With social media and an increasingly performative society, words associated with mental health are now often misused and even overused. Is everyone with sweaty palms and butterflies in their stomach plagued with anxiety? Or are we, as humans, quick to label conditions and illnesses based on healthy and normal emotions essential for growth?
Chances are, you clicked on this article to understand if you have an anxiety disorder or if these nervous feelings are normal. This article is crafted to help you answer this very question, and whether or not it is the time to ask for professional help.
Let’s start with the formal definition of an anxiety disorder as described by the American Psychological Association. They define anxiety as “persistent and excessive worry that interferes with daily activity". This could be accompanied by physical symptoms such as shaking, vomiting, insomnia, and more. An anxiety disorder is more than just moments of nervousness, but feelings that linger for an extended period of time.
So, you must be thinking, “Dr. Attli, do I have anxiety and when should I ask for help?”. Here are 4 key points that indicate it's time for you to ask for help. Please note, that this article is purely for educational content and that if you are concerned about having anxiety, then you should connect with your doctor.
Sign #1 - If your anxious and nervous feelings linger for an extended period of time, it is time to seek help.
Let’s say you come across a rather triggering event, and all of a sudden, you’re feeling overcome with a wave of scary and confusing emotions. You’re uncomfortable, fidgeting, scared, and wondering why your stomach keeps churning. After a few hours, and a goodnight’s sleep, you wake up and feel much better. You did not allow your emotions to control you and you sat with the discomfort. This described situation is not an anxiety disorder. However, if you wake up and the feelings are still there and even continue past two weeks, then might be time to seek professional help.
Sign #2 - If you are trying to occupy your mind and body with more positive thoughts and activities, but you still drift back to that anxious state, it is time to seek help.
With all this bottled up nervousness and stress, you might try to get active, add a healthy food item to boost brain optimization, or you might decide to go to the movies with some friends. You try to encourage positive thinking and reaffirm a healthy mindset and lifestyle by engaging in activities that are good for you. If all these efforts to position yourself in a positive state of mind do not work, it might be time to seek help.
Sign #3 - Your feelings go from zero to one hundred real fast.
Let’s pretend you were on a walk in the park, and all of a sudden you feel a pang in your chest, your head spins, and your breathing becomes shallow. You’re feeling intense panic for no reason at all. It literally makes you feel like you are having a heart attack. It doesn’t make sense how one second you felt completely fine and the next, you found a park bench to sit on to avoid fainting. This is a clear indication that there might be something wrong. Emotions shouldn’t be fluctuating between extremes. It is unhealthy and exhausting for both our minds and bodies.
Sign #4 - You are constantly doubting if you can handle your emotions by yourself.
If you reach a point where you are doubting yourself, and whether or not you should take that initial step towards seeking professional or familial help, then take the step. Trust your intuition when your mind, soul, and body are signalling for help. Do not avoid it. There is nothing defeating or embarrassing about asking for the tools and the space to move towards a healthier lifestyle.
Next time you are feeling intense emotions, let yourself sit in their discomfort and see if the feelings past. A lot of us don't give ourselves the opportunity to grow through uncomfortable emotions.
However, if you start to notice your thoughts & emotions impacting your day-day life, it's time to get help. If at any point you are even questioning "hmmmm...should I get help?", then it's time to get help.
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