When Is My Anxiety Harmful
Identifying what sort of anxiety youre dealing with can be somewhat challenging because how ones body reacts to perceived danger can be entirely different compared to another person.
Its likely you heard anxiety as a blanket term for that general feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease. Its often a feeling in response to an upcoming event that has an uncertain outcome.
Every person deals with it at one time or another, because its part of our brains response to a perceived danger even if that danger isnt real.
That said, there are times anxiety can get serious and turn into anxiety attacks that initially feel manageable and then gradually build up over a few hours.
Dealing With Anxiety On A Daily Basis
Learning To Be Assertive
Being assertive means communicating your needs, wants, feelings, beliefs and opinions to others in a direct and honest manner without intentionally hurting anyones feelings. A person with an anxiety disorder may have trouble being assertive because they are afraid of conflict or believe they have no right to speak up. However, relating passively to others lowers self-confidence and reinforces anxiety. Learning to behave assertively is central to developing a stronger self-esteem.
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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, and you dont have to compare your experiences to theirs to show them that you understand what they feel.
If you dont know what its like to have severe anxiety, be honest about that. But also let them know that you know its real for them and you want to be there to support them however you can.
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.
How Do I Know If My Child Has An Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety-related problems in children share four common features. The anxiety:
- Is typically a fear or fixation that interferes with the ability to enjoy life, get through the day or complete tasks.
- Is puzzling to both the child and parents.
- Does not improve after logical explanations to address the worries.
- Is treatable.
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Take Care Of Yourself Too
Recognize that your goal is to help, not to cure the person or relieve them from their anxiety. Taking too much responsibility is actually a symptom of anxiety, so make sure youre not falling into that trap yourself.
Keep in mind that your support doesnt need to be directly focused on anxiety. For example, exercise is extremely helpful for anxiety so perhaps you could simply offer to go for a walk or attend a yoga class together. Its also fine to put some limits on your support. A 20-minute de-stressing conversation while taking a walk is far more likely to be useful than a two-hour marathon discussion.
Helping someone with anxiety isnt always easy and you may feel like youre getting it wrong. But, if you remind yourself that you and your loved one are both doing your best, it can help you keep things in perspective. Its important to remain compassionate and, as the saying goes, to put on your own oxygen mask first. That way, youll have a clearer head for figuring out whats going on with your anxious loved one and how you can truly be of help.
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What Is An Anxiety Disorder
An anxiety disorder is defined as anxiety that grows worse over time and is more than just the occasional challenge or normal reaction to everyday circumstances. It is anxiety or fear of anxiety that interferes with everyday life, causes needless pain, and ultimately sucks the enjoyment out of living. Anxiety disorders do more than just annoy they also make it harder to work, enjoy our relationships with loved ones, or function in society.
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Help Them To Help Themselves
Another way to support a loved one with anxiety is to educate yourself on effective coping tools and skills. That way you can encourage them to use the tools when they are anxious, Darsa says.
In this way, you are supporting them to help themselves become calmer in moments when they feel their anxiety is worsening.
For instance, you might teach them grounding exercises that help redirect their focus away from whatever is making them anxious back to the here and now.
One grounding exercise suggested by the University of Toledo Counseling Center is to focus on their immediate physical environment and then name:
- Five things they see
Reassure Her That Shes Going To Be Okay
Anxiety can create one of the strongest physiological, psychological, and emotional responses the body can produce. This strong response can create intense emotions, feelings, sensations, and symptoms. This is why in the midst of high anxiety, a person can feel like she is going to lose her mind, have a complete breakdown, or die.
Even though anxiety can feel powerful, fortunately, it alone is not dangerous and doesnt lead to a mental collapse, breakdown, or death. Once the person calms down, all of these strong emotions, feelings, sensations, and symptoms diminish and eventually subside.
Consequently, when a person is having an episode of high anxiety, reassuring her shes going to be okay can help her calm down, which will lead to the cessation of the strong feelings of anxiety.
