When is the Best Time to Seek Help for My Anxiety?

It is a natural part of the human experience to experience distress from time to time. We can define distress as various negative feelings, including: sadness, anger, irritability, fear, anxiety, helplessness, confusion and embarrassment.

For most people, distress is an ordinary and brief reaction to a negative or stressful event. Although unpleasant, distress usually doesn’t lead to serious problems, and often actually expedites the remedy of a situation.When is the Best Time to Seek Help for My Anxiety?

However, extended duration of stress beyond a certain point cannot be categorized as normal; this is what we describe as mental disorder. Those experiencing mental health disorders tend to experience distress more frequently and more intensely.

The repercussions of extreme, extensive distress is that it could interfere with daily functioning, immediate relationships and overall quality of life.

It’s important for people experiencing mental health disorders to recognize when they have exceeded the normal distress threshold, because that means their body is being subjected to a high level of stress.

When does distress become something more serious that requires professional attention? Below are some general characteristics from the University of Michigan’s Campus Mind Works that can be helpful in calculating the severity of distress.

Typical Distress

  • Usually begins to subside after a few hours or days
  • Usually has an identifiable cause, such as:
    • Having an argument with a friend or loved one
    • Performing poorly on a major test or assignment
    • Receiving disappointing news
    • Finding out a friend lied to you
  • Usually has a reasonable intensity given the circumstances:
    • Crying for a few days after a romantic breakup
    • Feeling butterflies in your stomach before a major exam or presentation
    • Not talking to a friend for a time after he/she betrays your trust
  • Gets better, at least briefly, when something good happens

Distress requiring professional attention

  • Often does not subside for weeks, months, or even years
  • Might not have a clearly identifiable cause:
    • Crying frequently without knowing why
    • Having angry outbursts at others for no apparent reason
    • Feeling anxious in situations that are usually considered non-threatening
  • Is often out of proportion to the circumstances:
    • Feeling worthless or hopeless after performing poorly on an exam
    • Angry outbursts over small problems
    • Avoiding classes or social situations because they make you feel very anxious
  • Does not improve even when something good happens

Practice mindfulness and relaxation: Do yoga, listen to music, meditate, or get a massageThe Anxiety and Depression Association of America recommends the following healthful tips and lifestyle adjustments to address possible anxiety and depression.

  • Eat well-balanced meals: Focus on vegetables and good proteins, restrict excess sugars and processed carbohydrates
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine
  • Get enough quality and restful sleep
  • Exercise daily
  • Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly. Or count to 10 slowly.
  • Get involved. Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community, which creates a support network and gives you a break from everyday stress.
  • Learn what triggers your anxiety through journaling or documentation. Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify?
  • Reach out to friends and family
  • Talk to a physician or therapist for professional help.


Did you know an addiction can be caused by a mental disorder?

One of the primary reasons that mental disorders and substance abuse so often go hand-in-hand is that drugs and alcohol can provide an escape from the pressures of mental health problems. Self-medicating is surprisingly common: you’re not alone.

But unlike real, effective, long-term solutions, such as medication and detoxification in a treatment center, drugs and alcohol won’t amount to effective treatment.

If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from addiction, then take our free 3 minute assessment.


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