is Not Rational
Usually, anxiety is a natural, reasonable reaction to a dangerous and irrational trigger or event. However, individuals with anxiety disorders have an internal faulty alarm system, meaning they will have irrational anxiety in non-threatening situations. These individuals will excessively worry over everyday occurrences such as traffic, dirty dishes, work deadlines, or social situations. They may even feel as though their life is in danger. Understanding that your brain and body are overreacting to a harmless situation is essential. Therapy can teach you to use healthy coping skills to move forward and tolerate the distress from these situations.
Your Environment Can Be a Trigger
Maybe you work in a crowded office, sit in traffic for hours daily, spend too much time at home, or are exposed to stressful situations (example: college student or first responders). Your environment can fuel your anxiety, and you may not realize it until you change your environment, even if it is for short periods. Switching up your daily routine, spending more time outdoors, changing your work setting, or finding soothing coping mechanisms to help you when you are stuck in a stressful environment can change how you feel. For example, go for a walk if you find yourself anxious while sitting at home. If you find your office too crowded, see if you can work from home for a couple of days or work in a quieter setting. If you find yourself stuck in traffic, consider taking public transport or changing your routine so you can avoid commuting in traffic. One major takeaway from attending therapy is that you will come to learn your triggers and develop solutions to adjust better; one is changing your environment.
Everyone’s Anxiety Is Different
You are a unique individual, and therefore your anxiety will manifest in ways that are different compared to others. Your signs and symptoms, triggers, and treatment approaches will differ from those of your neighbor, co-worker, or friend. As a result, it is essential to avoid comparing yourself to others when it comes to your anxiety. Instead, develop a solid therapeutic alliance with your therapist, have a reliable support system in place, and recognize that although anxiety disorders are prevalent, your treatment approach may be unique.
If you are struggling with anxiety or panic attacks, seek professional help immediately. When left untreated, anxiety can cause hardships in relationships and the workplace which can contribute to substance use disorders and other mental health disorders.
AKUA Mind and Body Treatment
AKUA Mind and Body is a full-service treatment program. AKUA offers a wide range of “east meets west” treatment modalities for many different populations struggling with mental health and substance use disorders. AKUA makes your recovery a priority. AKUA Mind and Body treats co-occurring disorders and works diligently with each client and their family to ensure that treatment is specifically tailored to their needs and not just their disorder.
AKUA Mind and Body offers detoxification, intensive treatment programs, gender-specific facilities, outpatient, and virtual treatment programs. AKUA Mind and Body uses a blend of holistic approaches combined with evidence-based treatment to help individuals who have been affected by substance use and mental health disorders to recognize their underlying triggers and develop healthy coping skills. Regardless of where you are in your recovery process, AKUA Mind and Body can help.