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How to Help Someone With Anxiety

To help someone with anxiety, you need to understand it from the vantage point of the victim, its causes, and how to recognize it in a person close to you. Anxiety is a normal body reaction to certain situations, precisely those which involve danger, pressure, or demanding, helping keep you alert and focused on that particular situation. It’s the feeling of worry or unease in the face of something with an uncertain outcome. Everyone has, at one point, had feelings of anxiety. Therefore, anxiety is not necessarily a bad reaction. It is part and parcel of normal body functioning. 

Some level of anxiety could be useful. It motivates you to accomplish tasks. For instance, the feeling of anxiety before a demanding exam motivates you to prepare well for the test. However, the feeling of anxiety before a date drives you to impress and put on your best behavior. 

However, certain levels of anxiety could prove harmful to your wellbeing. So, what makes the difference between normal anxiety and pathologic anxiety? There is no clear line to separate the two distinctly. 

Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety

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Anxiety manifests both emotional and physical signs. Generally, when these signs and symptoms exceed stimuli that trigger them, then they are signs of an anxiety disorder. The emotional symptoms include:

  • Excessive Worrying. Persons with anxiety will worry about daily matters. The worrying is often severe enough to interfere with their concentration in performing tasks. This persists over a prolonged period in months or years.
  • Edginess. Feelings of unease or the inability to relax are particularly common in younger populations. Just as in excessive worry, the feelings of discomfort persist for a long period, a sign of excess anxiety.
  • Getting Tired Easily. Though it sounds paradoxical (anxiety is more commonly associated with arousal), fatigue is sometimes a sign of anxiety. It can occur after an anxiety attack or as a constant and prolonged symptom. However, it has to be accompanied by excess worrying in order to be indicative of anxiety.
  • Lack of Concentration. It has been suggested that anxiety interferes with working memory. The more serious the anxiety, the more difficult it is to concentrate.
  • Feelings of Agitation. Episodes of anxiety are associated with physical signs precipitated by your sympathetic nervous system (the system that switches on your fight or flight response). This occurs in response to perceived danger, whether real or exaggerated. Increased heart rate, sweating, and shaking signify agitation.
  • Muscle Tension. Having tense muscles is frequently found in patients with an anxiety disorder.
  • Avoiding Social Situations. This is a well-known sign of social anxiety. It is accompanied by a feeling of fear and worries about being scrutinized hence becoming shy and quiet in social situations.
  • Irritability. Given that anxiety is associated with excessive worry, agitation, and frustration, it is unsurprising that anxiety patients are easily annoyed.

Causes of Anxiety

Anxiety is associated with genetic and environmental factors or a combination of both. Genetic factors that may lead to anxiety are related to the control of special parts of the brain that influence mood and emotions. 

Ecological considerations are numerous and involve stress factors such as workplace pressure, academic stressors, financial stress, or previous emotional trauma and depression. Other external causes include drugs like cocaine and the adverse effects of prescription drugs. 

It is important to know the cause of anxiety because eliminating environmental stimuli will help ease the symptoms and aid recovery.

What to Do When Someone Has Anxiety

As mentioned before, you are more well equipped to help someone with anxiety once you understand all the facts surrounding anxiety. You would probably notice a close friend with anxiety through their behaviors, such as avoiding social situations. A person with anxiety might be ashamed or even be in denial about their condition. Consequently, how you talk to them to open up is the first step toward recovery.

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Here is what you can do to help someone showing symptoms of anxiety.

  • Listen to them if they confide to you about their experiences without coming to any conclusion or belittling them. This helps them have an outlet to channel out the energy and frustration they may be having. Let them know that their experiences are valid.
  • If they are taking drugs or alcohol, discourage their use as these could either cause or contribute to their anxiety. This applies to the use of prescription medicine, albeit with the help of a qualified medical professional.
  • Engaging them in a fun physical activity and helping them get sufficient sleep generally improves their mental health outcome.
  • Present the figure that does not come with the stigma against mental illnesses as this is a major stumbling block to this group. Stigma is often the reason they prefer to keep the problem to themselves. Possibly, the thought of sharing their concern is a source of anxiety to them. Extend an olive branch to them and let them come to you.
  • Suppose one is having a panic attack, tell them to take deep, slow breaths to relax the mind, and quell the symptoms. Help them to a comfortable position or place as feeling safe also has a relaxation effect.
  • Since fear precipitates anxiety, you should not only encourage them to face their fears but also challenge them to perceive them differently. Do not let them feel alone in this walk. Give a helping hand.

Moreover, you should advise them to seek professional help. Attending therapy sessions and taking prescription drugs are some of the treatment modalities to anxiety disorders, especially if their condition is debilitating. If possible, attend the therapy sessions with them.

Novo Detox Center

Anxiety disorders are part of a diverse group of mental health disorders. Just like physical illnesses, mental health disorders like anxiety tend to be debilitating to your life. Your social life is disrupted, and emotional rife is not uncommon. This inevitably extends to your workspaces and institution of learning. 

This results in a cycle that worsens your anxiety and standard of living. Eventually, other mental illnesses, such as depression set in. Physical illnesses associated with stress, such as high blood pressure, could also set in. Therefore, it is important to tackle anxiety early and with the understanding that mental health illnesses are still neglected in the current society.

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Novo Detox Center is a prestigious detox center in Los Angeles, California. We offer alcohol, opiate, heroin, and other drug detox treatments, as well as co-occurring disorders such as anxiety and bipolar disorders. We provide comprehensive treatment plans that are tailored to meet your personal clinical needs. We focus not only on your physical treatment but also work to identify the underlying causes of a complete and permanent solution. Our medical professionals will work closely with you to determine the best way to deal with your anxiety-related conditions.

Excessive levels of anxiety are harmful. If your anxiety results in uncontrollable fear and worries to the extent that disrupts your daily life, then that is a clear sign of an anxiety disorder. Although officially classified as illnesses, society, in general, is yet to perceive them as true illnesses. Victims will more often than not fail to realize they are ill and in need of medical attention.

Key Takeaway

Anxiety is a normal body reaction to situations with uncertain outcomes such as perceived danger and demanding tasks. Most people experience anxiety proportional to the triggering stimuli. However, a fraction of the population experiences excess anxiety affecting their daily lives. 

The anxiety experienced exceeds the triggering stimuli and occurs over a long period. This harmful anxiety is a class within a larger group of mental health illnesses. Although recognized by the world health organization as illness, mental health remains in the shadows of acknowledged health problems in society.

Anxiety is caused by a complex interplay of genetic factors and environmental factors or both. The most common established external causes are stress factors due to work, school, finances, or past emotional trauma. A person suffering from anxiety can be recognized through their distinct behavior. For instance, avoiding social situations, feeling agitated, difficulty in concentration, tense muscles, irritation, and even panic attacks.

To help someone suffering from anxiety, it is important first to understand that stigma against mental illnesses is a stumbling block to them. It is important to help them open up and talk about their experiences. Validate their experiences and encourage them to face their fears with a different perspective. Encourage them to seek professional help. 

Walk with them to therapy sessions, exercise with them, and guide them in taking breathing exercises when having panic attacks. Be an ambassador—the campaign against stigma facing people with anxiety disorders and other mental health illnesses. Though not immediate nor direct, this will help that person you know struggling with anxiety.

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