Anxiety is a pretty common mental health condition suffered by millions across the world. It is pretty easy to mask and is often thought of as a minor mental health condition compared to conditions like depression or schizophrenia, for example. 

But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Anxiety can be a crippling and debilitating condition that impacts people’s lives in multiple ways, from ruining their social lives to blocking people from professing their careers or simply carrying out day-to-day duties. And anxiety can hit over anything at any time. Social anxiety can render people helpless and trapped in their homes as the thought of being in crowded places or having to talk to people is too much to handle. Medical anxiety can cause people to think they have different illnesses or diseases when they feel a change in their health, or parents can have anxiety over their children getting hurt or sick, meaning they stop them living their lives to avoid this happening. Anxiety can take on many different forms and affect people in a multitude of ways. 

There are currently thought to be over 40 million adults in us suffering from anxiety. This is over 19% of the adult population. Meanwhile, around 7% of children are also living with anxiety, and most people have experienced this condition before they reach the age of 21.

Signs of Anxiety 

If you are worried you are struggling with anxiety or someone you love is living with anxiety that is severely affecting your life, then knowing the signs is part of the battle to getting the correct type of help. 

It is worth noting that there are different types of anxiety disorders that can cause different signs and symptoms. 

These disorders include;

Symptoms can include but are not limited to;

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What To Do If You Or Someone You Love Has Anxiety

Anxiety can be extremely obvious or really subtle, and it can replicate many other mental health conditions or be caused because of them. In the first instance, you need not be dismissive of anxiety and understand its implications on a person’s life before you can even try to help them.

Read up on the different types of anxiety, as mentioned above, and find out all you can about triggers, causes, signs, and treatment options. Being able to recognize the symptoms of anxiety and understand the condition fully can give you the best start possible when it comes to helping someone manage their anxiety.

Keep an eye out for changes in their behaviors, actions, or habits. Look at whether or not they are using substances to help them overcome their anxiety and any nervous little habits they might have developed. Anxiety and panic attacks are especially rarely present like they do in mainstream media. Panic attacks are often portrayed as noisy events where people struggle to breathe and are hyperventilating. While this can occur in most cases, the signs are more subtle. It can be jaw clenching, fidgeting, not being able to hold eye contact, breathing erratically, and becoming withdrawn. A person can become nauseous with the stress and trigger headaches, migraines, or vomiting episodes as the anxiety takes over.

The more you are aware of what it can look like, the easier it will be to pinpoint these actions in others, and you will then start to put plans into place to help.

The following tips can help you to broach the subject and start discussing anxiety with your loved ones to help get them on the road to recovery. By offering support, a listening ear, and being sympathetic, you can make progress and start enabling change.

Don’t Enable Behaviours

As hard as this can be, enabling someone to practice avoidance behaviors can help them let their anxiety take control even more. While you don’t want to push them headfirst into something they find terrifying, allowing them to avoid the situation completely won’t be helping them either. You need to find a starting point for exposing them to their fears, whatever it is. Let’s say it is separation anxiety from their child. In real life, there is no way they can be with their child 24/7 for their whole life. Start by having them spend short periods away from them in a different room with visuals on the child until they feel comfortable with this. Then start increasing distance and duration at a pace they can cope with.

Anxiety won’t go away, so enabling them to practice these behaviors isn’t helping them. It is making it worse. As they avoid it for more prolonged periods, the fear and anxiety will grow, and their world will gradually become smaller as they are limited by their anxiety.

Don’t Force The Issue

Reiterating what was touched upon in the previous point, forcing the theme to do too much too soon will only backfire and compound their anxiety. Instead, it would be best if you built up to their fears slowly so they can acclimatize at their own pace.

Agoraphobia is the fear of open or crowded spaces where they’re unable to escape quickly. Forcing them into an area that scares them will only reinforce that they were right to be afraid. Instead, start small by having them stand in open doorways watching the world for a while, still standing in the comfort of their safe space. Then you can work on increasing exposure but without forcing it.

Recommend Professional Help

Living with anxiety can be incredibly isolating, and as a person works to remove triggers from their life, their world becomes smaller and more compact, so nothing is there that can harm them. A person may be exhibiting other behaviors or experiencing anxiety alongside other mental health issues exacerbating the situation. If this is the case, or even for anxiety without the presence of other problems, it is worthwhile recommending they talk to a professional to get the help they need. Therapists, psychologists, mental health professionals, or psychiatrists can all be helpful in getting professional help for anxiety. 

If you or your loved one has developed an addiction to help deal with anxiety, they will need treatment for this too. Around 20% of people living with anxiety also have substance abuse issues which have been developed as a way to help them develop coping mechanisms. In this case, Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers can be an excellent option to deal with the substance abuse and mental health conditions simultaneously.

Even if you cannot get them to talk to a mental health professional, talking to their primary care physician can get the ball rolling and get them on the right path for support and/or medication.

Provide Support and Validation

The last thing someone with anxiety wants to hear is another person belittling their fears. Saying things like “I can’t believe you’re afraid of this” or “Why are you worrying over something so silly” won’t help the situation. Instead, try to get to the bottom of the fear. Ask them why they’re afraid of this thing and what they feel will happen as they confront it by understanding their thought process a little bit more and learning about how their brain processes their fears and triggers the responses.

Let them know you have noticed any changes in their behavior, such as avoiding going to certain places or doing certain things. Ask them why they are behaving in this way and if there is anything you can do to help them.

Seek Out Support Groups

There are countless support groups around the country that have been set up by charities, mental health services, and those also living with the same types of conditions. Those who also struggle with anxiety can be a source of comfort for themselves or their loved ones and let you feel less alone in their struggles. Being able to talk to someone who has or is experiencing the same anxiety can be a relief for some people. 

Here they talk about different things relating to their anxiety, find out different coping mechanisms, and get support when they are struggling.

Conclusion

Anxiety can really take over a person’s life. It can be all-consuming and manifest itself in various different ways. While anxiety is often brushed off and treated like the equivalent of a paper cut, it can have far-reaching consequences on a person’s life and drastically reduce their quality of life. For this reason, you need to find the right way to approach the topic to support them in the best way possible. The best thing to remember is to remain calm and keep your eye on the goal, which is helping them to get the help they need and to break the hold anxiety has over them and how they live their life.

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