Anxiety is often come to be seen as “normal”- if you’re not “stressed out” then you’re just not pushing it to the edge. You’re not working hard enough. We are often rewarded for stress- it’s seen as a drive to succeed and a necessary evil to make it to the top.
But how much stress is too much stress? And what’s the difference between “stress” and “anxiety” anyway?
As with our piece on depression yesterday, our take home message is this:
If you are concerned, questioning, or don’t know where to begin, stop your online searching and go talk to a doctor.
Feelings of Anxiety are nothing to be ashamed about, are not a sign of weakness, and should not be ignored. We at QWELL are here to bridge the gaps between patients and doctors, and serve as a safe place where people can know that they are not alone.
There are resources abound to help people deal with symptoms of stress and anxiety, and you don’t need to be sure of what you’re dealing with before seeking help.
Take yourself to your primary care doctor and tell them what you’re experiencing. Make an appointment with your doctor or your child’s doctor and go in to talk about what’s going on. If you have an inkling that something is not right, you are probably on to something and should get guidance.
But back to the facts:
What is Stress?
Stress is the body’s normal response to change, both positive and negative. Sometimes stress can be good- think of the “fight or flight” phenomenon that helped our ancestors outrun lions in the wilderness. When the body’s normal response to new situations is activated again and again, this is when stress can begin to be harmful to our bodies.
Body or Brain?
Prolonged stress can cause serious physical manifestations if left untreated. Some signs of stress include the following:
-high blood pressure
-memory problems & difficulty with focusing
-frequent illnesses like colds and viruses
That Sounds Like ME!
OK- so we’ve all experience anxiety. There’s probably not one of us out there who hasn’t had one of the symptoms above. But how do we know if this stress we’re experiencing is ok or not ok? Before we get to that, let’s learn a little about Anxiety Disorder.
What is an Anxiety Disorder?
The terms anxiety and stress are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Anxiety can be thought of as stress gone rogue. Stress that seems unremitting, uncontrollable, and that interferes with your daily functioning could be an Anxiety Disorder.
Anxiety Disorders are the most common mental health disorder in America, affecting 40 million people every year. They are highly treatable, yet only about a third of those with anxiety disorders get help.
People who experience Anxiety Disorders may have the following symptoms:
-rapid heart rate
-feelings of fear or nervousness
-feeling of panic, doom, or danger
-stomach problems- can’t fall asleep or wake up too early
-avoidance of things that make you anxious
-constant thoughts about what’s making you anxious and inability to control those thoughts
-phobias- fears of specific things- spiders, being around people, going in elevators, germs etc…
So how do I know the difference?
Warning signs of an Anxiety Disorder :
-Constant fears that interfere with your daily functioning
-Irrational fears that you can’t make “go away”
-Fears that lead you to avoid people, places, or experiences
-Sudden onset of feelings of panic
-Flashbacks or nightmares
What can be done?
The good news is, whether you are experiencing high levels of stress or an Anxiety Disorder, you can be helped.
Anxiety Disorders are highly treatable. We’ll spend some time later this month exploring some of the standard modalities along with some innovations in the field in greater depth, but for now here are the basics:
Treatment for Stress and Anxiety include the following 3 modalities:
Psychotherapy and counseling
Stress management techniques
The thing is, you don’t need to have an “Anxiety Disorder” to benefit from treatment. Many people who are experiencing stress would benefit from treatment, even if they don’t carry an official diagnosis of Anxiety. As you can see, medication is only one part of treatment. Many people with anxiety get help without medication, but a medical provider will best be able to evaluate and come up with a plan of action for you.
So don’t delay. Get talking to someone who has experience in treating people with anxiety. Book an appointment online today.
-to your Primary Care Doctor or therapist. They can distinguish between stress and anxiety, treat your symptoms, and help you understand your options and direct you to the best care. If you don’t have a PCP, find one on QWELL
-a local group for people living with anxiety. Here are some suggestions:
Meet ups: World wide groups for people w anxiety — over 1100 groups with over 400,000 members
-about stress reduction techniques. Here are some suggestions:
Here’s to getting healthy and staying healthy with Qwell.
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