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How To Explain Anxiety To Someone

Anxiety And Panic Attacks

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

Explains anxiety and panic attacks, including possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping yourself, and guidance for friends and family.

This page is also available in Welsh.

Coronavirus is affecting all our lives, and we know that our usual advice may not currently apply. Some ways of looking after yourself or getting support might not be possible or feel realistic during the pandemic.

We hope that you can still find information here that helps. You can visit our coronavirus information hub to find lots of information on coping during the pandemic.

What You Need To Know If You Are Dating Someone With Anxiety

In order for you to understand someone with anxiety efficiently, you need to understand what it means to have an anxiety disorder. Knowing the signs of anxiety can help you realize when someone you love is having fearful thoughts or feelings and guide you on what you can do to help them and make them feel better.

Tip : Be Clear That This Is A Disorder

This isnt just you like stressing out or freaking out, and you cant just get over it. This is an actual medical disorder. Thats why theres counseling and treatment for it. I dont think the intention is to be invalidating when people make comments such as well, just get over it or just stop overthinking it, but it can be a typical response. Thats why its helpful to spell out that this disorder is persistent and has been consistent in your life. When it shows up, you sometimes struggle with it, which has caused interference in your life.

A caveat with this is that Im not in any way, shape, or form saying that you are your anxiety or your anxiety is part of your identity. Its helpful to have information to empower yourself, and I often find clients feel validated in having a label for their experience. And I want to be clear, you are not your anxiety and that its not an end all be all. Because your language-making mind can hold on to this label and over identify with it and convince you cant do things because you know you have anxiety. Yes, this is a disorder, and that, of course, youre not your anxiety.

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But The Bad Days Are My Normal

Part of what makes a day bad is what I call a nameless fear. Youre afraid, but you dont know why or what of. Its not anything rational. You simply feel scared, worried, anxious over something you just cant name. Its hard to come down from this, and it happens to me pretty frequently. Bad days are ones where you are scared, dont know why, and can do nothing other than to turn to your meds and hope. Lynda

Panic attacks, terror, obsessive anxious thoughts, inability to relax for long periods of time: Thats my mind in a constant state of anxiety. Anxiety to me feels like constant grinding or grating on my brain. Ive had to miss work or severely cut back on activities during bad anxiety times. I have definitely canceled things at the last minute with friends and family because anxiety was too overwhelming. Dana

It Can Feel Like Depression

How to support someone with social anxiety

Anxiety and depression share many symptoms, which is why they often occur together. With both conditions, a person may feel irritable, easily bothered, and emotionally sensitive. They may struggle with their appetite, sleep schedule, and ability to focus at school or work. On top of this, the individual might also have feelings of hopelessness and despair.

While depression is rooted in disappointment and apathy, anxiety is rooted in worry and fear. However, these conditions overlap due to struggles with control, perfectionism, and low self-esteem. A person with both might also struggle to maintain healthy relationships and may prefer to isolate themselves from loved ones.

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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:

Describe What Anxiety Is

Anxiety is a common emotional response that can affect all kinds of people, from the average joe to elite athletes.

It occurs when someone feels stressed or overwhelmed by a particular situation.

At its root, it can be caused by a variety of factors, including fear, stress, and even trauma.

But understanding what it is can be difficult if you’ve never experienced it yourself.

When trying to explain to someone who doesn’t understand it, there are a few key things to keep in mind.

First of all, it’s important to describe the physical symptoms of anxiety–such as rapid breathing and increased heart rate–so that your listener has some idea of what you’re feeling.

Additionally, you should focus on how it impacts your day-to-day life and how it makes you feel.

In short, when learning how to talk about anxiety effectively, it’s important not only to communicate the facts about this condition but also to share your own experience and personal feelings about this often misunderstood mental health issue.

Recommended Reading: Why Do People Have Anxiety

The Amount Of Work It Can Take

Living with anxiety can take a whole lot of work. To manage the very basics, such as getting dressed or making breakfast, we often have to battle through a never-ending stream of unhelpful thoughts and reason with the anxiety killjoy in our head.

Many of us learn skills to help us manage our anxiety. These skills could include things like learning how to manage our breathing, how to self-soothe, what our sensory needs might be and how to meet them, methods to manage the stream of thoughts in our head, such as different reasoning tools, things we can use to cope with our low-level anxiety such as fiddle toys, and different ways to manage times of high distress.

Living with anxiety can take so much learning, experimenting, and remembering to action the things weve learned at the time we need them . We often need to organise our life around the limitations of our coping, the things we have to do each day to keep us well, and any appointments we have. It can be a huge amount of work, and much of this work might be invisible.

What Are Panic Attacks

Explain Anxiety To A Non-Anxious Person

Panic attacks are sudden rushes of intense anxiety or fear together with frightening thoughts and physical feelings.

During a panic attack, a person may suddenly be overcome by strong fear and physical symptoms of anxiety, like a pounding heart, sweating, difficulty breathing, shaking, feeling dizzy or feeling sick. Panic attacks are usually short and often feel overwhelming. Someone experiencing a panic attack might feel like theyre having a heart attack or an asthma attack, or feel like theyre losing control.

Read Also: Why Do I Get Anxiety In The Morning

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Social Anxiety Disorder

When having to perform in front of or be around others, people with social anxiety disorder tend to:

  • Blush, sweat, tremble, feel a rapid heart rate, or feel their mind going blank
  • Feel nauseous or sick to their stomach
  • Show a rigid body posture, make little eye contact, or speak with an overly soft voice
  • Find it scary and difficult to be with other people, especially those they dont already know, and have a hard time talking to them even though they wish they could
  • Be very self-conscious in front of other people and feel embarrassed and awkward
  • Be very afraid that other people will judge them
  • Stay away from places where there are other people

How Can I Help Someone With Severe Anxiety

Do keep lines of communication open. When it comes to helping someone with anxiety, it is important to keep an open line of communication with them. Do look after yourself. Dont constantly talk about their anxiety. Dont enable their anxieties. Dont put pressure on them. Dont get frustrated. Dont expect immediate change.

