The most common complaint I hear in my office is anxiety. Actually, this is also the most common complaint I hear around the community with family, friends, and coworkers. Our culture is full of anxious people and is in desperate need of change.
College students more than ever feel overwhelmed by multiple concerns such as grades, friends, significant others, parents, work, and the list goes on. Often people ask me, “How do I know I need help? Isn’t everyone anxious?” Just the other day someone said to me that anxiety and all the ugly symptoms that come with are just a part of life. I am here to say that is not the case. Yes, anxiety exists with all of us, but there is hope. Before we identify getting help, let’s address the question, “How do I know I need help with my anxiety?”
In answering this question, the first thing I ask is “Does your anxiety impair your ability to function?” You may be thinking, please do not use clinical jargon with me. I understand. Let’s break this down. Ability to function simply means are you able to do the things you need to do throughout the day. If your anxiety makes it difficult for you to live out your day, then it is a problem. Below I have listed common daily activities that are impaired by anxiety. If you suffer from any of these issues, your anxiety needs to be addressed.
1. SLEEP – You have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and/or waking too early.
2. APPETITE – You have either increased or decreased appetite. You do not eat healthy meals on a regular basis. You may skip meals or eat junk food daily. You have a significant increase or decrease in weight.
3. CLASS/WORK – You find your work, either occupational or school-related, slipping. You arrive late to class. You completely miss a meeting. Your grades drop or you are written up at work.
4. RELATIONSHIPS – You are unable to keep steady relationships in your life. You struggle to talk to others and listen to their concerns. You are distracted by your anxiety to the point that you are disengaged from people. This could be your friends or your family relationships.
5. FOCUS – When anxiety comes, you are unable to consider anything else. Your mind is completely wrapped up in whatever is causing distress. You have difficulty relaxing and emptying your mind.
If you are like most people, reading these symptoms alone causes anxiety. The good news is that you are reading this article and becoming aware that you suffer from a disease that needs to be addressed in many of us. Awareness is the first step to healing.
Anxiety is one of the most common problems I see in my office. Fortunately, through counseling anxiety levels can decrease within a few sessions. Counseling gives people tools for battling their anxious thoughts. Do not continue to let anxiety impair your life. Give us a call and schedule an appointment today.
Whitney Owens, LPC, MA