What to do when Anxiety stops you from working

Those who suffer from anxiety disorders can experience many issues in the workplace. When anxiety stops them from working, it can be hard to try a different career path or know how to get treatment.

Below we’ll outline some steps to take and some treatment options to consider when anxiety stops you from working.

Consider treatment options

There are many treatment options for those with anxiety that they can complete while still working full time. Outpatient treatment is an option that many are familiar with, and many already have a therapist that they see weekly for anxiety-related concerns. When more in-depth treatment is needed, patients can attend an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP).

An IOP is a schedule of several hours of therapy, 2-3 times a week. There are evening schedules available as well. For example, at Salt Lake Behavioral Health, our IOP is Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 4:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

A partial-hospitalization program (PHP) is also an option if the patient works a swing shift. Partial hospitalization programs are similar to inpatient programs, but the patient leaves in the afternoon and sleeps at home.

Consider alternative careers

High-stress careers can increase anxiety – positions like first responders, military members, surgeons, and others. Consider a career shift if your current career is causing too much stress.

If social anxiety is a factor, consider positions that don’t require much social interaction, such as a vet tech, warehouse stocker or package deliverer.

Rule out work-related anxiety

Something to rule out when looking at this issue is whether the workplace is causing the anxiety or whether the person struggles with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD). It’s common to think that work-related anxiety would only occur with work-related events, but the truth is that experiencing high levels of stress at work can bleed over into home life and personal relationships. Being worn thin at work leaves little emotional energy for other tasks.

According to Stress.org, a 2018 survey showed that 76 percent of US workers said that workplace stress affected their personal relationships, and 66 percent endorsed sleep deprivation due to workplace stress. So even if anxiety appears in multiple aspects of life, a stressful work environment may be a major factor.

While it is normal to experience moderate stress at work, severe workplace stress is a major concern, and sometimes the symptoms can overlap with anxiety symptoms. According to Wrike, 94 percent of American workers reported experiencing stress at their workplace in 2019. Six percent stated that the stress was “unsustainably high.” If you consider yourself to be in an environment where the level of stress is unreasonably high, this may cause severe anxiety, and a career change might be in order.

Some individuals may find that after they have changed careers, their anxiety symptoms lessen or even disappear entirely.

Steps to Reduce Anxiety:

There are a few steps those with anxiety can take to reduce anxiety to possibly rejoin the workforce. Keep in mind that anxiety disorders vary in severity, and something that works for one individual may not work for another. But below we’ll list a few ideas of what to do when anxiety stops you from working.

Outpatient Therapy
As discussed above, seeing a therapist regularly has proved to be highly effective in the treatment of anxiety.

Medication is also a common way to manage anxiety, with some patients experiencing much success. Some patients are able to return to the workforce once they have had a medication adjustment.

Support groups
Support groups are a great resource for those struggling with anxiety as they can hear others’ experiences and learn from their stories. A patient may learn about a new coping skill, thought process, or resource that they may not have been aware of previously.

Yoga relaxes the body and the mind, and can create a structured time for meditation and reflection.

Coping skills practice
Other coping skills, art, music, exercise, sports, group activities, attending shows, gardening, volunteering, and many more can help patients feel more relaxed. Many of these pastimes can be turned into coping skills by creating a pattern or se

Support animal
Getting an emotional support animal has helped many patients cope with anxiety.

We hope that if you are asking what to do when anxiety stops you from working, that you’ve found some answers in this article. More information about anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and PTSD can be found in other articles on our blog.

If someone you know is experiencing acute anxiety that includes thoughts of harming themselves or others, seek help by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or by going to your nearest emergency room. Salt Lake Behavioral Health accepts walk-in patients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call 801-264-6000 to talk with an admissions staff member.