We all occasionally worry and experience fear. However, those who suffer from anxiety may feel paralyzed by fears that others may find irrational. Many individuals are unsure of the best way to assist someone who is experiencing anxiety because it can be challenging to relate to these concerns.
People who are anxious are frequently dismissed. You might be able to observe the physical symptoms of various medical conditions. With anxiety, though, you may not always be able to tell what the person is going through. So, even if it doesn't make sense to you, it's critical to be sensitive to what the person with anxiety is going through.
Ways to Help Someone With Anxiety
It can be stressful to watch a loved one experience panic attacks or experience anxiety every day, but there are things you can do to help. Start by identifying the warning signs of excessive worry and understanding the best ways to support your loved one.
1) Recognize signs and symptoms
Because anxiety is such a complex disorder, it may be difficult to define and diagnose it using a single set of general criteria. As a result, the disorder has been divided into a number of subtypes, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder.
Anxiety can manifest in a variety of ways and degrees of severity. However, the signs and symptoms are frequently the same. Increased heart rate, blood pressure, palpitations, perspiration, and headaches are a few of the physical signs. You can communicate with your loved ones more empathetically if you are aware of the various ways anxiety can manifest in different people.
2) Express concern
There isn't much you can do to significantly reduce the duration or intensity of a panic attack. You do not have to hide your concern if you find your loved one withdrawing from things they used to enjoy. Instead, it could be beneficial to speak to your loved one in a friendly and optimistic manner. You can start a conversation by mentioning that you've seen certain behavioral changes.
For instance, "Hey, I observed that you haven't been going to [insert location] and other social events. Could you please help me understand this?" Afterwards, depending on how the discussion goes, you might inquire if they require assistance or support in managing their anxiety.
It is crucial to have open communication with someone who has a mental health disorder. If possible, schedule regular visits with them as this will aid with anxiety management. Spend one-on-one time with them to give them the chance to discuss any worries they may have. Additionally, you can stay in touch with them by calling, texting, or calling them on a video call once per week to see how their week is going. Ask for their preferences and ways in which you can support them.
4) Avoid putting pressure on them
Try not to pressure the individual to enter situations or go to places that give them a great deal of anxiety. They should gradually strive towards this with the assistance of a trained therapist. If you try to push them too far, it could erode your relationship's trust and put a lot of stress on them.
Lack of interest in hobbies, employment, or social activities can contribute to extreme levels of anxiety. Keep in mind that if your loved one isolates themselves from friends, family, or other social interactions, it's because they are experiencing a gloomy spell caused by a mental health disorder.
5) Avoid enabling
It's natural to take extra precautions to avoid putting your loved one in an unpleasant position or situation. This appears to be incredibly thoughtful and sweet at first glance. However, anxiety typically persists even after you do this. If people consistently avoid confronting challenging situations, anxiety eventually increases, and special requests for accommodations rise.
If you repeatedly make changes to your behavior or the environment to satisfy your loved one's worries—concerns that are harmful to them—you risk unintentionally allowing the anxiety to persist and get worse. Avoiding challenging situations prevents your loved ones from facing their problems and developing coping mechanisms for anxiety. Instead, it makes their world smaller as their abilities are increasingly constrained by their growing anxiety.
It's time to get professional assistance if your loved one's anxiety starts to interfere with their ability to enjoy life, interact with others at work, school, or other social gatherings, or if it starts to cause issues at home. Remind a loved one to schedule a consultation with a mental health professional in addition to offering personal support. According to research, an individual's anxiety disorders are more likely to be overcome with psychotherapy and social support.
Janvi Kapur is a counselor with a Master's degree in applied psychology with a specialization in clinical psychology.
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