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Write Down Your Thoughts
Writing down whats making you anxious gets it out of your head and can make it less daunting.
These relaxation tricks are particularly helpful for those who experience anxiety sporadically. They may also work well with someone who has generalized anxiety disorder when theyre in a bind!
However, if you suspect you have GAD, quick coping methods shouldnt be the only kind of treatment you employ. Youll want to find long-term strategies to help lessen the severity of symptoms and even prevent them from happening.
Exploring Treatment Options For Anxiety
Professional help is by far the most effective treatment option for anxiety. Experts can help you find the most effective treatment solution for the person you are helping. Nonetheless, one treatment option doesnt fit all. Thus, you have to explore and research as many treatment options as possible for anyone with anxiety. Below are some of the best treatment options that work for people with anxiety.
1. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
Also known as CBT, cognitive therapy helps in rewiring anxious brains. CBT is evidence-based, and numerous studies show how effective CBT is in treating various medical conditions. CBT is a treatment that combats the thought patterns that lead to anxiety.
Negative thought patterns and inaccurate thoughts are potential causes of false perceptions among people with anxiety. CBT helps in lowering stress levels and reducing signs of anxiety.
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2. Anxiety Medication
Anxiety medications are prescribed with other therapeutic approaches, including CBT. Anxiety medications are the first option of treatment among persons with anxiety. These drugs are among the most effective medications for anxiety:
These are sedatives that ease the effects of anxiety medications. These sedatives also help with reducing muscle tension that results from anxiety disorders. Some of the drugs in this category include Valium, Ativan, and Xanax.
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How Can You Help Someone Who Is Suffering From An Anxiety Disorder
Watching a friend experience an anxiety disorder is a terrifying experience, as you will likely feel completely paralyzed in terms of your ability to help them. There is little worse than watching a friend experience anxiety and not being sure what to do. Thankfully, there are things that you can do.
Create A Friendly Environment
The atmosphere in our work environment can often dictate the mood amongst employees. Toxic work environments can fast become breeding grounds for anxiety disorders or depression and can often stem from an unhealthy workplace culture. This can come from a whole variety of sources such as negative culture, poor relationships or disorganised processes to name a few.Ultimately, an employer must recognise that employee wellbeing is impacted by everything. Businesses must start by adopting a truly supportive stance surrounding mental health and wellbeing, tackling stigma within the business and reviewing the existing culture and workplace practices that might negatively impact the working environment.Never overlook the impact of culture . Employers must focus on creating a warm, friendly environment that creates a sense of belonging and understanding. Lead by being supportive and do everything you can to ensure employees dont feel alone with their challenges, especially around mental health. One of the best ways to demonstrate this support is by having leadership share their own mental health story. When it comes from the top down, it changes everything.
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But Dont Become A Psychologist
and start diagnosing them or trying to give advice beyond your knowledge that is best left to the professionals. Just listen to them, believe everything they tell you and let them know youll love and support them every step of the way.
Dont force treatment on them, but remember to seek further help immediately if theyre feeling suicidal or showing no willingness to get better if you feel there is a risk of immediate danger tell a trusted adult or call 999.
You can always contact Ditch the Label or other charities like Samaritans or Mind if you feel you need guidance on this matter. Supporting someone with depression can be stressful and frustrating so be careful not to neglect your own needs too.
Taking time to look after yourself is really important talk to others about how youre feeling or consider joining a local support group with people who are also in a similar situation to you.
Provide Safe And Comforting Physical Touch
Im a big advocate for skin-to-skin contact. We live in a culture thats starved for physical affection. We all crave it, and we all need it. A warm hug, a cuddle session on the couch, or holding hands tells your loved one, When youre with me, youre safe.
Skin-to-skin contact isnt just for newborns, and it often isnt sexual. Offering safe and affectionate physical touch is a powerful way to calm anxiety. Skin-to-skin contact reduces heart rate, which is one of the physical manifestations of anxiety. Physical touch also has the power to erase feelings of loneliness and disconnection.
