How to tell if you have an anxiety problem

Do You Have an Anxiety Problem?

You might if:

  • You don’t want the amount of anxiety that you have
  • The anxiety itself is harming you,  your life, or people around you.

Anxiety is Your “Alarm System”

Nature provided us with our own internal alarm system.  It is designed to get us to pay attention so that we can take actions that ensure our safety and survival.   It’s called anxiety and it’s part of a normal human reaction called “the fight or flight response”.    This alarm system gets activated whenever we find ourselves in a situation where there is  perceived risk.
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There are potential problems with the anxiety alarm system; though.   You may have an alarm that gets tripped very easily and, thereby making life stressful.   You may not know how to turn off the anxiety alarm.   You may not know what is tripping  your alarm.  Or, you may find that the alarm fires for things that are actually not dangerous to you.

Sometimes we get “False Alarms”

It can be hard to tell whether you are getting a false alarm.  You may struggle with deciding whether the problem is internal, external, or both.   To assess this, you will need to gather information.   You will have find ways to more accurately determine how much risk the situation puts you in.  If your house is on fire you are in immediate danger.   If you are worried because you have not received a return phone call from your accountant, you might want to pay attention to that fact, but you are probably not in any immediate danger.   You need to get more information, including information about how you habitually interpret events.

What Do Your Actions Say?

Is anxiety prompting you to take action and fix your problem?  If it is, then on some level it’s working. Nature designed our brains and bodies to respond with anxiety so that you can take  action to make yourself safe.  Even if you are taking constructive action, you may still be unnecessarily anxious.   If you know that you are putting out the fire, it’s o.k. to turn off the alarm.   To do that, you need to know how.  Those are skills that you can learn.   A good therapist can help you get a better sense of whether your anxiety is a “false alarm” and can help teach you effective tools for turning it off.