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How To Describe Anxiety To Someone

Words To Describe Anxiety

Real Therapist Fake Therapy #2: How to explain anxiety to someone

Anxiety is a feeling of fear, worry, and uneasiness. It can cause physical feelings such as nausea, stomach upset, dizziness, dry mouth and tension.

Everyone experiences stress and anxiety at some point in their lives.

Anxiety is normal when faced with difficult or stressful situations.

Living with a long term health condition, such as a lung condition, poses different challenges day-to-day.

For some people living with anxiety or panic can affect some or all of the things you do.

Instead Say: Ive Noticed Youve Been Anxious A Lot Lately And Im Concerned

If you notice your friend getting more and more anxious and you know they havent sought any kind of professional help, its OK to express your concern if it comes from the heart. Focus on how youve seen the anxiety change them: maybe they arent going to concerts anymore even though they used to love live music, or they havent been socializing as much and youre worried about them being lonely. If theyre open to getting help but feel overwhelmed, offer to do some research on good therapists or to wait for them in the lobby during their first appointment. Remind them that anxiety is treatable, even without medication, and that this isnt something they have to fight alone.

If someone confides in you that theyre feeling anxious or having a panic attack, the most important thing to remember is that the feelingsand telling you about themare a big deal. It takes trust to show that kind of vulnerability. Listen and respond in a way that doesnt minimize their experience.

There are definitely times when I havent been heard, when my anxiety has been dismissed or questioned. Ive been subjected to jokes about how me and my fellow Millennials are the Xanax generation or how Im only anxious because U.S. culture is in an age of anxiety, as though everyone feels exactly as I do so I should just suck it up.

If Your Loved One Is Struggling With Depression Or Anxiety Supporting Them Doesnt Mean Youre Making It Too Easy Coddling Or Enabling

Yes, your fears may feel valid. If you dont support someone who is experiencing depression and anxiety to move past these emotions and the issues that cause them, are they ever going to get better? But the key here is support.

Pushing or challenging them can exacerbate an already stressful situation and make them feel worse. Here are some ways you can support someone who has anxiety and depression:

Read Also: How To Help Someone Having An Anxiety Attack

It Can Feel Like You’re Anticipating Danger All The Time

Anxiety disorders typically involve a disordered view of threats in the world. If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, it may feel like threats to your physical and mental safety are frequently present but you may not be able to see them right away you may not know when they’re going to turn up, and feel like you have no mechanism for predicting them. It’s like being in a hair-trigger environment. The adrenal fight or flight response is, in this situation, always close to the surface, and the mind truly believes it’s the safest way to protect itself.

The feeling that there is looming danger that we’re not readily prepared to handle is the unifying theme in anxiety disorders. Obsessive compulsive sufferers may develop particular rituals and patterns to “protect against” or “neutralize” these threats people may experience panic attacks or serious terror in reaction to them others may feel constant levels of anxiety all the time and still others will associate certain innocuous events with deeply troubling things and want to escape them immediately. But no matter what your particular situation is, this feeling of danger remains a theme across anxiety disorder: some part of the brain of the anxiety disorder sufferer is convinced that particular situations are hugely, horribly threatening â and that part of the brain begins strategizing about how to stay safe, even when its ideas of safety and danger don’t necessarily square with the reality of what is going on around you.

What Is Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety

Social anxiety disorder is a common type of anxiety disorder. A person with social anxiety disorder feels symptoms of anxiety or fear in certain or all social situations, such as meeting new people, dating, being on a job interview, answering a question in class, or having to talk to a cashier in a store. Doing everyday things in front of peoplesuch as eating or drinking in front of others or using a public restroomalso causes anxiety or fear. The person is afraid that he or she will be humiliated, judged, and rejected.

The fear that people with social anxiety disorder have in social situations is so strong that they feel it is beyond their ability to control. As a result, it gets in the way of going to work, attending school, or doing everyday things. People with social anxiety disorder may worry about these and other things for weeks before they happen. Sometimes, they end up staying away from places or events where they think they might have to do something that will embarrass them.

Some people with the disorder do not have anxiety in social situations but have performance anxiety instead. They feel physical symptoms of anxiety in situations such as giving a speech, playing a sports game, or dancing or playing a musical instrument on stage.

Recommended Reading: Is Depression An Anxiety Disorder

Make A List Of Ways They Can Support You

You and your partner are a team! Work together to come up with ways you feel comfortable coping with and handling your anxiety. Teaming up can help you both be on the same page and feel good about managing your anxiety.

“Create a list of things they can do to help you cope as a strategy so they can feel they are taking part in supporting you,” says Silva. “That could be reminders about self-care, avoidance of triggers or techniques that reduce anxiety.”

How To Explain What Anxiety Feels Like

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in America. However, many people struggle to identify how their anxiety truly makes them feel. That is because anxiety- like all mental illnesses- is complex. It affects everyone differently, and the symptoms can vary dramatically from person to person.

Furthermore, some people do not quite understand how anxiety works. They may assume you are overreacting with your feelings or symptoms. They might also believe that you can just get over how you feel through willpower.

But if you struggle with anxiety, you know that you cannot just get over your thoughts. You also know that these thoughts may not always be rational or even helpful. Let us break down how to describe what anxiety feels like.

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Make It More Relatable

The thing is, everyone has a degree of anxiety. Everyone. Its human instinct to feel anxious in certain situations but when it gets to the point that its affecting your life thats when it becomes a problem. Try and find a situation that your friends & family have been through that made them anxious and compare that to your social anxiety. Explain that often it can feel as if youre about to start a new job every time you go into a social situation or something to that effect.

Last year I did a 2 hour talk for a photographic society and it was an insanely daunting experience but hugely compared to how I felt pulling up to school every morning when I was a teenager. No wonder I was so exhausted and desperate in high school if I was feeling like that every single day.

