Overcoming Anxiety

Subject: Is it possible to cure your own mental illness?

Message: Hi, I'm seventeen and I've been struggling with social anxiety problems since I was twelve. I'm not diagnosed professionally but I'm almost 100% certain that I did have it at one point in my life. I used to be super talkative but suddenly became anxious about every little thing I did and stopped talking in school completely. I never told anyone I was struggling or sad, I told myself it was something only I could work out. I think I really need to see a therapist then but I never did. But over the years my fears have slowly fade, little things that I was terrified of I now do freely (like eating in class, wearing clothing other then a hoodie, stuff like that) I still struggle to find my voice around people I'm not comfortable with and I sometimes feel incredibly self conscious some days, but for the most part I have learned to handle bad days. It feels like the fears I have left are things that everyone feels nervous about. I'm not sure if i still need to get help? Or if I ever even had anxiety. My family is going through some hard times right now so I don't want to bother everyone if this is something I truly have fixed. Is it possible to over come something like social anxiety on your own? Is it truly worth it to get some tests done right now?


Response: First, I want to say that you are an incredibly strong woman. It is hard to get through everyday life when you have anxiety and fears that hit you from every angle. You faced your fears, you tackled your anxieties, and now you are able to get through most days without having to constantly fight battles just to get to the end of the day. I applaud you for your courage.

Yes, it is possible to overcome some mental illnesses like social anxiety, general anxiety, and depression on your own, without any professional help, and many people do. Through pure perseverance and a deep desire to be free to live your best life, people such as yourself, will work hard to overcome their anxiety and fears and eventually pull themselves out of it. What professional help such as counseling and seeing a psychiatrist provides, is that extra level of support and guidance needed to maintain stronger control over the anxieties that are weighing you down. Often anxiety is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain that requires medicine to keep it in balance (much in the same way that issues with the pancreas can cause diabetes and requires insulin to keep it balanced). Other times it is just a matter of knowing the right techniques and tools to help pull yourself out of the place you are stuck in. A counselor can help by working with you to find the techniques and tools that are right for you and will hold up against the strength of the anxiety and fears that keep you from moving forward.

It sounds like you have been able to manage your anxiety enough so that everyday life is not as challenging as it once was. It also sounds as though you are looking for that small bit of extra help just to make things more secure and close that chapter of your life completely. While it is possible to overcome anxiety on your own, it wouldn’t hurt to see a counselor to help you put your mind at ease and tie those loose ends to keep triggers at bay. A counselor could possibly also help you get through the tough time your family is going through right now.