How do I know if I need help with anxiety?

It is normal to be anxious and stressed sometimes, especially if you are going through difficult events or experiences in your life. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to work out if it would be useful to see a psychologist and get some help with your anxiety:

Is avoidance limiting my life?

Are you finding that your need to avoid your worries and fears is stopping you from doing the things that matter in your life? Maybe you are finding that your anxiety is limiting your job opportunities, stopping you from making friends or preventing you from trying new things. Often you find that over time, options and choices narrow as avoidance invades more and more areas of your life.

Does fear and worry stop me from enjoying the good things I have?

I was always preoccupied with where I was going and how I was going to get there, to the extent that what was happening right now got ignored… Why couldn’t I switch the planning part of my brain off, chill out and enjoy things? Why did I spend so much of the present … distracted and half-absent, wondering about something that might or might not happen next week?”James O’Loghlin, comedian and radio host

Are the ways I cope with my anxiety also making things worse?

It is useful to think about the coping mechanisms you are currently using. What impact are these strategies having on your health, your relationships and your lifestyle?

Is fear holding me back from seeking help?

One of the problems with anxiety is that, due to fear of judgment from others, many of us keep our worries and anxiety to ourselves. Anxiety disorders are actually the most common type of emotional problem – it is estimated that in any given year, one in seven adults in Australia will experience problematic levels of anxiety. However, few people talk about their experience of anxiety. Perhaps it’s because we’re afraid of being thought of as weak or not coping. It’s understandable then that seeing a psychologist and talking about your anxiety requires considerable courage.

I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unnerving ease. It begins in your mind, always … so you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.”Yann Martel, Life of Pi

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