Anxiety disorders can sometimes cause severe physical symptoms. Though these experiences are usually brief, they can cause a person to fear that they may be about to die. In situations like this, how can you know when to go to the hospital for anxiety?
Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety
If you’re not familiar with anxiety disorders, you may be perplexed by the thought that someone might consider when to go to the hospital for anxiety. Anxiety’s just another work for nervousness, right?
As we alluded to at the top of this post, some anxiety disorders can be sources of immense physical and psychological distress. For example, panic disorder is one of 11 conditions in the anxiety disorders section of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). This disorder can cause the following types of symptoms:
- Elevated body temperature
- Profuse sweating
- Racing heart rate
- Chest pain
- Sensation of being choked or smothered
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Tingling in the hands and feet
Someone who experiences these types of symptoms – which, by the way, can occur at any time with little to no warning and no apparent trigger – may understandably fear that they are in the midst of a serious medical crisis.
Other anxiety disorders can cause symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, hot flashes, chills, and nausea. The frequency and intensity of these symptoms, combined with the deep-seated fears that are characteristic of many anxiety disorders, can also cause people to consider hospitalization.
When to Go to the Hospital for Anxiety
Having established a few of the reasons why anxiety could cause someone to think about seeking medical treatment, let’s address the main topic of today’s post: How can you know when to go to the hospital for anxiety?
In most cases, the anxiety symptoms that we’ve been discussing in this post don’t last very long. For example, it’s rare for panic attacks to persist for longer than 20 minutes – and they’re often over much sooner than that. This means that, by the time a person gets to the hospital, the distress that prompted them to seek help will usually have subsided.
Also, if someone experiences symptoms due to a certain situation or set of circumstances, as can occur with specific phobia, agoraphobia, and social anxiety disorder, removing themselves from the trigger will usually resolve the symptoms. Again, this means that by the time they get to the hospital, the crisis will likely be over.
In other words, it’s relatively rare to need hospitalization to address the physical symptoms of an anxiety disorder. But here are a few times when this decision may be the right call:
- If your symptoms have endured for a much longer time than they usually do.
- If your symptoms are causing you to think about harming yourself or attempting to end your own life.
- If you feel that you have no other option but to self-medicate by abusing alcohol or another addictive substance.
- If the symptoms of your anxiety disorder have become so disruptive that you have become unable to function.
Please note that this does not mean that hospitalization is never the answer – nor does it mean that professional care isn’t needed for anxiety. As we will discuss in the next section, there are other treatment options that may be much more appropriate (and more effective) for people whose lives have been disrupted by anxiety disorders.
Other Treatment Options for Anxiety
Thus far in this post, we’ve focused on physical symptoms when considering the necessity and benefits of seeking hospitalization for anxiety. While this is definitely a worthwhile topic, it ignores the fact that symptom-focused treatment offers limited effectiveness, because it doesn’t address the root cause of the problem.
This is where other treatment options can come into play.
Instead of waiting for a crisis to occur, and then considering if hospitalization is the right choice, a better plan may be to seek mental health treatment before your symptoms once again rise to the level that you begin to fear for your continued well-being.
For example, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy, and related services can empower you to take greater control of your thoughts and emotions, which can preclude the onset of intense physical and psychological distress from an anxiety disorder.
Find Effective Anxiety Treatment in Atlanta
Atlanta Integrative Psychiatry offers a dynamic array of innovative outpatient services for adults who have been struggling with panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobia, and other anxiety disorders.
Our center in Atlanta, Georgia, is a safe and supportive place where you can receive customized care from a team of experienced and dedicated professionals. These caregivers can assess the full scope of your needs, then develop an individualized plan that can put you on the path toward a much healthier and more hopeful future. We understand the many ways that untreated anxiety can undermine your efforts to enjoy a full and satisfying life, and we’re committed to providing you with a truly personalized experience while you are in our care.
To learn more about anxiety treatment at Atlanta Integrative Psychiatry, or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Appointment page or call us today. We look forward to answering all your questions and helping you determine if our center is the right place for you.