Since symptoms of anxiety aren’t always obvious, many people are not aware of the immense social cost of leaving anxiety untreated. Consider all of the home makers who never leave their homes because of a fear of getting into a fatal car crash, students who can’t complete their work because of rituals and obsessions, and athletes who can’t run out of their fear of death. Many of these people do not try to get help. They diminish the seriousness of their anxiety, not realizing how it will affect them in the long run.
In anxiety, as in most disorders, many people defer treatment as much as possible. This causes the disorder to worsen and makes the individual more stressed. The longer the disease has been present, the more of an influence it has on you. This is why early treatment is crucial. Treating anxiety early stops it from getting in the way of daily life and becoming a disability.
Anxiety Disorders from a Clinical Standpoint
Anxiety is usually a sensation that enhances preparations for action and permits a better daily adjustment. The symptoms that come with anxiety, including shortness of breath, heart palpitations, abdominal distress and feelings of impending doom can be severe enough to require medical treatment. Anxiety symptoms are among the most common seen in emergency services.Anxiety disorders are also some of the best known of all mental health disorders. In psychiatric clinics, anxiety and depressive disorders may affect one half of the patients attending. Up to half of the patients diagnosed with anxiety may also suffer from depression. The combination of the two illnesses is common in both monopolar depression, bipolar depression, and an array of anxiety disorders. Studies of patients with anxiety show that the symptoms often start early in life, occur more frequently in the same family, tend to interfere with work and family life, and respond to adequate treatment.
Why You Shouldn’t be Afraid to Open Up
Simply put, healthcare professionals want to help you get rid of problematic anxiety symptoms so that you can be happy and successful. Understand that professional help is administered by those who have been trained by senior mental health experts, and have devoted their lives to helping you get better. You cannot find this type of compassion from casual advice from a friend or an online article.
There are a myriad of reasons why patients hide their issues. People are often afraid to talk because they fear they have a severe or incurable disease, they are afraid they are going to “lose their mind,” or they are worried that they will need hospital treatment. Some people in our very competitive society see symptoms of anxiety as a sign of weakness and fear harsh judgment from others. This can be especially true in certain ethnic groups or among military servicemembers.
It is surprising to some that there are people in families with anxiety disorders who reject the existence of the problem and refuse to speak about it even when they themselves are in treatment. Most people fear having to talk about themselves.
I most commonly see fears of loss of control, being considered weak, or becoming sicker as reasons why not to voice concerns over one’s anxiety issues. These fears are generally not justified in anxiety disorders. But to the contrary, many families are very open about the problem and willing to discuss it when the patient shows changes in behavior, performance or interest in others.
Before seeking professional help, many try to treat themselves. However, self-administered therapy is generally based on a limited personal perception. Online research and free resources cannot assess all the aspects of a situation, nor offer all the options for treatment.
Why Find a Therapist?
A good understanding of a problem is the first step towards a solution. In psychiatry, many treatments are adjusted to the needs of individual patients. Psychiatrists try to extract as much initial information they can from patients so that they can better design treatment for the individual. Better details lead to better results. This is why the first few visits can be tedious. But just understand that your doctor just wants to be precise with your treatment.
Treatment often includes psychotherapy and psychotropic medications, and should be individually tailored to the patient’s needs. If you find that your therapist fails to address all of your issues, or is not open to trying a variety of methods to find what works for you, then you should consider working with someone else. There is no universally successful strategy and you deserve the opportunity to find one that works for you.
A patient should choose the therapist he or she feels most comfortable with. This can be a long process, as patients often try multiple therapists before finding the right one. Although this can be a stressful and trying process, always remember that with high risk comes high reward.
Dr. Rodrigo Muñoz, 127th President of the American Psychiatric Association, is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California San Diego. Based in San Diego, California, he also runs a private practice. Originally from Colombia, he completed medical studies at the University of Cauca and underwent multiple residencies in the US. Dr. Muñoz is lauded for his dedication to mental healthcare, earning various honors and awards from prestigious medical associations.