One of the biggest hurdles to seeking treatment is actually just making the appointment to go see the Doctor. I’ll be addressing seeing a doctor for depression as well, but today I want talk about what happens when you’re seeing a doctor for anxiety. If you’re struggling with anxiety, you know that it helps to be more familiar with a situation before you go into it – this is similar to how we adjust to people.
Seeing a Doctor for anxiety isn’t as scary as it’s made out to be. I think a lot of people put it in their heads that they’re accepting that something is wrong with them. I still don’t see it that way. Anxiety makes you different – unique – but not wrong. Today I’m going to walk you through what happens when you’re seeing a Doctor for anxiety.
So, you get into the office and you sit down with the Doctor, now what?
When you’re seeing a Doctor for anxiety, they’re going to try make you feel comfortable. It’s important that you’re able to open up and really speak about what’s going on in your life – this can be another common hurdle. Personally, it took me quite some time to just be able to open up to a Doctor and talk about my life.
The Doctor will ask questions about your life, your relationships, education, etc. This is meant to give them some background information into what your specific circumstances are and how these illnesses are affecting you. These questions will get increasingly more personal as they try to warm you up to the situation, and then determine what kind of anxiety you’re struggling with.
Hesitant about taking medication? I’ve been there, check out my article on Passion Flower for Anxiety to learn about a great herbal remedy for treating anxiety.
Isn’t all anxiety the same?
No. There are five major types of anxiety disorders. Though I will be diving into much deeper detail regarding these disorders in the future, see below for a brief summary of each:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – commonly characterized by excessive & chronic worrying, very commonly when there’s nothing to provoke such feelings
- Social Anxiety Disorder – extreme self-consciousness in social situations
- Panic Disorder – Episodes of intense fear
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – OCD typically involves obsessive thoughts and/or repetitive behaviors, commonly referred to as rituals. Typically, one feels that they need to perform these rituals to relieve the anxiety, though the relief is only temporary.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – This type of anxiety commonly occurs as a result of a situation in which you’re exposed to a very violent event or physical harm. PTSD is very common amongst combat vets, though I think it’s important to acknowledge that it’s also a very common phenomenon in our society as well – those who have suffered from child abuse, rape, or abusive relationships, for example.
So, what do I need to know?
Anxiety is very closely linked to depression. If you decide that seeing a Doctor for anxiety is in your best interest, it is very likely that you will also be treated for depression. Furthermore, if you’re suffering from anxiety & depression, exercise is an incredible tool to be using to enhance your well-being, see my article What Does Exercise Do To Your Brain?
So, what does treatment consist of?
Despite what a lot of people think, medication isn’t really intended to be a cure-all. The part of treatment that the Doctor can help you with is medication & therapy, but you also need to be mindful of your own habits and routine. There’s really two primary focuses to seeing a Doctor for anxiety:
- For depression, the Doctor is likely to recommend an anti-depressant, quite commonly a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) – more on these in future blogs. The intent is for this medication to help ease some of the feelings of anxiousness that you’re having, while also improving your mood.
- For anxiety, there are quite a few drugs that are commonly prescribed. In particular, I want to address Benzodiazepines. This class of drug essentially slows down the nervous system. They make you tired, drowsy, lose your memory, and a little loopy. Sure, they kind of work (you’re essentially in a strange “high”) – but they’re dangerous drugs that aren’t meant to be taken long-term. Aside from the long list of side effects – such as worsening depression – these drugs have a serious potential for abuse, especially for those with mental health disorders who are already prone to addiction. If you have a history of substance abuse your Doctor will most likely not prescribe these. Due to the nature of these drugs, it’s common for the body to build a tolerance, eventually requiring a higher dose to get the same effect.
- A complement to any treatment plan will be therapy. I know a lot of people don’t believe in therapy and I know a lot of people think therapy means something is wrong with you. Therapy can work wonders but you have to actually be willing to show up and put the time and work in – and honestly, most people aren’t.
- My own experience has been with Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) – this is a type of therapy that I’ll be discussing in further detail in future blogs. Essentially, this type of therapy allows you to step back and reconsider some of your habits and trains of thought – with the intent that you will pretty much rewire your brain to think differently. It has worked insanely well for me.
If you’re considering seeing a Doctor for anxiety, you may also want to give my article on Passion Flower For Anxiety a quick read.
Is that all there is to seeing a Doctor for anxiety?
That’s really as far as the Doctor is going to take you for the time being. They’ll help you get a bump in the right direction, but it is still you living your life and learning about yourself – what triggers your anxiety, what helps it, etc. If you decide to take medication, the Doctor will typically want to see you again soon.
In my own experience – I’ve been on a ton of different medications – and the Doctor will typically want to check in after about two weeks to a month if the medication is new. If you’ve been on the same medication for awhile or you’re just increasing a dose, you may end up going three to six months without checking back in with that Doctor. However, they will recommend that you still routinely attend therapy sessions.