If you’ve ever wondered if you have anxiety, you’re not alone. Most people experience anxiety at some time in their lives. But if your anxiety significantly impacts your life or causes you a lot of distress, you might have an anxiety disorder. Here are some signs:
- Do you worry a lot of the time? Worrying about the future, the past, your loved ones, and worrying most of the day, more days than not, for at least six months is a sign of anxiety.
- Do you have trouble sleeping? Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep is another sign of anxiety.
- Do you have physical symptoms such as muscle tension in your neck or back, stomach problems, jaw pain, or headaches? Some people manifest anxiety as physical symptoms more than psychological symptoms.
- Do you have specific fears that impact your life in significant ways? If you find yourself avoiding groups of people, parties, certain jobs, or other social situations, you might have social anxiety. Phobias can also be disruptive if you find yourself avoiding what it is your afraid of or enduring it with intense anxiety.
- Do you find yourself having obsessive thoughts or behaviors such as checking things a certain number of time or washing your hands repeatedly? Obsessions and compulsions can be a sign of an anxiety disorder if they take up more than an hour of your time a day.
If any of these general signs of anxiety cause a significant impact on your life, your relationships, or your job, you might consider meeting with a therapist to find out if therapy can help. In my office, I find that a tool-box approach seems to be the most helpful, tailored to each client’s particular type of anxiety symptoms.
One of the first things I do for almost all of my anxious clients is to lead them through a 5-minute centering exercise which I record for them to use at home. This short exercise helps to you to feel grounded in the here and now, focusing on your breath and your immediate auditory and physical sensations, what it is you are afraid of, and your values and commitments. Other types of exercises, such as progressive relaxation and mindfulness, are also incorporated into therapy.
Talk therapy is an important part of the treatment for anxiety. In my office, I take a careful history and an inventory of what’s going on at work and home; this can bring to light possible trauma, relationship problems, or grief that will need to be explored and processed. Relevant solutions can be approached, such as the need for closer relationships, more interesting work, an exercise program, griefwork, treatment for addictions, or possibility of anxiety medicine.
Determining if you might have an anxiety disorder is the first step toward healing and growth. The next step is talking with a qualified therapist and discussing the possibility of psychological treatment or counseling.