Anxiety affects everyone; however, for millions of Americans, anxiety can turn into a disorder and even advance to a panic disorder, which can result in debilitating consequences. Discover how enlisting family support can make all the difference when someone is struggling.
What is an Anxiety Disorder?
When the fight or flight response takes over when faced with a threat–whether real or imagined– it causes several physical, mental, and behavioral changes in a person’s body. This is a natural reaction since it allows us to prepare for danger. When anxiety is chronic and debilitating, it’s labeled as an anxiety disorder. Some of the symptoms can be so intense that it interferes with a person’s capacity to deal with life.
Usually, anxiety accompanies depression, with alternating feelings of being up and down, akin to a rollercoaster. Symptoms in both can overlap and vary from person-to-person. Symptoms of an anxiety disorder may include:
- A chronic state of anxiety
- Body sensations that include breathlessness, dizziness, sweating, palpitations, and an overwhelming sense of doom
- Sleep disturbances or disorders
- Difficulty concentrating
- An overwhelming feeling of panic
- An unreal or changed perception of the world feeling (in a panic attack)
If you or a loved one struggles with these symptoms, enlisting the help of family can do wonders in feeling safe and getting treatment.
Society still stigmatizes people with mental illness, and anxiety, although not categorized as one, can result in irrational thoughts and actions. Because of this mentality, loved ones may be afraid of telling their family for fear of being labeled as “crazy,” or worse, ignored or brushed aside for their feelings. It’s crucial for family members to love and support someone going through anxiety.
The first thing to remember is that anxiety sufferers feel hopeless and even helpless with their condition. They may fear certain situations or places that trigger their anxiety. For a non-sufferer who doesn’t understand, they may do more damage by not believing or taking anxiety seriously.
Tips for Helping Family Members
Supporting family members with anxiety is crucial to them overcoming the condition. Talking with them about their feelings should be the first step. At this stage, listen and try not to impart your advice or wisdom. Keep in mind; this conversation may be incredibly hard for them, so don’t judge or berate them. Eye contact and body language say a lot, so lovingly touch their shoulder or take their hands, so they feel safe and comfortable.
What to Do
Here is a list of supportive things you should do to help a family member with anxiety, which includes:
- Letting them know you’re there to listen and be of support
- Highlighting the option of getting medical treatment or counseling
- Going with them to the doctor or health professional
- Encouraging them to face their fears with the help of yourself and a health professional
- Encouraging them to use self-help strategies that include deep breathing, meditation, self-talk, etc.
- Helping them find information about their condition
- Checking with them after their appointment to see how it went
- Not judging if they decide they need therapy or medication
- Contacting a doctor if they self harm or become a threat to a family member
- Talking them down from an anxiety attack by being calm and supportive.
What Not to Do
You mustn’t say or do things that are unhelpful or make matters worse, such as:
- Assuming the problem will go away if they only chilled out
- Pressuring them to “just relax or “calm down”
- Assuming you can reduce their anxiety on your own
- Staying away from or avoiding your loved one
- Helping them avoid triggers
- Urging them to take a pill or rely on harmful vices to cope, including alcohol or illicit drugs
It is essential they eventually learn coping skills in dealing with their anxiety, but it will take time, so be patient.
Contact Ardu Recovery Center
If you’re loved one is struggling with more than just occasional anxiety, please get in touch with us. Our team of caregivers are well-trained and experienced in caring for and supporting those who have mental challenges. Our customized programs ensure they’re adequately cared for and treated, so they can get back to enjoying life once again.