What Is Debilitating Anxiety? How to Seek Help for Crippling Anxiety

Woman lies in bed next to pills struggling with debilitating anxiety

When anxiety becomes debilitating, it means it begins to interfere with your ability to live a normal, healthy life. Maybe you can’t go to work or the grocery store because of social anxiety. Perhaps you feel overwhelmed with anxiety everywhere you go and have uncomfortable physical symptoms. If you have generalized anxiety disorder to the point that you don’t leave home at all, it is debilitating. Here is how to recognize when crippling anxiety is taking over your life and how to regain control with professional treatment.

Are you ready to put debilitating anxiety in the past? Call Georgetown Behavioral Hospital now to learn about our treatment programs.

What Is Debilitating Anxiety?

Anxiety can come at many different levels. For some, it’s a mild nervousness that happens before they do something unfamiliar, such as public speaking. However, at the other end of the scale, there is debilitating anxiety. What is debilitating anxiety, then? It is anxiety so intense and extreme that it causes you to confine yourself to a very narrow life.

Also called apprehensive expectation, debilitating anxiety is usually future-oriented. You fear things that haven’t happened yet and might not happen at all. Your imagination tends to put a negative spin on the future, making you expect the worst.


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Debilitating anxiety feels so distressing that you simply stay away from anything that might seem threatening in any way. You may stop going out with friends or even stay away from all public places. It’s debilitating because it weakens your ability to interact in the world. 

When it stops you from taking care of your daily needs, you’ll likely have an incredibly difficult time managing your life. In many cases, you’ll miss out on the things you would most like to do, as well as the things you need to do. Fortunately, though, you can get treatment for this condition.

Debilitating Anxiety Symptoms

Seven Symptoms of Debilitating Anxiety Infographic

The first step in seeking debilitating anxiety treatment is to recognize its symptoms. Here are the most common debilitating anxiety symptoms that people with this condition experience. Some of these symptoms are like symptoms of other anxiety disorders. The difference is that in debilitating anxiety, they are much more extreme.

Debilitating anxiety affects your body in startling ways. You may have physical symptoms like:

  • Pounding or racing heart
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Muscle tension, twitching, or tremors
  • Nausea or upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Needing to urinate often
  • Restlessness

Emotional and cognitive debilitating anxiety symptoms may happen, too, such as:

  • Constant worrying
  • Feeling apprehensive or a sense of dread
  • Expecting the worst
  • Generalizing one bad experience to all experiences
  • Engaging in all-or-nothing thinking

Finally, debilitating anxiety symptoms can show up in your behavior.

  • Being hypervigilant
  • Staying away from any place, situation, or event that might cause you to feel fear
  • Irritability and frustration when you might face a fearful situation
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Always asking for reassurance
  • Second-guessing yourself
  • Engaging in compulsive behaviors like excessive hand-washing

If these debilitating anxiety symptoms sound all too familiar, you might guess that it’s possible you have an anxiety disorder. In that case, it’s nothing to fear. Instead, remember that you have just completed the first step toward seeking help. 

What Causes Debilitating Anxiety?

At this point, you might be wondering if you really do have debilitating anxiety. Yet, if you can’t put your finger on any reason for it, you might wonder how it can be true. Sadly, though, people sometimes let their disbelief prevent them from seeking help.

What you need to know is that this kind of anxiety can be caused by many different factors, and you might not be aware of them. For example, there are genetic factors that run in families. It could be related to your personality or your unique brain chemistry.

There are also environmental factors, such as losing someone you were close to, being abused or in a violent situation, or having a chronic or long-lasting illness. Therefore, what’s important is to recognize the symptoms and get help. You may or may not ever know why it’s happened to you, but you can certainly get treatment to improve your condition.

Debilitating Anxiety Treatment

Treatments for debilitating anxiety can be very successful, helping people overcome their worry and distress so they can take back their lives. With the right debilitating anxiety treatment for you, you can work towards doing all the things you want and need to do. What’s more, you can begin to enjoy life more.

Types of Treatment

Debilitating anxiety treatment can take many different forms. Most treatments fall into three categories: therapy, medications, and lifestyle changes.

Therapy for Debilitating Anxiety

Several types of therapy can help with debilitating anxiety. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has proven quite successful in treating anxiety. CBT teaches you to examine the thoughts behind your anxiety and choose more helpful thoughts. In CBT, you can also learn to recognize and deal with your anxiety triggers. Your therapist may teach you many different skills for reducing or coping with anxiety. 

Exposure therapy is especially helpful if you are fearful about a specific thing, such as riding on an airplane or going into public places. In this therapy, you are exposed to the thing you fear a little at a time. Eventually, you can get to the point where you can handle complete and lengthy exposure.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) may seem a little unusual at first. Your therapist has you remember something distressing that happened to you. At the same time, they guide you to move your eyes in certain ways. This procedure affects the way your brain processes the information so that it feels less upsetting.

Medications for Anxiety

Several medications can be helpful in debilitating anxiety treatment, especially in the early stages of treatment before therapy has had time to help. Here are some of the medications that are used for this.

  • SSRIs such as Citalopram, Fluoxetine, Paroxetine, and Sertraline
  • SNRIs such as Venlafaxine, desvenlafaxine, and duloxetine
  • Benzodiazepines such as alprazolam, diazepam, and clonazepam

Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes can also make a difference, though with debilitating anxiety, people usually need medications, therapy, or both, as well. Simple changes like exercising more, eating healthier foods, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol can help you feel calmer and more in control. In addition, practicing meditation or yoga, learning relaxation techniques, or stress management skills can help significantly.

How to Seek Treatment for Severe Anxiety

Once you understand that you might need help for debilitating anxiety, the next step is to contact a treatment center or therapist. To get debilitating anxiety treatment in Ohio, you can contact Georgetown Behavioral Hospital.

Our facility is situated in a beautiful rural setting and includes a 46-bed residential inpatient treatment facility with 24-hour psychiatric services. We also have a dual diagnosis program for people with both substance use disorders and mental disorders such as debilitating anxiety.

At GBH, you can take advantage of a comprehensive treatment program for people with severe anxiety. The treatment plan is tailored to your specific needs so that you get the therapy, medications, and other forms of help that will ease your anxiety. At the end of our program, we provide discharge planning to help you prepare for success once you get back home. Soon, you will be back on the road to better mental health and a much more satisfying life.

Has crippling anxiety narrowed your world and limited your options? Contact us at Georgetown Behavioral Hospital to begin your journey towards a fuller, richer life.

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