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19 'Red Flags' That Might Mean It's Time to Get Help for Your Anxiety

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Acknowledging you need help for anxiety can be really difficult. Sometimes it’s a specific moment in time, marked by the realization: I need help. Other times, it may be the culmination of living with exhausting anxiety symptoms for an extended period of time. Whatever the situation may be, it’s important to know the “red flags” that signify it may be time to find support.

Although an anxiety “red flag” for one person might be different the “red flag” for another, we wanted to know when people knew it was time to seek professional help. So we asked our mental health community to let us know what “red flag” told them they needed to get support for their anxiety.

Here’s what they shared with us:

1. “When I could no longer leave my house without [having] a panic attack. I only felt safe at home. If I was out, no matter where I was, I was in a constant state of fight or flight… I’m blessed with a great doctor who saw me the day after I called, and immediately started looking for the right meds for me. I have my life back now.” — Amanda C.

2. “When suicide became an option in my thinking. When I cried every day for any reason. When life seemed like a punishment. When I felt I was no longer a value to anyone, it was time to seek counseling.” — Kierstyn A.

3.After my uncle passed, I knew it was time. I was constantly having nightmares and panic attacks at night almost on a daily basis. His death was traumatic for me, and it took over a year to get over.” — Cherish I.

4. “When my self-destructive episodes started to cause problems at work.” — Andy S.

5. “The big sign was when I stopped eating. I was so anxious I couldn’t keep anything down, and my stomach always felt like someone was squeezing my insides together… I was always dizzy and shaky, and that’s when I realized my emotional state was serious, and that I needed to get help.” — Erika K.

6. “When panic attacks started to rule my life — everything revolved around them. That’s when I realized I couldn’t go on like this.” — Megan E.

7. “When I could no longer face work and the stress and the demands of teaching. I would wake up at 4:30 a.m., wet from sweat, night after night, thinking of the day ahead and how to make it through.” — Jamie S.

8. “I realized I needed help when I would cry over and obsess over the littlest things.” — Ashley H.

9. “I would avoid certain things (speaking up in class, learning how to drive, turning in homework, etc.) to the point where it made my life much more difficult. I also had panic attacks almost daily and would cry myself to sleep. I didn’t know I had anxiety, but I realized I needed to reach out for help.” — Nicole C.

10. “When being near more than a handful of people made my heart rate soar.” — Annie O.

11. “[When] my safe place was no longer my safe place because of my thoughts and feelings.” — Taylor S.

12. “When I, as a nurse, would imagine every ache or symptom I experienced was something fatal, and I’d spend hours thinking about it and examining myself. I’d lie awake in bed at night and be scared I wouldn’t wake up the next morning.” — Laura N.

13. “When my mom approached me and literally asked if I needed help. I hadn’t realized it was that obvious.” — Reming M.

14. “When I couldn’t take my newborn to get diapers.” — Jessica H.

15. “When I stopped seeing the point in living. When I was afraid to wake up and face my demons, and [felt like] I’d rather just disappear and not burden anyone. That’s when I realized I needed help.” — Savannah A.

16. “When I started to realize that anytime something would get difficult, I would run.” — Samantha M.

17. “When I started to realize how much my friendships were breaking down from my anxieties. It got to the point [when] I couldn’t have a conversation without my insecurities erupting and creating a conflict. I was slowly starting to isolate myself until I finally got help. Five months later, and I’ve never had a closer knit support system!” — Kira M.

18. “When I got sick of being scared of everyone and everything.” — Nathan B.

19. “When I found myself on the floor crying because I was so overwhelmed. My then-1-year-old came over and just started hugging me. I remember thinking, I have to get better for him… I called a therapist and got in that day, and have [since] been working on myself. It’s been almost two years, and I feel like a whole different person.” — Kristin B.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

Originally published: May 25, 2017
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