Is therapy the best place for me?

I have been struggling with my anxiety and panic attacks more frequently. I don’t know how to cope and don’t know if I should consider therapy. My job is draining me and my relationship isn’t always the most helpful.
Asked by Molls

Dear Molls,

Anxiety and panic attacks can really affect your quality of life. Therapy sessions provide you with a therapeutic space to explore triggers and stressors related to anxiety and panic attacks. Coping skills and techniques that can be utilized to manage anxiety and panic attacks are also often discussed during therapy sessions. Sometimes just talking about things related to anxiety and panic attacks in a supportive way can help you feel a sense of power over figuring out how to manage the symptoms that come with experiencing them. A lack of control is a predominant feeling that contributes to people feeling anxious, to begin with, so taking steps to feel like you are regaining a sense of control is very imperative. 

Since anxiety and panic attacks often include both emotional and physical symptoms, it can feel especially daunting to figure out how to manage the range of symptoms that one might experience. There is a wide range of coping skills that research has shown to be effective in the management of these symptoms. These coping skills range from deep breathing to grounding techniques to help one feel more connected with their body as well as their surroundings. There can be a trial and error factor to exploring coping skills, so it can be helpful to have a therapist or mental health professional try to steer you in the right direction by trying out different strategies.

Other life stressors like work, school, and relationships can contribute to anxiety or panic attacks feeling more intense. If you already feel anxious because of your state of mind and then your job makes you feel stressed out on top of this, you are not going to have the mental energy to manage the anxiety because now you have the stress and anxiety to deal with at the same time. If you are also dealing with elements of stress at work that are out of your control and do not seem to be things that can be decreased or eliminated in any way, then the only thing you can control essentially is how you manage these work stressors. Being able to cope with anxiety or panic attacks is going to help you feel like you have more mental energy to discover ways to manage how drained you feel because of work.

Relationships and interactions with others can also play important roles in managing anxiety and panic attacks. If you have people in your life who understand the type of support or reassurance you need when you feel overwhelmed by your anxiety, then it gives you the time and space to manage your anxiety. If you, however, have people in your life who contribute to you either feeling stressed or anxious, this will exacerbate your anxiety. Not everyone can understand how hard it is to manage anxiety or panic attacks if they themselves do not struggle with these things. People, however, do not need to fully understand how it feels to experience these things in order to provide support. It can be beneficial for the people close to you to receive some basic information about panic attacks and anxiety so they can understand if you need them to talk to you a certain way or need them to actually give you space when you feel anxious. Ultimately, having open conversations about anxiety and panic attacks with people you are close to helps you feel like you have the power to manage the symptoms you are experiencing. I hope you find this information helpful.