When to See a Specialist About Your Anxious Moods

Feb 13, 2024
When to See a Specialist About Your Anxious Moods
When is anxiety justified, and when is it a literal waste of your time? If you’re fixated on anxiety, you need to see a specialist for targeted treatment.

Anxiety is a part of being human. All of us worry now and again about aspects of our lives, including work, relationships, and personal fulfillment. But when your anxiety pushes you back to take the lead in your life, it’s time to see a specialist and get your anxiety under control.

At Primecare Family Practice, board-certified family practitioners Maryline Ongangi, APRN, FNP-C and Lewis Nyantika, APRN, FNP-C diagnose and treat all manner of mental health disorders, including anxiety, at their Arlington, Texas, office. If you’re unsure whether your anxiety needs professional treatment, here are some guidelines from the team.

How anxiety manifests

Anxiety is one of the ways our bodies warn us that something frightening or dangerous is about to happen. It revs up the body to fight this menace or flee from it. That’s great if you’re facing a tiger, but if you’re worrying about day-to-day things and events beyond your control, you’re only making the situation worse. And, left unchecked, anxiety produces a fearful state that keeps your mind going in circles, catastrophizing (predicting the worst outcome) about all the possibilities.

Anxiety comes in many forms. Here are a few.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

You can develop generalized anxiety disorder as a child or an adult. GAD has many symptoms similar to panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other types of anxiety, but they're all separate conditions.

In many cases, GAD occurs along with other anxiety or mood disorders, making it even more difficult to live with.  It can also produce a wide range of  psychological and physical symptoms.

Making lifestyle changes, learning coping skills, trying medication, and using relaxation techniques can help.

Panic disorder

A person with panic disorder experiences frequent and unexpected panic attacks, characterized by a sudden wave of fear, discomfort, or a sense of losing control, even in the absence of a trigger.

Panic attacks include physical symptoms that may feel like you’re having a heart attack, such as trembling, tingling, and/or a rapid heart rate. Many people with panic disorder worry about having another attack, and they significantly change their life to avoid that, leaving them isolated and still fearful. You can have a panic attack as frequently as several times a day or as rarely as a few times a year.

Social anxiety disorder

With social anxiety disorder, everyday interactions can lead to significant anxiety, self-consciousness, and embarrassment because of the fear of being scrutinized or judged negatively by others. Fear and anxiety lead to avoidance behavior that can disrupt your life.

Unlike simple nervousness, social anxiety disorder comprises fear, anxiety, and avoidance that together interfere with relationships, daily routines, work, school or other activities. It generally starts in the early to mid-teens, though it may appear in younger children or in adults.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

OCD is a long-term disorder in which a person experiences uncontrollable and recurring thoughts (obsessions) and/or engages in repetitive behaviors (compulsions) to try to alleviate the obsessions. The symptoms can be quite time-consuming, cause significant distress, and interfere with daily life.

Common obsessions include:

  • Fear of germs/contamination
  • Fear of forgetting or misplacing something
  • Unwanted or taboo thoughts about sex, religion, or harm
  • Desire to have things perfectly symmetrical or in a certain order

Common compulsions include:

  • Excessive cleaning or hand washing (to the point the skin becomes raw)
  • Repeatedly ordering or arranging items in a precise way
  • Repeatedly checking if the door is locked or the oven is off to the exclusion of all else
  • Counting things to the exclusion of all else
  • Praying or repeating words silently

It’s not that people living with OCD are unaware of their situation, but they can’t override the part of their brain that compels them to perform the rituals.

When to see a specialist about your anxious moods

Sometimes anxiety is just a bit of worry that goes away quickly. If it doesn’t go away, though, and if it begins to consume your life, interfering with work, school, relationships, and family, you need to get professional help.

Common signs you need to see a specialist include:

  1. Anxiety interferes with personal or professional relationships
  2. You can’t complete tasks on time because you spend your time worrying about them
  3. You become withdrawn, depressed, or suicidal
  4. You develop physical symptoms that aggravate your anxiety
  5. You become unable to fall or stay asleep

Most anxiety disorders can be treated successfully with medication and some form of psychotherapy (talk therapy). Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is often a good choice, as it teaches you how to change your way of thinking about your disorder, as well as provides you with new and effective coping skills.

Are you increasingly anxious and don’t know what to do about it? Primecare Family Practice can help. To get started, call us at 817-873-3710, or book online with us today.