It is a simple fact of life that most people will experience some form of anxiety in their life. The nervous, slightly fearful feelings before an interview or big meeting, or before entering a situation you would prefer to avoid are normal parts of being human.
But it’s when these feelings of fear and worry persist for extended periods and become a daily occurrence that they can start to negatively affect a person’s life more seriously, and this type of anxiety is classified as an anxiety disorder.
And it is far more common than most people think, with studies showing that anxiety disorder affects around 14% of the Australian adult population in any one year. Anxiety disorder can be debilitating for sufferers, but it’s also the carers – friends and family of people with anxiety disorder – that often find it difficult witnessing and assisting someone they care about deal with the disease.
It can leave carers feeling helpless, not knowing how to deal with the situation and what you should do to try to help.
If someone you care about suffers from anxiety disorder there are things you can do to make it easier for them to cope. Below I have listed some of these valuable tips to help both you, and the person suffering anxiety better deal with the illness.
If you’re reading this article, you’ve made a great start)
The first and most important step is to learn more about anxiety disorder. This will help you understand what your loved one is going through so you can recognise it for what it is, a real clinical disease that can affect people’s mood and behaviour, and which they often have no control of.
There are also many great resources for friends and family of people suffering mental illness such as The Beyond Blue Guide for Carers. This valuable resource includes vital information for carers and relatives of people who have either just been diagnosed, are recovering, or are in the early stages of anxiety.
Recognise The Symptoms
Being able to recognise the symptoms of anxiety is crucial for friends and family. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- An irrational and ongoing sense of worry or impending doom
- The inability to relax, uneasiness and irritability
- Difficulty sleeping
- Unable to concentrate or focus for extended periods
- Sudden and unprovoked feelings of panic
- Physical sensation such as breathlessness, dizziness, palpitations and sweating
Talking To Your Loved One
If you have begun to notice some of the above symptoms, or your loved one has had a formal diagnosis of anxiety disorder, it important that first and foremost you are there to offer support. Finding a calm convenient time to gently bring up the subject requires careful thought and at first they may not wish to discuss it.
If this is the case don’t push the subject as this can increase the feelings of anxiety.
Obviously the closeness of the relationship will play a big part in how you approach the subject but when first talking to the about anxiety try not to offer to much advice, unless asked, as they may simply prefer to talk about about what they are feeling and this is a great start.
Once your loved one is feeling more comfortable talking to you about the subject and you have shown you are a good listener who will not judge or try to “fix” them, you can start to go deeper into the issues.
By following the simple guidelines below you will avoid making their anxiety worse and help to guide them and assist them in finding a lasting solutions to relieve their anxiety disorder.
How To Help Someone With Anxiety
- Be willing to take time to talk about their experiences
- Be a friendly, non-judgemental listener
- Let them know that it is a real disease, that it very common and can be overcome with effective treatment
- Gently let them know about some the changes you may have noticed in their behaviour, feelings and emotions, without being critical
- Offer possible solutions like seeing a doctor or an anxiety specialist
- Offer to come with them to make and attend an appointment
- Be sure to always check in on the and be sensitive to times when they may be experiencing anxiety
- Be someone they can talk openly about their feelings to
- Encourage good habits such as getting enough sleep, daily exercise and eating healthy
- Encourage other good habits that can calm the mind such as deep breathing, yoga and meditation. Help them find resources for this
- Help them get over any fears about seeking professional help
- If they become a threat to themselves or others, contact a doctor or hospital immediately
Some things you must try to avoid doing:
- Try to tell them to “just relax”, “calm down” or “get over it”
- Becoming distant and not visiting or calling
- Encourage bad negative solutions such as dealing with anxiety through drugs or alcohol
- Try to fix everything yourself or become their self assigned counselor
- Invite them into situations and events that make them anxious
- Do nothing and assume the problem will go away
Getting Treatment for Anxiety Sufferers
By becoming educated, recognising the symptoms, listening and following these “Do’s” and “Don’ts”, you will help your loved one through this difficult time and be a source of relief for them.
But it is important that people with anxiety disorder do seek professional help as soon as symptoms are recognised.
There are also some great, proven, drug free treatments available, such as the Brain Wellness Spa that have a 98% success rate* in treating anxiety. For more information about anxiety treatment click here.
Here at the Brain Wellness Spa we help people just like you to break free from the grip of anxiety and panic so that you can embrace life with confidence, clarity, certainty and a sense of knowing that you are safe and that everything is going to be OK. If you’d like to help someone you love but don’t know where to start, a visit to the Brain Wellness Spa could be the best opportunity for their health and happiness.
*Based upon a client self-assessment survey, results may vary from person to person