Takeaway: Everyone experiences stress and worry from time to time, but if it feels like your anxiety rules your life, it may be time to get help. In this post, we lay out everything you need to know about when to start seeing a therapist for anxiety, as well as when to see a psychiatrist for anxiety (and what the difference is).
In today’s fast-paced, sometimes overwhelming world we live in, feelings of anxiety are all too familiar for many of us. Anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues and many mental health providers treat anxiety and anxiety-related issues.
In this article, we will provide further information about anxiety disorders, how anxiety is treated, as well as some important signs to look out for that might be an indication that you could benefit from therapy. We will also review the difference between a therapist and a psychiatrist and how each profession can be helpful for treating this mental health condition.
Whether you have been grappling with anxiety for years or you are just starting to wonder if it’s time to seek professional help, we will provide guidance and support you on this path to a healthier, more peaceful you.
Understanding anxiety disorders
In every day conversations, we typically interchangeably use anxiety with stress and worry. It is normal to experience stress and worry in our daily lives. In fact, the right amount of stress can be very beneficial to us as we navigate the demands of life. Anxiety disorders, which typically involve physical symptoms, anxious feelings, anxious thoughts, and sometimes panic attacks, are more persistent and frequent than daily stresses. Worries or symptoms associated with anxiety can be constant, escalate quickly, and sometimes even be debilitating. Most of us have felt ‘butterflies in out stomach’ before giving a speech or a big test, but anxiety symptoms can often manifest in more extreme or regular ways in our bodies. Some of these symptoms include increased heart rate, muscle tension, sweating, or digestive issues.
There are different types of anxiety disorders. Here is a brief overview of some of the more commonly diagnosed anxiety disorders:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
This disorder is marked by excessive worry about a wide range of everyday concerns such as health, work, family, and finances. People diagnosed by mental health professionals with GAD often experience physical symptoms such as muscle tension, restlessness, and sleep disturbances.
Social Anxiety Disorder
This disorder involves an intense fear of social situations and a fear of being judged or embarrassed in front of others. People diagnosed with SAD also often avoid social interactions and sometimes everyday activities.
Individuals with panic disorder experience recurrent, unexpected panic attacks characterized by intense fear and physical symptoms like rapid heart rate, sweating, trembling, and a feeling of impending doom. People who experience panic attacks regularly often become afraid of having panic attacks, leading to avoidance behavior.
OCD is characterized by intrusive, distressing thoughts and repetitive behaviors or rituals aimed at reducing the anxiety caused by the obsessions. Common obsessions include contamination and germs, the need for symmetry, or intrusive thoughts about harm.
Separation Anxiety Disorder
This disorder typically begins in childhood and involves excessive fear or anxiety about separation from caregivers or loved ones. It can sometimes lead to the child not wanting to go to school.
If you are experiencing anxiety, mental health counseling may be for you. Your work with a mental health provider can potentially help work to reduce the symptoms of anxiety you are experiencing so that you can live a fuller live and feel more in control of and comfortable in your body.
After reading this article so far and you think you may benefit from anxiety treatment, we recommend incorporating work with a mental health professional as part of your treatment. However, in addition to working with clinical social workers, a psychologist, or psychotherapist, there are some other supplementary options to help support you in your healing journey. Here are some of the treatments available to you that help to treat anxiety disorders:
Work with a mental health professional
Many mental health professionals have experience treating anxiety disorders. Therapeutic modalities like CBT, DBT, and Psychodynamic Therapy have all been shown to help treat anxiety-related disorders.
Joining a support group can help provide a sense of community and understanding among individuals facing similar challenges.
Exercise, a healthy diet, and adequate sleep all affect our mental health. Ensuring daily movement, a well-balanced approach to food, and getting enough sleep are all beneficial components to reduce your symptoms of anxiety.
Medications can sometimes be helpful in treating anxiety disorders by targeting the biological factors that contribute to these conditions. For those experiencing severe anxiety, they can provide relief from the distressing symptoms so that individuals can better engage in talk therapy.
Should I see a therapist for anxiety?
You may be wondering if your symptoms of anxiety mean that you might benefit from seeing a therapist. It can sometimes be hard to ask for help or know if what you’re experiencing warrants a search for a therapist. Here, we’ll identify some signs that you might be a good candidate for therapy to treat anxiety.
“6” signs it’s time to start seeing a therapist for anxiety
If your symptoms are persistent or significantly impact your life, therapy is often recommended. These symptoms might include worry, panic attacks, avoidance behaviors, and physical manifestations of anxiety.
If you have recurring or severe panic attacks, therapy can help individuals learn to manage and reduce the frequency and intensity of these episodes.
Social or occupational impairment
if you are experiencing significant social or occupational impairment with avoidant behaviors or excessive dread, you may benefit from therapy. This includes relationships, social situations, and work duties.
If you are finding that many of your worries and stresses are manifesting physically and feel unable to find relief, therapy may be able to help you
Persistent, negative thought patterns or beliefs can fuel anxiety. Therapy can help you to identify and modify these patterns.
Anxiety can take a toll of your overall well-being. If you feel anxiety is affecting your overall quality of life, therapy can help you address the root and find relief.
Should I see a therapist or psychiatrist for anxiety?
So if you’re onboard with finding treatment for your anxiety, you may be confused by the different options for mental health providers. Here, we’ll review the difference between a therapist and a psychiatrist.
The choice between seeing a therapist or a psychiatrist (or both) depends on several factors, including the severity of your anxiety, your preferences, and your treatment goals. Both therapists and psychiatrists play important roles in managing anxiety, but they offer different types of services.
A therapist provides psychotherapy (talk therapy) and does not prescribe medications. If you prefer a non-medication approach and want to explore talk therapy as a way to get at the root of your anxiety, we recommend this as a first-line treatment. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who typically don’t provide talk therapy (though some do), but they do prescribe medications. Consider seeing a psychiatrist or adding in a psychiatrist to your existing therapy treatment if you are not seeing improvement in physical symptoms, have other co-occurring mental health concerns, or if your therapist recommends you see a psychiatrist.
Anxiety therapy in California can help your mind and body heal.
At Cura Integrative Health, we believe in healing the mind, body, and soul. When it comes to treating and managing anxiety, we believe in both helping our patients to reduce symptoms quickly, while also addressing the roots and history of the anxiety. We have seen that this is an effective approach for long-term, sustainable relief as opposed to short-term fixes.
Our clinic offers psychotherapy, neurofeedback, and biofeedback to help target the symptoms of anxiety from both the brain and the body. Our custom, targeted assessment helps us understand what services you might benefit from if you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety. We put together a care plan for you to help you meet your goals and find relief from anxiety.
If you are curious or if you would like to schedule a complimentary 15 minute consultation call, please reach out to us to learn more.