What to Do When Your Anxiety Becomes Debilitating

Anxiety is an intrinsic human emotion that everyone experiences occasionally — even people who are usually calm, cool, and collected know what it’s like to feel anxious, nervous, or worried in stressful or unpredictable situations that take them out of their comfort zone.

But for about 40 million adults in the United States, anxiety isn’t just another routine emotion, it’s a deep-seated, overpowering disorder that causes distress and interferes with life. 

Here at EXIS Recovery, we know just how disruptive uncontrolled anxiety can be: It can steal your sense of control, undermine your confidence, trigger intense physical symptoms, and deplete your energy. Luckily, you can reclaim your life from debilitating anxiety — here’s how.

Seek professional help

At some time in their adult lives, an estimated 30% of Americans experience anxiety that’s so intense, persistent, or debilitating that it qualifies as a disorder. 

Despite the fact that anxiety is the most common mental health problem in the US and across the globe, living with severe anxiety makes many people feel isolated and alone. This may help explain why fewer than two in five adults affected by anxiety disorders seek professional help.  

But it doesn’t have to be that way. That’s because, no matter how overpowering anxiety can be, it’s also treatable. Most people who ask for help are able to ease their symptoms or pull the plug on their disorder altogether with one or more of the following strategies: 


Also known as talk therapy, this collaborative approach uses a variety of techniques to help you identify, understand, and change the underlying thought and behavior patterns that contribute to your anxiety disorder.   

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)

As the most common form of psychotherapy, CBT helps you identify your specific anxiety issues and challenges quickly, then gives you tools you need to cope with those challenges and put an end to inaccurate thought patterns or negative behaviors. 

Sensory motor therapy

This body-based approach to anxiety helps you identify any past traumatic experiences that may trigger intense emotional and physical symptoms. It’s especially helpful for treating anxiety disorders that are rooted in a developmental or acute trauma.    

Small group counseling 

Small group counseling provides a safe and nurturing environment for people with anxiety disorders to listen to one another and discuss their own personal experiences, challenges, and successes.  

Anti-anxiety medication

If your anxiety is particularly severe, you may benefit most from a treatment plan that includes medication. By easing your most debilitating symptoms, anxiety-reducing medication can help enhance and support your progress in psychotherapy. 

Practice self-care

Whether you suffer from generalized anxiety, social or separation anxiety, a panic disorder, or a specific phobia, taking time to take care of yourself can help keep your symptoms at bay or, at the very least, reduce the number of “bad” days you experience.   

While there are a lot of effective self-care strategies to choose from, the following methods are proven to ease anxiety:

Engage in regular exercise

Getting regular exercise can help you take the edge off anxiety symptoms or prevent them from developing in the first place. 

Aerobic exercise, or the kind that gets your heart rate up, is particularly helpful. Walking, running, swimming, or cycling for at least 20 minutes most days of the week can help ease state anxiety (how you feel now) and trait anxiety (how you feel on a regular basis). 

Improve your sleep

Anxiety itself can wreak havoc on your ability to get enough sleep, but adequate sleep is critical to reducing anxiety. Creating an ideal sleep environment (dark, quiet, and not too warm) and improving your sleep hygiene (maintaining a consistent sleep/wake cycle) can help. 

Limit or avoid caffeine 

There’s a reason you rely on that morning cup of joe to help you get ready for the day. But besides boosting wakefulness, caffeine also activates your autonomic nervous system and puts your “fight-or-flight” response on standby. Caffeine can increase anxiety on its own, and people with anxiety disorders tend to be more susceptible to its effects. 

Put your anxiety to rest

There’s no way to completely cure any anxiety disorder, but the right combination of solutions can provide much-needed relief. In fact, treatment helps most people with anxiety reduce their symptoms enough to regain full control over their daily lives.

If you’re ready to put your anxiety disorder to rest for good, we can help. Call our office in West Los Angeles, California, or click the online booking tool to schedule a visit with one of our experienced mental health specialists.  

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