How Do I Help Someone Who Has Suicidal Thoughts
Suicidal thoughts should always be taken seriously. According to Lyons, you should, Follow up. Ask direct questions. Do they have a plan? Do they have a means to act? If so, respond. Let them know that what youre hearing is serious.
Even if your friend doesnt have a plan to act, Lyons still advises encouraging them to seek support from a professional.
She also recommends that you:
Sometimes people think that talking about it will motivate their loved one to act, but thats not how suicidal ideation works, Lyons says. Dont avoid the topic.
Don’t Enable Their Anxieties
When someone has anxiety, they may try to avoid certain places or scenarios. As a result, you may have started to modify your behaviour as well. For example, you may have started to avoid certain places or scenarios too, or may have started taking on tasks to help the person continue with their avoidance.
We understand that this may seem helpful as you are stopping the person from worrying in the short term, but this avoidance can actually have a negative impact on them in the long run. Their continued avoidance can perpetuate their worries and prevent them from recognising that they could actually manage in the scenarios that they are evading.
Dos And Donts Of Helping Someone With Anxiety
- It is challenging to love someone that lives with anxiety
- Some of the ways that friends/family try to help can make anxiety worse
- There are many dos and donts for those who have loved ones with anxiety
- Your support is going to be a big part of their recovery
- If you personally have never experienced an anxiety disorder, it is helpful to remember that the experience of living with anxiety is typically not what most people imagine
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Educate Yourself About Anxiety
More than 40 million American adults live with chronic anxiety. Its the most commonly experienced mental health condition in the US. Though its a highly treatable condition, sadly only about one-third of those with an official anxiety disorder diagnosis receive the treatment they need to manage their anxiety and live a full life.
Education is key if we want to get better at anything in life. This is especially true when looking for ways to help a loved one deal with the symptoms of their chronic anxiety. It can be extremely helpful to learn as much as possible about how to help someone with anxiety disorder. You can start by teaching yourself about what causes anxiety, common symptoms of anxiety, and effective management techniques.
Dont just learn by yourself, either. Learn alongside the person with anxiety who youre hoping to help. They need to know just as much information about their condition as you do. It might be helpful if they learn about some lifestyle changes that might help them decrease the frequency and intensity of their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Dont Overload Them With Questions
Its only natural to be curious about what your friend is feeling. But bombarding them with questions can be overwhelming AF.
A person having a panic attack is already flooded, says Lyons. It might be difficult for them to summon the executive functioning skills to answer your questions.
So, if you find yourself sounding more like Barbara Walters than a supportive friend, give it a rest. Give them a chance to open up when theyre ready.
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How Can I Help Someone With Depression
Depression is a serious but treatable disorder that affects millions of people, from young to old and from all walks of life. It gets in the way of everyday life, causing tremendous pain, hurting not just those suffering from it but also impacting everyone around them.
If someone you love is depressed, you may be experiencing any number of difficult emotions, including helplessness, frustration, anger, fear, guilt, and sadness. These feelings are all normal. Its not easy dealing with a friend or family members depression. And if you neglect your own health, it can become overwhelming.
That said, your companionship and support can be crucial to your loved ones recovery. You can help them to cope with depression symptoms, overcome negative thoughts, and regain their energy, optimism, and enjoyment of life. Start by learning all you can about depression and how to best talk about it with your friend or family member. But as you reach out, dont forget to look after your own emotional healthyoull need it to provide the full support your loved one needs.
Understanding depression in a friend or family member
Depression is a serious condition. Dont underestimate the seriousness of depression. Depression drains a persons energy, optimism, and motivation. Your depressed loved one cant just snap out of it by sheer force of will.
Don’t Constantly Talk About Their Anxiety
When you are with the person, or when you are talking to them over the phone, avoid constantly bringing up their anxiety or asking questions about it. Instead, keep the conversation flowing and let them talk about it if they want to. That way, they wont feel uncomfortable and pressured into discussing their anxiety when they dont want to.
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Dont Say: Why Arent You Seeing A Therapist/on Medication
Theres nothing wrong with showing concern for a friend, but be careful it doesnt come across as accusatory. Suggesting your friend should be doing something can create a sense of shame if they arent, or make them feel like theyre being judged. If they do need to see a mental health counselor or take medication, those are decisions they need to make on their own and at their own pace.
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 too!
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.
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People With Social Anxiety Dont Want To Be Alone
For people who have anxiety attacks, the fear of having one is often as debilitating as the attacks themselves. The person may fear having a panic attack in specific situations , or that they will experience one out of the blue.
If your loved one has a clinical anxiety disorder, and their anxiety feels out of control to them, they may worry theyre losing their mind or going crazy. They may see anxiety as a sign of being a weak person or doubt that there are effective therapies out there that will help them overcome their anxiety.
