According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 40 million Americans 18 and older suffer from one type of anxiety disorder or another. Of those 40 million, only one third go on to seek treatment. The reasons for non-treatment are numerous. Some individuals fear what their family or friends might think of them. Others don’t realize they have a problem and think their anxiety is a normal part of their life. These individuals may be in denial as to how much their anxiety is affecting their daily life. Some are unaware of the mental health help that is out there despite prevalent mental health campaigns. They do not realize that they can reach out for help from anxiety therapists in the Washington, DC area.
Is Anxiety Affecting Your Physical Health?
Many individuals who do not seek help or are unaware that they can are putting their health at unnecessary risk. Some anxiety disorders can have negative effects on physical health that contribute to heart disease, migraines, and asthma. Some of the physical symptoms may manifest themselves as chest pains, shortness of breath, dizziness, stomachaches, the shakes, and extreme sweating. Individuals suffering from a preexisting medical condition such as fibromyalgia or menopause often find that anxiety worsens their symptoms and makes them feel that much more ill. If that is happening to you, it is definitely time for you to seek professional treatment.
The Dangers of Self-Medicating
Individuals who are afraid of seeking treatment or deny they have a problem often self-medicate. Some of them don’t realize what they are doing. Trying to treat or cover up symptoms of anxiety with illegal drugs and alcohol will only exacerbate the situation. It may provide a temporary respite at first, but there will come a time when the individual can no longer ignore the condition. Plus, long-term reliance on illicit drugs and alcohol comes with its own unwanted, health damaging side effects.
For one, self-medication does nothing to treat the anxiety disorder. It is only masking the symptoms, providing limited relief. For another, reliance on drugs and alcohol can cause addiction which requires separate treatment. This delays an individual’s ability to begin treatment for their anxiety. Having anxiety take over your life is miserable. Turning to drugs or alcohol will only make it worse. Individuals who have fallen into this mental health trap should seek help for both issues immediately. Joseph W. Lafleur at Lafleur Counseling can help you deal with the underlying causes of your anxiety disorder and refer you for any additional counseling you may need.