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How To Talk To Your Doctor About Anxiety: You Can Do It

Both persistent and unwanted thoughts are a sign of anxiety

If you’ve been questioning whether you should go and visit a doctor about anxiety, or finding countless reasons why you can’t bring yourself to go to an appointment, keep reading.

The idea of bringing up your inner feelings and discussing your mental health with a doctor might seem very intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s really important to raise how you have been feeling deep down, and a doctor's room provides a safe non-judgmental place to do so.

Many people avoid going to the doctor for anxiety as they worry there is a stigma that comes with anxiety or that they will be placed on medication for a long time. This isn’t the case these days, medicine is one possible option, but there are many other treatments to help anxiety. It’s also essential to know medical doctors are better trained than ever on the awareness of mental health issues, and how to support you through this.

How To Know If You Have Anxiety

It’s that sinking in your stomach that feels like a heavyweight, the endless circle of troublesome thoughts and not forgetting that super-fast pumping heart rate. Perhaps this sounds all too familiar, extreme anxiety symptoms aren’t just present in our minds, but also show physical signs and can take their toll on your general health.

At some point or another, everyone experiences high anxiety symptoms in their lifetime. In fact, to some degree, it’s an expected and usual response to events such as changing jobs, moving house, or financial difficulties. If you’re wondering how common it is, the World Health Organization estimates one in every 13 people worldwide experience anxiety. It’s often explained as worrying about something that has not occurred yet, or something which may never happen, whereas depression is often linked to past events (though not exclusively). The two are very different conditions and often overlap.

When anxiety symptoms start to take over and impact your day-to-day living, it could be symptomatic of an anxiety disorder. It’s a good idea to understand your symptoms and where they are coming from so you can get on top of it. Anxiety can manifest itself in many different ways, but keep your eyes peeled for these six key signs.

Sleep Disturbances And Fatigue

Many people say they experience most anxiety when it’s time to shut off and go to sleep. It’s a prevalent symptom to stay wide awake with your thoughts, especially at night when there are no other distractions around. Other people find they manage to push aside their troublesome thoughts throughout their daily life, but they start to creep in demanding attention at night and often even wake them up. What’s more, this creates a knock-on effect, needless to say, the next day, you may feel exhausted, especially in combination with physical symptoms.

Irritability And Agitation

You might feel like you are running a short fuse because the brain goes into overdrive with anxiety, along with the rest of your body. Are you finding yourself losing patience with those around you? If you’re feeling more edgy than usual, this could be a sign of anxiety.

Social Avoidance

Are you building a reputation for yourself as the one who never turns up? Perhaps it’s getting to the point where friends and family are starting not to invite you altogether. Staying well away from social scenarios may be one way you find can avoid stress or unpredictable situations, but it’s important to recognize this and bring it up at your appointment with your doctor.

Muscle Tension

Anxiety will often create tension running throughout the body. Common places include the stomach, jaw, neck, or chest. There’s no one specific area here, tension can occur wherever the brain sends signals. Some people experience tightness and then an aching feeling after.

Panic Attacks

A panic attack is a term describing a sudden intense fear that causes physical reactions. These can include a sudden feeling of losing control, such as breathlessness, a racing heart, sweating, dizziness, or trembling. It’s one of the most severe anxiety symptoms.

A Foggy Mind

That fuzzy mind, brain fog feeling is often a symptom of anxiety. This might involve forgetting things or struggling to pay attention. One useful analogy here is thinking of your brain as trying to control all of your anxiety symptoms. It helps keep your internal chatter calm, so no wonder it’s super tricky to think of the word for something or construct an email reply.

How To Talk To Your Doctor About Anxiety And Depression

Before you go, the first step is to prepare yourself for your upcoming appointment. You can do this by writing down what you’d like to speak about, so you don’t forget anything important. If you already know you have specific signs of anxiety disorder, write them down. These could be some notes about how you have been feeling day-to-day and critical points about your personal information. This may include any stressful life events you have experienced, anything upcoming, or anything from a previous experience. Be sure also to note any current medication you are on, including the name and dosage. Don’t forget you can also take a close friend or family member with you to your medical appointment if it makes you feel more comfortable.