Communicate that you dont see their anxiety as a weakness, character flaw, or a sign of them being incompetent in their life, work, or other roles .
Normalize any types of thoughts you can relate to. There are many kinds of anxiety-based thoughts people with anxiety disorders experience that even relatively non-anxious people also experience from time to time. For example, most people can relate to the fear of being judged or of asking for something and being told no.
Also, its extremely common for anyone to have fleeting thoughts that theyll do something odd, dangerous, or out of character . Individuals with anxiety often dont realize that many people have these types of thoughts. People who are not especially anxious tend to write off the thoughts as just weird, whereas those who are anxious often equate having the thoughts with a real risk that they will act on one of their odd thoughts.
4. Beware the reassurance-seeking trap.
Caring For Someone Who Has Anxiety
Over the past few years, more and more attention has been given towards the mental health of Canadians.
Anxiety has been found to be the most common mental health problem in Canada with the Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada reporting that one in four Canadians a whopping 25 per cent will have at least one anxiety disorder in their lifetime.
If you are a family caregiver caring for someone with anxiety, there are different coping strategies that you may have already tried. You may have told them to just stop worrying. Perhaps you have tried to support the person by taking on the activity that the person has been avoiding.
For example, if the person is anxious about driving, going to the grocery store, or dealing with finances, you may have taken on these tasks and responsibilities. You may have thought that taking on these responsibilities would be a temporary fix until the person feels more comfortable.
The problem is when temporary fixes become the new normal and while well intentioned, these types of coping strategies dont assist the person in reducing or even managing their anxiety in the longer run. Also, if your strategy as a family caregiver has been to avoid the anxiety triggers for the person in your care , such as declining party invitations, you have by default made your own world smaller.
Making accommodations for the person in your care can actually increase the persons anxiety. Why?
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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.
Refrain From Telling Them What To Do Or How To Think
Although living with someone with anxiety can be challenging, avoid telling them how to think or feel. If they feel scared or worried, telling them they shouldnt feel that way and rationalizing wont make much of a difference.
Using reasoning often will make them feel worse since they have surely tried to do so already.
Studies show guilt and shame play a role in anxiety symptomatology. They probably already feel embarrassed, so dont add to it by sharing what they already know as it can make them feel more ashamed of their condition.
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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.
Understand The Symptoms Of Anxiety
Anxiety disorders arent only diverse, but these disorders also manifest themselves in multiple ways. Every person has their own experience of anxiety since anxiety varies from one individual to another. Thus, it is crucial to analyze and understand the signs of anxiety in the individual you want to help.
The ways you can help someone with anxiety will depend on their symptoms and signs. The brain of a person with anxiety is vigilant. Therefore, observe these common signs of anxiety given below:
- Being excessively tense
- Repeating certain actions
These symptoms of anxiety above dont vanish within months or even years. However, these symptoms tend to worsen over time. Therefore it would help to check the symptoms of anxiety mentioned above in the person you want to help to overcome anxiety.
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Understand The Signs Of Anxiety
Anxiety can manifest in many different ways and levels of severity. But the symptoms or signs are often the same. While not an exhaustive list, the following physical symptoms, anxious thoughts, and behaviors are some of the most common.
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Feelings of panic, fear, or nervousness
- Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
- All-or-nothing thinking
- A feeling of impending doom
- Difficulty concentrating
- Believing the worst will happen
- Problems falling or staying asleep
Tips To Manage Anxiety And Stress
Try these when you’re feeling anxious or stressed:
Fitness Tips: Stay Healthy, Manage Stress
For the biggest benefits of exercise, try to include at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity physical activity each week, 1¼ hours of a vigorous-intensity activity , or a combination of the two.
- 5 X 30: Jog, walk, bike, or dance three to five times a week for 30 minutes.
- Set small daily goals and aim for daily consistency rather than perfect workouts. It’s better to walk every day for 15-20 minutes than to wait until the weekend for a three-hour fitness marathon. Lots of scientific data suggests that frequency is most important.
- Find forms of exercise that are fun or enjoyable. Extroverted people often like classes and group activities. People who are more introverted often prefer solo pursuits.
- Distract yourself with an iPod or other portable media player to download audiobooks, podcasts, or music. Many people find its more fun to exercise while listening to something they enjoy.
- Recruit an exercise buddy. It’s often easier to stick to your exercise routine when you have to stay committed to a friend, partner, or colleague.
- Be patient when you start a new exercise program. Most sedentary people require about four to eight weeks to feel coordinated and sufficiently in shape so that exercise feels easier.
If you are the parent of a college-aged child with an anxiety disorder, here are some tips to help with managing his or her anxiety.
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