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Do I Have Crippling Anxiety?

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You won’t find an entry for crippling anxiety in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). But it’s not uncommon to hear people use the term when discussing their own mental health struggles. So, what is crippling anxiety, and how can someone who has this condition get the help they need?

What is Crippling Anxiety?

Crippling anxiety is an informal term that describes acute or severe symptoms of an anxiety disorder. It is sometimes referred to as debilitating or overwhelming anxiety.

As suggested by the various words that are used to describe this condition, crippling anxiety can have a profound negative impact on a person’s ability to live a full, productive, and satisfying lifestyle.

Signs & Symptoms

The anxiety disorders section of the DSM-5 contains entries for several conditions, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (social phobia), panic disorder, specific phobia, agoraphobia, separation anxiety disorder, and selective mutism.

The common thread among most of these disorders is that they involve excessive fear and worry. Some of them also include an array of distressing physical symptoms. Instead of listing the various signs of these disorders, in this section we’re going to focus on some of their more severe symptoms and debilitating effects.

Depending on a variety of personal factors, someone who has crippling anxiety may exhibit the following signs and symptoms:

  • Unwillingness to attend parties or other social gatherings
  • Refusal to meet new people
  • Turning down job offers or promotions
  • Inability to go shopping or run errands on their own
  • Persistent sense of dread
  • Unshakeable fear that they or someone they love is in danger or about to die
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Becoming angry, agitated, or upset for no outwardly apparent reason
  • Being unable to get to sleep or stay asleep
  • Having vivid and disturbing nightmares when they are able to sleep
  • Feeling as though they have become detached from their thoughts, their body, or their surroundings
  • Withdrawal and isolation
  • Being unable to leave their house

Crippling anxiety can also cause someone to experience a variety of physical symptoms, such as:

  • Fatigue and exhaustion
  • Persistent headaches
  • Frequent stomach aches
  • Nausea
  • Muscle tension
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Racing heart rate
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Tingling or numbness, particularly in hands and feet
  • Being unable to catch their breath, or feeling like they are being smothered

The symptoms of crippling anxiety can make it difficult for a person to perform well in school, pursue a fulfilling career, or maintain healthy relationships.

Crippling Anxiety vs. Regular Anxiety

Since there aren’t separate diagnostic criteria to differentiate crippling anxiety from “regular” anxiety, we don’t have an “official” way to tell if someone has one version or the other. However, subjectively speaking, here are a few common differences between the two:

  • The symptoms of crippling anxiety will be more intense and last longer than those of “regular” anxiety.
  • Some people are able to conceal their anxiety symptoms from peers and colleagues. For someone with crippling anxiety, it would be extremely difficult to do this for very long, if at all.
  • People who have what is informally referred to as high-performing anxiety are able to achieve academic and career success in spite of the symptoms they struggle with. The impact of crippling anxiety is not consistent with these types of progress or success.
  • The severity of their symptoms may make someone with crippling anxiety less likely (or simply unable) to seek professional help or even reach out to friends or family members.

Do I Have Crippling Anxiety Quiz

The best way to determine if you have crippling anxiety or any other mental health concern is to be assessed by a qualified healthcare provider. If you’re on the fence about scheduling an assessment, this quiz may help you decide.

If you think that you may have crippling anxiety, take our anonymous Do I Have Crippling Anxiety Quiz below:

These questions are for your information only, and they are by no means a replacement for a thorough mental health assessment.

With that understanding, answering “yes” to any of the eight questions above could indicate that your life has been disrupted by an anxiety disorder, and you should seriously consider making an appointment for an assessment with a mental health professional.

Completing an assessment and receiving an accurate diagnosis can be important steps toward a much healthier and more satisfying future.

Treatment Options for Crippling Anxiety

As we have established, it can be extremely limiting (and highly distressing) to live with untreated crippling anxiety. But anxiety disorders – even ones that cause severe symptoms – can be treated. When you get the right type of care, you can learn to manage your symptoms, regain control of your behaviors, and start to live the healthier life that you deserve.

Treatment for crippling anxiety may involve both medication and therapy, and can take place at the following levels: 

The key to effective treatment for crippling anxiety is personalization. 

Some people spend time in several or all of the programs we just listed, while others enter and exit treatment at the same level. Within each program, the medications and services that one person receives can be different from what another person gets. 

In other words, there’s no single path that’s right for every person who is seeking help for crippling anxiety. What’s most important is finding a provider who will work closely with you to find the path that best aligns with your unique needs and goals.

Contact Montare Behavioral Health to Start Treating Crippling Anxiety

Montare Behavioral Health offers life-affirming care for adults who have been living with crippling anxiety and a wide range of other mental health concerns. 

Our network of anxiety treatment centers includes several conveniently located facilities in communities throughout Southern California. At every location and in every program, you can expect to receive quality clinical services and close personal support from a team of experienced and compassionate professionals.

We understand how difficult life with untreated anxiety can be, and we are committed to providing the customized treatment that will help you achieve your goals and live the life you desire.

To learn more or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Contact page or call us today.