9 Signs That Holiday Anxiety Poses Real Mental Health Risks
It isn’t normal for the anxiety of the holidays to overpower you, and there is hope for a better winter season. Look out for meaningful signs of serious anxiety that call for urgent attention. And be aware of the risks of letting this mental health issue go without treatment.
It may be true that the holidays bring love and generosity and time off. But the holidays also bring additional responsibilities and pressures. And enormous expectations. There are your expectations for how things should go and others’ expectations of you. It’s normal to feel the stress of gift-giving, financial burdens, hosting, social situations, family dynamics, past memories to live up to, and travel. For someone with anxiety, these typical stressors are intensified and may even become unbearable.
Is holiday anxiety a normal thing? Is it something you should expect and aim to power through? While some stress is not uncommon this time of year, anxiety that overwhelms you and consumes your power is not normal. Happily, there are accessible and effective treatments that can ease symptoms and empower you with positive coping strategies.
If the holidays are more agony than they are joy, it’s time to flip the scales. Give yourself the gift of mental health care, and the rest of life will fall into place around it.
What Are the Signs That Holiday Anxiety Is Serious?
Whether you’re concerned about your own mental health this time of year or for someone else’s, there are some meaningful signs you can look for. If you notice one or more of these signs, or something similar, it’s important to take seriously the risks to your mental health or another’s.
- Excessive worries that don’t go away or that just shift into other worries. Perhaps it is a preoccupation with events that have already passed or events yet to come.
- Physical anxiety symptoms, such as a rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, shaking, dizziness, sweating, an upset stomach, a dry mouth, and restlessness.
- Panic attacks that feel like an intense loss of control. They can include feeling faint, trouble breathing, a pounding heartbeat, nausea, or other intense symptoms.
- Social withdrawal and isolation may be a coping mechanism or an unfortunate result of serious anxiety. Someone may avoid situations that they know will bring on feelings of anxiety or panic. Or they may be so overcome with anxiety that they are unable to maintain connections and they lose interest in activities they used to enjoy.
- Changes in appetite and weight can go in either direction with anxiety disorders. Someone may lose their appetite or experience an increased appetite, and unusual weight changes can occur.
- Insomnia and other sleep disturbances often accompany anxiety disorders. It can be very difficult to settle one’s mind and one’s fears in order to rest. And the inability to sleep adds another concern that can be powerfully consuming.
- Psychotic symptoms such as visual or auditory hallucinations, delusional thinking, or paranoia. These symptoms can be very unsettling and dangerous, and when they arise, it is critical to get a professional opinion of the cause.
- Feeling helpless or hopeless under the weight of the distress. When the stress and anxiety feel like too much to handle, it’s time to get help. And help is especially urgent if a person’s despair leads them toward self-harming behavior or thoughts of suicide.
- Changes in appearance can occur when someone is unable to give as much attention to hygiene and self-care as they usually do.
To put it simply, if anxiety is getting in the way of your life—regardless of the time of year—it’s a problem that calls for urgent attention. And there are effective solutions to the problem. We need to take our mental health seriously and prioritize healing treatments that can help improve every area of life.
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What Are the Risks of Anxiety Disorders If Untreated?
If generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, panic disorder, or another type of anxiety disorder goes untreated, the effects on one’s life and health can be serious. The complications of anxiety can affect work performance, the success of relationships, the ability to manage finances and other responsibilities, and everyday functioning. As it puts stress on the body, anxiety can also contribute to physical disorders, including heart disease, gastrointestinal conditions, infertility, and other problems. Untreated anxiety can aggravate co-occurring mental health disorders and it can always get worse. Anxiety is the type of experience that tends to compound and affect all areas of one’s life.
If the holidays are a painfully stark contrast to the light and peaceful gatherings we idealize, you do not have to simply bear it. And you do not have to get through it on your own. Reach out to speak with a psychiatrist and learn about your options for empowering treatment to help you get through the holidays and start the new year with hope.
If you’re concerned about a loved one and believe they may need residential care, we can help. BrightQuest offers long-term treatment for people struggling with complex mental health illnesses and co-occurring disorders. Contact us to learn more about our renowned program and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward recovery.