When temperatures dip and the days start getting shorter, some people flock to the movies (or their couches) for some scary seasonal fun. If you’re usually thinking something like, “no thanks, real life is scary enough,” this guide’s for you.
There’s nothing wrong with not enjoying the adrenaline spike that comes along with a good scare, whether it’s onscreen or IRL. But if your everyday life gets your heart racing faster than any horror film, that might be a sign that your mental health needs some attention.
Everyone gets scared sometimes—fear is your brain’s security system keeping you alert to the possibility of danger. Those mental and physical symptoms you feel when you sense danger are known as your fight-or-flight response and it’s your body’s way of protecting you from potentially life-threating situations. Sometimes though, that security system can go a little haywire, and you may feel those mental and physical symptoms of fear (AKA anxiety) in response to everyday stressors like an upcoming exam, or even when stressors aren’t there (ever had anxiety ruin a perfectly good beach day?).
So how can you tell if your brain is a little too good at keeping you safe? Well, you’re the best judge of your own situation. Ask yourself if feelings of fear are stopping you from doing things you want to do, like taking on new challenges, or are disrupting your daily routine. You can also check in with your body throughout the day. If you often notice physical symptoms of fear, (or panic attacks or anxiety attacks), such as an increased heart rate, sweating, or an upset stomach, that could be a sign that fear is becoming a problem for you.
Want to learn more about panic attacks and anxiety attacks? Check out: Panic Attack vs. Anxiety Attack: Understanding the Differences
Intense or frequent fear that disrupts your daily life can be a sign of a few different mental health conditions such as:
Depending on your other symptoms, you might be dealing with one of these types of anxiety, or something else entirely. Talking to a psychiatrist is the best way to know for sure what’s causing your symptoms. Fear can feel suffocating and all-consuming but it is possible to heal and live without fear holding you back.
Want to learn more about anxiety symptoms and treatment options? Read how Talkiatry treats anxiety.
If what you’ve read so far sounds like you, you’re not alone—anxiety rates among young adults in the U.S. were going up even before the COVID-19 pandemic, which only made matters worse. So what can people with anxiety do to ease their fears? Here’s what experts consider most effective:
For some people, even the best coping mechanism or creative outlet won’t be enough to ease up those feelings of fear or anxiety—and that's okay. Sometimes professional help is necessary and there’s no shame in asking for support. If you are experiencing an anxiety disorder or another mental health condition, treatment works and typically includes therapy (like cbt or cognitive behavioral therapy), medications, or both.
Seeing a mental health professional, like a psychiatrist or therapist, is a good place to start if your mental health is making it hard to go about your day.
When fear is doing its job, it helps keep you safe by letting you know when something’s a little too far outside your comfort zone. But when it escalates into anxiety, fear becomes more like a cage, keeping you trapped.
Only you can know if your fear isn’t helping you anymore, but you don’t have to figure that out on your own. Talk to one of our psychiatrists to get help taking control of your anxiety.
Talkiatry is a national psychiatry practice that provides in-network, virtual care. Co-founded by a patient and a triple-board-certified psychiatrist, Talkiatry has over 300 doctors, 60 insurance partners, and first visits available in days. We treat patients with anxiety, depression, trauma, ADHD, and more. Get started with a short online assessment.
The information in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and should never be substituted for medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. If you or someone you know may be in danger, call 911 or the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 right away.
Dr. Austin Lin is a double board-certified adult and addiction psychiatrist who has been in practice for over 9 years. At the center of Dr. Lin’s clinical approach is a strong emphasis on establishing trust and using a collaborative approach to help patients develop an individualized and cohesive plan so that they are able to achieve their goals.
Dr. Lin's practice focuses on medication management. Typically, he offers this in conjunction with supportive therapy, motivational interviewing, and/or cognitive behavioral therapy in 30-minute follow-up visits. Occasionally, Dr. Lin may recommend that additional therapy is needed and ask that you bring a therapist into your care team in order to provide the best outcome.
Dr. Lin received his medical degree from St. George’s University School of Medicine. He went on to complete his residency in psychiatry at Harvard South Shore, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, where he served as Chief Resident and earned his 360° Professionalism award. He then had additional training in Addiction Psychiatry through his fellowship at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. After completing training, Dr. Lin has worked as an Addiction Psychiatrist and Director of Adult Services in the Trauma and Resilience Center (TRC) at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). He specialized in treating patients with a history of depression, anxiety, trauma, and substance use disorders.
Dr. Lin has held an academic appointment at UTHealth, and he has spent his professional career supervising and teaching medical students and psychiatry residents.