You can also prepare some questions beforehand, such as what the doctor thinks is causing your anxiety, why a specific treatment plan is being offered to you, and what other things may support you. You might want to ask if you should see a psychiatric doctor, psychologist, or any other mental health professional, and if so, which they recommend. You can also ask for any pamphlets or support website recommendations that may help you digest all the information. All of these steps will help you with how to talk about depression, anxiety, and social anxiety with your doctor and find the right support and care for what you are going through.

What To Expect From Your Doctor

Your doctor will ask you several important questions to help understand your needs and any signs of an anxiety disorder. These questions may include how long you have been experiencing symptoms for, what type of things are worrying you, and whether your symptoms interfere with your day-to-day life. They may also ask if you are avoiding specific scenarios or if anything seems to make you feel worse. Equally, they may ask if anything makes you feel better and what that is. They may also wish to know information about your physical and mental health and any other conditions you have. They may ask you how much alcohol you drink and if you take any recreational drugs. Be aware, questions about any previous trauma or life changes are often raised. The doctor may also wish to know if you have any blood-related family with anxiety, depression, or any mental health conditions.

How To Treat Anxiety: The Options

After your doctor has seen you, you’ll have a clearer idea of which treatment you need to move forward with, and any decided treatment depends on the severity of your anxiety or if you have an anxiety disorder. A medical anxiety disorder is when the symptoms persist for weeks or months. The two most common treatment plans are psychotherapy and medication. However, these aren’t the only ways to manage your condition; there’s plenty of self-care strategies you can pick up too.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is also known as psychological counseling or talking therapy. There’s also a vast range of mental health therapies available depending on your type of anxiety. Sessions involve talking things through with a trained therapist to minimize your symptoms. One popular treatment you may have heard of is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, often known as CBT. It’s widely recognized as one of the most effective therapies for anxiety disorder, and what’s more, it’s a relatively short-term treatment. CBT involves teaching you specific methods to cope with your symptoms and gently returning to activities you may be avoiding.

Knowing how to talk about depression and anxiety with your doctor can lead to effective treatments.

Medications

Your appointment and consultation with your doctor are both essential, as it will help them decide with you if you need any medications and the level of you may require. Many people may need a possible combination of medication and talking therapies to help them tackle any problems, and your doctor will prescribe these, if needed, in your appointment.

Eating Healthily

A few lifestyle alterations can also make a big difference in the way you feel and your overall health. Make sure you’re eating well-balanced meals and regularly. A sudden dip in blood sugar levels can often make you feel shaky and worsen those anxious feelings. You can also speak to a professional about a diet plan if you are not sure where to start.

Eating a healthy and balanced diet can help reduce the signs of anxiety.

Relaxation Techniques

Yoga, meditation, and visualization strategies are just a few examples of popular techniques which can help you manage anxiety-related problems.

Stay Away From Alcohol

Needless to say, both alcohol and recreational drugs, can worsen anxiety, even if it might bring some form of immediate relief. Both interfere with neurotransmitters in the brain, meaning you may feel even more anxious once the effects start to wear off.

Keep Moving

There any many pluses to exercising regularly, it is a super powerful stress minimizer due to the chemicals released in the brain. So, where possible, try and schedule exercise into your routine. You can start little and often, and gradually build-up.

What Next?

Don’t forget you can always get a second opinion if you’re not comfortable with how the first visit to the doctor went, and make an appointment with a different mental health doctor or professional. It’s also important to book a follow-up appointment with your doctor to share how things are going and the next treatment steps for you.

If you found this helpful, you may like our guide to the implications of ['children see children do'] or information about support for a first-time dad too.

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Kidadl Team

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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