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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Bakalarski

Anxiety: When should you ask for help?


It is common to hear people say that they feel stressed or maybe even anxious. What is anxiety, and how does it differ from stress? Stress tends to be shorter term and linked to a recognized threat/danger, whereas anxiety is long-term and usually does not have an easily identifiable threat. The body sensations frequently feel the same, but stress ones dissipate after the event passes. Anxiety can overwhelm you with ruminating, worrying thoughts, and uncomfortable somatic symptoms.


How do you know when anxiety or stress is too much? Our body's natural physiological response to a real or perceived threat is to "fight, flight, or freeze." This response was designed to help keep humans safe from danger, but what happens when there is a false alarm? A good analogy is a smoke detector in your home. The alarm sounds the same, whether the cause is burnt toast or an actual house fire. Anxiety happens when your internal smoke detector is too sensitive, causing you to perceive a threat when there is none. Therapy can help you recognize those false alarms and help restore your body's natural ability to navigate real versus perceived dangers.



It is brave to ask for help. Please get in touch with me for a free 15-minute consultation. I provide services to children (6+), adolescents, adults, couples/relationships, and families. I provide in-person services in my Santa Cruz office. Telehealth is available if deemed clinically appropriate.



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