Of course, physical touch will look different depending on the person youre comforting. It could be holding hands with your spouse and looking them in the eye. It could be a tight, 60-second hug with a friend .
It should go without saying, but before you touch anyone struggling with anxiety, even your spouse, ask their permission. Since anxiety is an alarm signaling a lack of control, reaching out to touch someone without their permission could make them feel like theyre not in control of their own bodies. In an effort to help, you may make things worse. Gently extend your hand as an offer for them to take your hand. Kindly ask, Will you walk with me for a moment? Or you might ask, Do you mind if I put my hands on your shoulders? or Can I hug you? If someone isnt interested in your touch, dont take it personally. Respect their independence and move on to the next step.
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What To Say To Someone With Anxiety
If your loved one feels comfortable discussing their anxiety, use active listening techniques to show you understand how they feel and that it makes sense. You could use phrases such as:
- How can I help you?
- I’ve noticed you’ve been anxious recently, and I’m worried about you
- No matter what, I’ll always be here for you
- Do you want to go for a walk and talk about it?
Recognize When Your Friend Is In Trouble
Its important to remember that if your friend is experiencing an anxiety attack, they may not be willing or able to talk about it. Anxiety can take over someones brain in a funny way and make help-seeking behaviors difficult to engage in. As such, you should try to recognize when your friend is having anxiety issues. There are a variety of symptoms that can demonstrate when someone is having an anxiety attack, and these symptoms may manifest themselves in ways that are physical, emotional, or cognitive. Make sure to recognize these symptoms so you can tell when your friend is in pain.
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Quick Read Anxiety Support 101
- Theres a difference between normal, everyday anxiety and having an anxiety disorder.
- If an anxious friend decides to confide in you, show you support them.
- Validate, rather than minimize, their experience.
- If you dont have an anxiety disorder, avoid offering advice without listening to your friend.
- Tell them youre there for them, ask how you can help and listen to what they have to say.
Its never not awkward telling someone I have anxiety disorders. And Ive had to tell a lot of people: friends, family, supervisors, dates.
Opening up to others can be validating and freeing, but its always stressful at first because I dont know how theyll respond. Being stereotyped or treated insensitively when youre struggling can be nerve-wracking, especially if you already get down on yourself for having anxiety.
What Ive learned in my many years of coming clean is that most people mean well. They dont want to say the wrong thing, but it can be hard for them to know the right thing to say if they dont know much about anxiety.
While everyone experiences anxiety, people experience differing degrees of severity, says Ty Lostutter, a clinical psychologist who specializes in anxiety and treats patients at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance at South Lake Union.
Anxiety is normal and healthy. It keeps us safe and motivates us, Lostutter says. It only becomes a problem when someone becomes overly anxious and it interferes with daily life.
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.
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Tools To Help You Cope With Anxiety
One of the most important things to remember about anxiety coping is that coping actually happens inside of you. There are many strategies to help you cope, but what will eventually help you cure your anxiety forever is your own mental strength. Everyone has it, but it often requires taking care of your body and re-training your mind for how you should react to anxiety and stress.
Still, the following will help promote better coping, and give you an opportunity to control some of the issues that lead to anxiety symptoms:
These things may not cure anxiety on their own, but they will help you learn to control the way anxiety affects you, and you’ll often find that they assist your ability to mentally cope – in some cases enough to cure it completely.
What Else Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider
If you have an anxiety disorder, ask your provider:
- Whats the best treatment for me?
- Do I need medication? What type?
- How long should I take medication?
- What type of psychotherapy will work best?
- What else can I do to manage my symptoms?
- What other conditions am I at risk for?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
An anxiety disorder can make it difficult to get through your day. Anxiety disorder symptoms include feelings of nervousness, panic and fear. You may also have physical symptoms such as sweating and a rapid heartbeat. But you dont need to live like this. Several effective anxiety disorder treatments are available. Talk to your healthcare provider to figure out your diagnosis and the best treatment plan. Often, treatment combines medications and therapy. Anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants, together with CBT, can help you feel your best.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/17/2020.
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