Read Also: How To Deal With Sudden Anxiety

Is It Anxiety Or A Heart Attack

Anxiety isnt all in our head. It can come with numerous physical symptoms. Many of these could also be symptoms of something else. For example, a lot of anxiety symptoms, such as chest pain, numbness, and pins and needles, are things that people have also described experiencing when having a heart attack. In fact, its not uncommon for those with anxiety to present at A& E thinking that theyre having a heart attack.

The Desire To Numb Or Escape It Can Be Incredibly Tempting

Subtle Signs Of A Serious Anxiety Problem

It is no surprise that anxiety is closely connected with substance use disorders, eating disorders, and other process addictions like compulsive shopping, sex, or gambling. After all, nobody likes to feel uncomfortable- chronic anxiety often leads people down a path of self-medicating, numbing, or downright escaping.

While it is reasonable to avoid your feelings from time to time, chronically doing so tends to create more problems. For one, you dont address the issue . Second, you face the risk of complications arising from your compulsive behavior .

That said, it is important to remember that these desires arent random. They are a desire to escape the discomfort. When anxiety peaks, the distress can feel so overwhelming that you are drinking, using drugs, having sex, or overeating is the only viable solution.

Read Also: How To Get Rid Of Social Anxiety Forever

How To Explain Anxiety

Anxiety is complicated. It manifests itself differently in everyone. For some, it affects their physical health and creates overwhelming feelings of energy or restlessness. Others may feel emotionally drained, and some may not even notice these feelings. Because it manifests so differently from person to person, it can be difficult explaining anxiety to others. Below, well discuss how to explain anxiety in a way that accurately represents how youre feeling and what you may need in terms of support.

Why Should You Trust The Depression Project

With 1,000,000+ followers on Facebook, 1,000,000+ on Instagram, and our posts having been viewed over two BILLION times, The Depression Project is one of the world’s most popular mental health organisations.

And thankfully, our community love our work! Here are just a handful of the 5,000,000+ comments we’ve received on our posts:

Not only is The Depression Project well trusted and respected, but to completely put your mind at ease, like every other book, workshop and online course in our Depression School, How To Explain Anxiety To Your Loved Ones also comes with a no-questions-asked, 60 day, 100% money-back guarantee!

If you have any questions about How To Explain Anxiety To Your Loved Ones, then you’re welcome to email me directly at If not, then I hope you choose to read this book, because I know you’re going to find it really, really helpful.

All my love,

Recommended Reading: Have No Anxiety About Anything

Things To Do With Toddlers On Long Island

WhatToGetMy Instructional Article

  • If you have ever wondered how to explain anxiety to your partner, then this article is for you. It can be quite tricky to talk about anxiety with your partner especially when the relationship is relatively new and you dont know how they are going to react. However, explaining anxiety to someone you love should be standard and this article is going to guide you on how you can effectively do this.
  • The article also covers what to expect when you are dating someone with anxiety and how to set healthy boundaries around your relationship to make sure that your needs are also being met in the relationship, therefore, creating a healthy and balanced relationship.

How Do You Explain Anxiety To A Loved One

Explaining Anxiety To People Who Don’t Have Anxiety

Anxiety can be such a source of frustration in any relationship. As long as emotions are involved, anxiety will work its way in and complicate them. In romantic relationships, lacking a sense of freedom or safety makes it much more challenging to enjoy sex and intimacy. When loving someone with anxiety, its hard to be present and enjoy the moment when your worried about their, fears, and anxious thoughts pulling them away.

All of this might make sense to you, but when explaining anxiety to a loved one, try to keep the focus on sharing what helps. There will be times when your loved one believes that a particular emotional response is connected to them when its your anxiety. So help them to understand the difference by opening up about your triggers. Then talk to them about how they can help when you experience symptoms this includes informing them of what not to do.

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Creating A Safe Space To Discuss Anxiety

Whether you ask or deduce it after months of dating, there will be a point when your partner discloses they deal with anxiety. Its a crucial moment in the relationship, so be sensitive, have empathy and do not judge. Thank them for trusting you with this information that they have most likely have not shared with many people. See it as the beginning of a discussion you can resurface occasionally.

What Other People Think Anxiety Is Like

Anxiety can be difficult to understand which gives others a negative misconception of the illness. Here are some of the most common myths about anxiety:

  • Anxiety Will Go Away On Its Own

    Anxiety symptoms are persistent and will get worse if ignored. The severity of symptoms can fluctuate throughout a person’s life based on different situations or stages in their life.

    However, this does not mean it is no longer an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are chronic and persistent and if not treated properly, symptoms are likely to return.

  • Anxiety isnt that Common

    Anxiety disorders affect over 18 percent of the US population. This is approximately 40 million Americans every year. Only 37% of those suffering receive any form of treatment.

  • Dismissed as Negative Stereotypes

    It is common for people to dismiss anxiety and think it is just laziness, overreacting, its all in your head, being too sensitive or emotional, or seeking attention.

    These negative stereotypes cause people with anxiety to feel more alone which makes it difficult to share their struggles with others.

  • Just Stop Worrying

    If it was as simple as just stop worrying, no one would have an anxiety disorder. It is very difficult to overcome an anxiety disorder without help. There is no magic wand that you can use to just snap out of it or stop worrying.

    Overcoming anxiety takes time and effort to challenge irrational thoughts and behaviors so you can reframe those thoughts more rationally.

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