Witnessing a loved one undergo anxiety disorders is never easy. The intense reactions to everyday situations can seem excessive from an outside point-of-view, making the person with the disorder feel isolated and poorly understood.
Trying to help can seem daunting, though, particularly if you’ve never experienced anxiety disorders yourself. The team at Wellness Road Psychology recommends these five points as a basis for supporting your loved one through the difficult times when they arise.
Unlike other illnesses, there aren’t always physical symptoms that accompany anxiety. Even when there are signs, these may not follow textbook definitions, and your loved one may have their own unique combination. Anxiety disorders may also occur in combinations. It’s possible to have more than one type of anxiety.
The signs and symptoms of anxiety are extensive, and they group into behaviors, thoughts, and physical symptoms. Some of the most common include:
- Avoiding situations that trigger anxiety
- Irritation and frustration that arises easily
- Doubtfulness and second-guessing
- Compulsive behaviors
- Constant worry
- Expecting the worst of any situation
- Making negative assumptions based on little information
- Short, shallow breathing
- Fatigue without obvious reason
- Nausea and diarrhea
It’s sometimes difficult for your loved one to express what they’re thinking and feeling, so your observations of behaviors, actions, and responses may provide the best clues.
5 ways you can help a loved one with anxiety
Bringing love, dignity, and respect into your interactions with an anxiety sufferer is key to being helpful. Consider that they feel adrift in their helplessness, and try to be a point of stability that they can count on.
- Validate their anxiety: be sure to express that you accept their anxiety as valid, even if you wouldn’t react to a similar situation
- Express concern: when their anxiety contributes to negative behavior, let them know you’re sincerely concerned about their well-being
- Be there: it can be frustrating for you to have no tangible contributions, but your presence may be enough on its own to help your loved one through an anxiety attack
- Recognize your limitations: often, you can only suggest or offer help, so recognize the point where you can’t force their actions
- Suggest and support professional care: help your loved one seek professional help, and support them through rides, appointments, and follow-up
Wellness Road Psychology offers in-person and telehealth appointments. As anxiety specialists, they’re well-placed to help your loved one when they’re ready to accept your suggestions. Share contact information with your loved one or help them arrange a consultation. They can reach the nearest location by phone or online. Help them book their appointment today.