Many people struggle with some degree of anxiety from time to time and to a point, that can be healthy. Worry is part of what makes us human, but our bodies can only handle so much stress being in constant fight or flight mode.
When you notice this intense worry affecting your day-to-day life and decisions, it’s time to seek help.
Don’t be afraid to talk about anxiety
Bringing up the conversation of anxiety with your doctor might seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.
It’s important to address your feelings, and your doctor’s office provides a very safe environment to have that conversation. Know that although you may feel there is a stigma associated with anxiety, it’s a very normal response to fear and worry.
A lot of people never bring it up with their doctor because they worry they’ll be put on medication for the rest of their life, and this just isn’t the case. Medication is one of many treatment options available to manage and treat symptoms of anxiety, along with lifestyle changes and other natural approaches.
Don’t be afraid to start the conversation with your doctor.
It’s just important to bring it up and voice your concerns. That is the most important thing: don’t be afraid to start the conversation with your doctor. It can be as simple as saying, “Doctor I want to talk to you about how I’ve been feeling lately…”
Your doctor will likely want to talk about your work, spiritual life, relationships and physical health — and how anxiety might be impacting those areas of your life. Be prepared to also discuss your family history and personal history of anxiety, depression or mood disorders, chronic illnesses and other potential health concerns.
Know you’re not alone
Many college students in particular experience high levels of anxiety, but students aren’t the only group affected. People from all walks of life, from children and teenagers to working adults and the elderly, struggle with high levels of stress.
But it’s important to recognize when the normal stresses of daily life have become more than you can handle. If anxiety is causing you discomfort, or affecting your day-to-day activities or relationships in any way, talk to your doctor.
Symptoms of anxiety can include feelings of worry, stress, difficulty sleeping and fatigue. If left untreated, anxiety can manifest into physical symptoms, including chest pain, shortness of breath, a choking feeling, stomach pains, nausea, and muscle and joint aches.
These should be evaluated as soon as possible, as they can be a sign of both anxiety and depression. If you ignore your symptoms, you are more likely to experience chronic medical issues, relationship problems, low self-esteem, depression, chronic fatigue and other conditions.
How your doctor can help with anxiety
If you’re looking for a natural approach to tackling your anxiety, regular exercise, meditation, peer support, healthy sleep, balanced nutrition and deep breathing are proven ways to alleviate anxiety. Your doctor can also provide guidance on lifestyle changes and approaches in integrative medicine that could lower your symptoms.
But if adjustments to your lifestyle are not providing relief, your doctor may prescribe medication such as a low-dose pill option to help regulate neurotransmitters from the brain. This will balance your chemicals and physiology, and can help you through a period of particularly high anxiety. If you do decide to start taking a medication, you should speak with your physician about the long-term impact and treatment plan beyond the period of regular medication.
We need to normalize the conversation about anxiety and stress. Know that if you are dealing with anxiety, there is nothing wrong with you — you’re simply human. You have nothing to lose by bringing it up to your doctor.
If you are concerned about your anxiety, reach out to your doctor for guidance. Don’t have a primary care physician? Find one near you.