When we realize that we are knee deep in anxiety, the next question that hopefully comes to our minds is “How can I find some help for this struggle?
Dealing with anxiety is not a journey that we are meant to walk alone. As much as we may want to slug it out on our own and just deal with our fears ourselves, odds are we will do much better in our efforts to heal our anxiety if we allow others to help us.
I know that this is scary and can feel like weakness or failure on our part.
(at least this is how I sometimes feel).
But you are NOT weak nor a failure to ask for and receive help.
As people we were made to need each other, made to be in community. This is one of the ways our anxiety can actually be a gift in that it demands that stubborn, independent people let others into their lives and inner selves.
If you are dealing with anxiety, I sincerely hope that you have at least one or two trusted family members or friends with whom you can talk about your struggle. If this is not true then I highly recommend that you make finding those people a priority.
This is a little tricky because not everyone is going to be a good companion for your anxiety journey. You need to find someone with sensitivity and compassion, and ideally someone who has struggled with a similar issue before. At the very least avoid the people who are dismissive to you, telling you to just get over it. And certainly avoid the folks who may have helped cause your anxiety to begin with.
If after searching through your friends and family no one comes to mind as a partner, then I would go up the ladder a little. If you have a trusted faith leader, make an appointment to talk with her/him. If you are at a school with a counseling center, seek out their services.
Another great person to check in with is your regular doctor. As we talked about yesterday, anxiety is a body event. Not only can your doctor help refer you to other resources such as counselors or psychiatrists in your area, but s/he can also talk with you about the ways your anxiety may be affecting your physical self.
Speaking of counselors and psychiatrists,these are two main resources that you may want to consider in treating your anxiety. When I have been the most flared up, I have used the two in tandem and found good results. Taking medication is a step not everyone will want to or need to take. But know the option is there. If you are on medication, it is often recommended that you pair it with therapy so that you can begin to make some of the lifestyle and cognitive changes that will keep your anxiety at bay.
I know these are personal choices and not everyone has the availability or financial resources to receive a host of help. But if you have insurance, you can find the mental health number on the back of your card and find out how the policy you pay good money for monthly can help you receive the treatment you need.
I am not a physician nor a therapist. So all advice below and in any of these blogs merely comes from my experience as a person with an anxiety disorder. Also, I am married to a therapist who happens to work in a psychiatric office, so I am a bit biased toward both fields. In all cases, please check in with your physician and or mental health professional to form the best treatment plan for you.
Therapy is often the first intervention that people with anxiety seek. Again, if you have insurance you can call the number on the back and find a list of preferred providers in your area. I would also suggest asking for recommendations for good therapists from friends, doctors, clergy, etc. You and your therapist will be talking about a lot of personal issues, so it helps if you find someone with whom you have a good fit. This person can be a great cheerleader and guide while you work on changing your anxious patterns of thinking. But for some reason if you just don’t click with your therapist after a few visits, it may be worth it to seek someone else with whom you can trust and connect as your undertake this process together.
If you cannot commit to regular therapy for some reason, there are some good resources out there you can read on your own that may help. Bourne’s Anxiety and Phobia Workbook is a classic with tons of helpful information. The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook is another popular resource that would take you through helpful practices such as mindfulness meditation and relaxation techniques that are proven to reduce anxiety.
Along with therapy, you may need medication to get your anxiety under control. This is a hard one for me as I hate taking medicine and in fact have a fear of going on new medicines because of experiences with side effects. Many times I have taken the route of exercise, yoga, therapy, and other self care practices to get me through a season of anxiety without medication. But if my anxiety really flares over a period of time, there comes a point when I know that my brain chemicals are so out of whack that I will need medication to calm me down enough to allow therapy and other practices to do their work of healing my anxiety.
When I have been treated pharmacologically, I have usually gone on an SSRI that eases anxiety (Paxil, Zoloft, etc). Also I’vd taken a benzodiazapine (Xanax, Klonopin) at the front end while the SSRI is getting on board good. I only use tranquilizing later for emergencies. As with all medications, these do have their side effects. But over the years the drugs have gotten better and your doctor can usually help you pick a good medication(s) whose benefits will outweigh the side effects.
As to who gives you the medication, it could come either from your general doctor or a psychiatrist. I have tended to use a psychiatrist as I have had access to good ones and had insurance that covers it. If this is not the case for you, you could talk to your GP and see if s/he is comfortable setting up a treatment plan for you.
Even with all this help, your anxiety will not get better overnight. It will take time and some work, but it is possible to recover from anxiety. Try and be patient with yourself as you find the right companions in terms of people and possibly drugs to help you in your healing. If your first efforts don’t succeed, don’t give up! Keep trying until you find the right team to help you on your journey of recovery.
I wish you much grace as you take the steps to find help.
I would love to hear how others have found help for their anxiety. What had brought relief for you?