Everyone knows what anxiety feels like and a lot of people know what it's like to feel very anxious. What may be less clear is the tipping point between what is normal and acceptable and when it's time to seek help? In this Sharepost I've outlined a few questions to ask yourself in relation to your experience of anxiety or fears.
- Do you experience episodes of intense fear that arise quickly and linger for at least 10 minutes or more?
- Do any of these episodes cause you to feel great distress?
- Do you avoid certain places or situations as a result of these episodes?
- Do you try to conceal your situation from others?
- Do other people find your situation distressing, annoying or in some way disruptive?
- Do you worry about the implications of your anxiety and fears for your health?
- Do you feel your work or other activities are being affected by the way you feel?
- Do any of these episodes come out of the blue and without warning?
If you have answered yes to one or more of these then you probably do need help. The questions focus on some of the key emotional and behavioral components associated with panic disorder. If you have answered yes, the chances are you've answered yes to more than one of the questions, and possibly even all of them.
Recognizing you have a problem is a big first step but doing something about it can feel even harder. It's important to appreciate that health professionals understand your problem and that they are skilled in the treatment of panic and other anxiety disorders. A word of caution at this point. Before consulting a psychologist you should first pay a visit to your family doctor. Anxiety and related conditions can result from certain medical conditions that have no particular symptoms but can be detected from blood tests. Your doctor will probably want to rule these out first.
Your doctor may then suggest a psychologist or refer you to one for treatment. If he or she seems unfamiliar with the range of therapists locally available you can fairly easily establish this for yourself. The American Psychological Association maintain a database of therapists (http://locator.apa.org/). Similarly, the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies have a find a therapist locator (http://cbtregisteruk.com/) on their site. The very first step in the process will be a full assessment of your situation and your symptoms, after which a treatment plan will be drawn up.
Published On: February 20, 2011