You could also ask them what their worst fears are, maybe they have a phobia of some kind and that way you can relate how your anxiety affects you in your daily life. Explain how you play out your worst fears constantly and it stops you from doing basic things.

Listen And Help Facilitate A Plan

How to Love Someone with Anxiety

If you know someone who is struggling with anxiety, reach out to them and provide support by just listening to what they have to say, says Catherine Richardson, LPC, a Talkspace therapist. If youre not sure how to start the conversation, Richardson says to ask them how you can help.

Let them know they can come to you when they feel anxious and that you would like to be there for them, she says.

Together, you can come up with a plan to facilitate this process, such as meeting in person, talking on the phone, or connecting online. Richardson also recommends asking them if there is something they enjoy doing like going to the park, going to a particular restaurant, or watching a favorite movie, that you could do together.

But most importantly, she says, encourage them to seek help if you feel like they are really struggling and could benefit from therapy.

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Instead Say: Im Always Here For You

You dont have to understand what your friend is going through to be there for them. Showing you care will help if your friend is self-conscious about their anxiety or has a hard time opening up about it. Listen without judgment to what they have to say and what their experiences are like. Being there for someone even when you cant relate is a powerful way of showing support.

Encouraging Your Partner To Work With A Therapist Or Try Couples Therapy

When you care for someone, its tempting to support them by trying to act as a surrogate therapist. The problem is youre not a therapist. Trying to play that role will be emotionally draining. It could make you resent your partner.

You are not responsible for providing therapy to your partner. This is why you should gently guide your partner toward working with a therapist. A therapist can help them improve how they deal with anxiety, in and outside a relationship.

If youre in a serious, long-term relationship, consider couples counseling. Some of the anxiety issues might be based in your relationship.

Working with a couples counselor can take the pressure off your partner. Rather than encouraging them to do something on their own, you are inviting them to join you in therapy.

What happens in couples counseling?

In couples counseling, you and your partner will gain insight into your relationship, learn how to effectively resolve conflicts, and improve your overall relationship satisfaction through various therapeutic techniques. Therapists will often assign tasks to the couple so that they can apply the skills learnt in therapy in their daily interactions. Most couples conclude therapy with a better understanding of their relational patterns and heightened communication skills, allowing them to continue their relationship in a much healthier, more fulfilling way.

Also Check: How Can I Get Rid Of Anxiety

Who Can Diagnose Anxiety Disorders

If your provider finds no signs of physical illness, they may refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist. These mental health professionals specialize in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses. They may use specially designed interview and assessment tools to figure out if you have an anxiety disorder. Typically, the provider bases a diagnosis on:

  • Your reported symptoms, including how intense they are and how long they last.
  • Discussion of how the symptoms interfere with your daily life.
  • The providers observation of your attitude and behavior.

Providers also consult the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders . The American Psychiatric Association publishes the DSM-5. Its the standard reference manual for diagnosing mental illnesses.

Explain How It Impacts The Small Things You Do Each Day

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People who don’t grapple with anxiety can have a hard time understanding how it complicates the small things you have to do every day, so I find that walking them through a specific situation that gives me anxiety, step by step, can be illuminating.

For me, email is an issue. A lot of my anxieties focus on social interactions, be they in person or online, with strangers or people I know well. And all these anxieties come to a head when I have to write a group email to, say, a group of coworkers whom I don’t know too well.

First, I write out the email, spellcheck it, all the normal stuff. Then I go through to make sure I didn’t use any words that I don’t totally know the meaning of, just in case I used them incorrectly, which I’m afraid would make my coworkers think I’m stupid. Then I go through again, word by word, and take out anything I could imagine anyone possibly misconstruing and getting offended by. Then I try to think of whether any of the ideas I brought up in the email could possibly be interpreted as stepping on anyone else’s toes, and I take those out, too. Then I go through again and try to find anything in the email that could be annoying that I somehow missed the first time. Then I walk away from my computer for 15 minutes and imagine all my coworkers getting the email, and becoming offended or annoyed with me anyway. Eventually, I send the email.

Recommended Reading: How To Overcome Social Anxiety

Can Anxiety Disorders Be Prevented

You cant prevent anxiety disorders. But you can take steps to control or reduce your symptoms:

  • Check out medications: Talk to a healthcare provider or pharmacist before taking over-the-counter medications or herbal remedies. Some of these contain chemicals that may make anxiety symptoms worse.
  • Limit caffeine: Stop or limit how much caffeine you consume, including coffee, tea, cola and chocolate.
  • Live a healthy lifestyle: Exercise regularly and eat a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Seek help: Get counseling and support if you experienced a traumatic or disturbing event. Doing so can help prevent anxiety and other unpleasant feelings from disrupting your life.

Compare It To An Experience They’re Familiar With

A lot of people who’ve never experienced anxiety imagine that it must be similar to what they felt before they gave a big presentation at work, or asked someone they really liked out on a date. And it might be a little like that, at times â but I feel like anxiety that you feel because you took a risk that might pay off later is different from the anxiety I experience on the regular. So I find that it’s helpful to explain anxiety in terms of a different kind of nerve-wracking experience that they may be familiar with.

To me, anxiety feels like being in a big, creepy house alone at night . You hear a noise that wouldn’t cause any real reaction if you heard it during the day at work â but hearing it alone in this big scary house makes your heart race and your body prepare for fight-or-flight. You become extra sensitive to everything else around you â sights, smells, whatever â because your body is trying to figure out if you’re threatened. I’ve found that explaining it in this way helps me better convey the emotionally-charged nature of my anxiety â and its trajectory, which is less “rise to a peak and then experience relief at the end” and more “get freaked out over and over again by the weird creaking noises until you eventually fall asleep.”

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