Do You Need Therapy for Anxiety? Decide Using this Checklist

It can be hard to tell if you need therapy for anxiety. What's normal anxiety? When do you need anxiety therapy? Find out how to tell if you need therapy for anxiety at HealthyPlace. Don't wait for your anxiety to take you over. Read this.

If you're asking yourself, "Do I need therapy for anxiety?", this article will help you find an answer. Anxiety therapy can be extremely helpful in reducing anxiety and taking back the person you know you are and miss having around. As bad as anxiety can be, we often are unsure of whether or not we need therapy for anxiety. We wonder if we’re making too big of a deal out of things. Should we just keep trying to deal with anxiety symptoms by ourselves? Wondering when to enlist the help of a therapist is common. This checklist can be a useful tool in deciding whether you need therapy for anxiety or not.

Checklist to See if You Need Therapy for Anxiety

The following signs often point to a need for therapy for anxiety. You don’t need to have all of the signs to benefit from professional anxiety help. If you're experiencing just one, your need for anxiety therapy increases.

▢ Your anxiety is negatively impacting one or more areas of your life.

Sometimes we have anxious thoughts, feelings, or physical sensations that are bothersome, but we can function in our lives without too much difficulty. When anxiety starts to interfere with your quality life, it may be time to seek anxiety therapy (Anxiety Disorder Symptoms, Anxiety Disorder Signs). If you notice anxiety getting in the way of any of your relationships, work, leisure time, or other aspects of the life you’re used to, getting professional help can get you back on track.

▢ You’ve had anxious thoughts, emotions, and physical symptoms persistently for months.

Anxiety is a normal human emotion and response to stressful situations. The fight-or-flight response kicks in to help us deal with tough situations, and while it doesn’t feel great, it does help us through. But if your anxiety symptoms don’t subside in a reasonable amount of time, you may need therapy for anxiety. What’s reasonable? For most anxiety disorders, the American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) specifies six months (an exception is panic disorder, which is one month).

▢ You’ve had people tell you that you need therapy for anxiety or simply "help."

Sometimes others observe changes in our behavior that we don’t realize are there—or that we think we’re hiding. You might not realize how irritable you’ve become, for example. Perhaps you think you’re concealing a fear but others can spot how the fear is affecting you.

▢ You’re turning to substance use to manage your anxiety.

Known as self-medication for anxiety, using alcohol or drugs (street drugs or prescriptions not written for you), is common. It’s estimated that between 33% and 45% of people with anxiety disorders also have a substance use disorder. This statistic doesn’t account for people who haven’t been diagnosed and use substances to handle anxiety on their own. If you’re turning to alcohol or other substances to manage anxiety, you’re not alone and it’s not shameful—and anxiety therapy can help you regain control.

▢ This isn’t your first rodeo.

Anxiety is stubborn and has a way of popping back into our lives after we’ve already successfully overcome it. If this has happened to you, seeing an anxiety therapist will help you prevent anxiety from overtaking you again. Anxiety is a reaction in the brain as well as a learned behavior pattern that can become an automatic response in times of stress. So, too, are the anxiety management skills we learn. Therefore, having tune-ups now and then make your healthy responses stronger than your anxiety.

▢ Plain and simple, you’re tired of feeling like this, living like this.

The above items on this checklist do indicate that it could be time for anxiety help. But what if they don’t quite fit you yet your anxiety feels like it’s smothering you and taking control of your inner world? This is enough to signal that you need therapy for anxiety. Listen to your instinct, tune into your intuition, and take back your life.

Now that you’ve considered this checklist, you may have decided to seek anxiety therapy. This guide can help you find anxiety help: How to Find Mental Health Services in Your Area.

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2018, April 12). Do You Need Therapy for Anxiety? Decide Using this Checklist, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 17 from

Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC, DAIS

Tanya J. Peterson is the author of numerous anxiety self-help books, including The Morning Magic 5-Minute Journal, The Mindful Path Through Anxiety, 101 Ways to Help Stop Anxiety, The 5-Minute Anxiety Relief Journal, The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety, The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety, and Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 steps. She has also written five critically acclaimed, award-winning novels about life with mental health challenges. She delivers workshops for all ages and provides online and in-person mental health education for youth. She has shared information about creating a quality life on podcasts, summits, print and online interviews and articles, and at speaking events. Tanya is a Diplomate of the American Institution of Stress helping to educate others about stress and provide useful tools for handling it well in order to live a healthy and vibrant life. Find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Mina Edinburgh
June, 9 2018 at 12:23 am

Thank you for explaining that anxiety needs to be managed once it has appeared on a person since it never actually disappears and that he needs to get a counselor to make this happen. I guess my friend needs to start looking for a counselor as early as now. She used to have anxiety when she was younger, now that she is in college, the symptoms are returning. I feel the need to assist her.

June, 9 2018 at 2:26 pm

Hi Mina,
Every person's experience with anxiety is different. While professional help can indeed be beneficial, it isn't always the right thing. It's very individualized. Anxiety management can take many forms, from different counseling approaches to various self-help techniques, and often a combination of treatments. Having a supportive friend helps a great deal, too. Often, providing a listening ear and gentle suggestions (just suggestions to consider, not orders to follow) goes a very long way in helping someone manage and overcome anxiety. It's really nice that you are gathering information to discuss with your friend. Trust that she has it in her to rise above anxiety!

Emery Jean Chambers
June, 9 2018 at 12:20 am

I do like it when you pointed out that if the person's anxiety starts to interfere with their daily life, then it is time to consider counseling. A friend of mine started showing signs of fear and anxiety when he started studying in college, and I am worried about him. At first, it seems manageable, but now everything is just weird and hard for him. I think it will be best if I suggest he visit a counselor. Thanks!

June, 9 2018 at 2:30 pm

Hi Emery,
It's wonderful that you want to support your friend, especially since you've noticed that things are getting hard for him. Counseling can be very helpful, but it's most definitely a personal decision. What works well for one person might not work for the next. Sharing your thoughts with him and helping him think about counseling as an option (but not as a "must") might be a great way to support him.

Lizanne Corbit
April, 16 2018 at 6:14 pm

I think this is a wonderful tool to use and reference. Anxiety is persistent, and like so many things it can have ups and downs. Some periods where you feel "fine on your own" and others where it seems like the anxiety has become crushing. There is never any weakness in seeking help, and you're also not locked into speaking with someone for years. It's your anxiety, and your treatment. Seeking therapy can be a wonderfully empowering choice.

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