Anxiety is a feeling of fear, unease, and worry it can be classed as mild to severe.
Everyone has nervous feelings from time to time for example a job interview, or an exam these are normal feelings and we quickly get over them. A person with an anxiety disorder finds it hard to control these feelings. They feel anxious constantly and it affects their quality of life. Anxiety is the main symptom of a number of disorders such as
• Social Anxiety Disorder
• Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (acute or chronic)
• Panic disorder
• Generalised Anxiety Disorder.
Living with anxiety is restricting, frightening and debilitating, to help someone who suffers from anxiety you have to park everything you think you know about feeing anxious.
The list above is just a snapshot of anxiety disorders and it is impossible to generalise about how to support a family member with anxiety, for example when my anxiety strikes I do not want to talk about it, but I know others that find comfort in talking.
So the list below is just a guide, check first with your loved one or colleague, they have a brain and they know what they need.
What you can do
• Tell them they have your ear, it is up to them whether or not they take you up on that.
• Be supportive of the small things that are achieved.
• Keep them company without demands.
• Get outside with them and enjoy yourself without alcohol (it can cause setbacks)
• Look after yourself anxiety is exhausting for all concerned.
• Be forgiving
• Be reassuring (but don’t overdo it)
• Watch your body language, people with anxiety can be very intuitive.
What not to do
• Try not to get frustrated the sufferer doesn’t understand it either…
• Don’t walk away.
• Don’t make every decision based on the anxiety (irritating)
• Don’t keep asking ‘what are you anxious about’ (sometimes it is chemical)
• Don’t guilt trip – they may have promised but the anxiety has other ideas
• If you face a loved one having a panic attack, try not to panic!
• Don’t give up hope
• Don’t say you know how it feels, unless you have suffered with some form of anxiety, you have no idea.
Anxiety works by feeding itself, if a suffer is anxious about say social situations it can then bleed into talking on the phone or flying, it’s a bugger like that, but that’s how it works. If a sufferer starts to fear their own anxiety then the anxiety tends to grow.
Did you know?
A sufferer having a panic attack feels as though they are about to die, physical and emotional feelings are so intense, so severe it replicates a heart attack. It is both physically and mentally exhausting.
So next time someone explains to you that they suffer from anxiety, what are you going to do?
Useful links and more info.