Anxiety is a serious issue that people have to deal with. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Often, the first steps toward treatment involve managing the symptoms, but the whole condition may become even more of a challenge to treat in the long run, and no resolution can be reached. This is why treating anxiety should begin with the cause, with the patient receiving continuous support from family and friends.
Learning how to help someone cope with anxiety isn’t something that should be rushed. There are many ways in which a person can learn about their condition and about new treatment methods, which will allow them to better deal with the situation.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is an emotion that has many causes, not just stress or worrying. Most people describe their anxiety as a persistent feeling of fear, apprehension or concern. Sometimes, worrying too much for an extended period can lead to anxiety, which continues to manifest into physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach issues or even heart palpitations.
According to statistics, it’s estimated that there are over 40 million people in the United States who suffer from some type of anxiety disorder. The same statistic also shows that individuals as young as 18 years start to suffer from anxiety and all of its common symptoms.
There are several types of anxiety and mental health disorders that co-occur. When left untreated, anxiety can lead to more serious conditions such as depression, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, and schizophrenia. This mental health issue can actually have detrimental effects on the body, emotions, and your ability to function properly.
What Are The Common Symptoms Of Anxiety?
Symptoms of anxiety disorders vary widely. People who suffer from these conditions may experience wide ranging fears and often overwhelming sensations. Common symptoms include difficulty breathing, hot flashes, heart palpitations, trembling, numbness in various parts of the body, shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness, upset stomach, and chest pain.
Another of the more common symptoms is sweating. This can be particularly embarrassing to some people, which may cause them to feel more anxious, thus leading to a cycle. Other symptoms can also be chills or a fast heartbeat that may need immediate medical attention.
While these are the most well-known symptoms, there are many other signs and symptoms that one may experience if they suffer from an anxiety disorder. Therefore, it is very important for a person who suffers from one to seek out a mental healthcare provider to get help for their condition. Facilities such as Alvarado Parkway Institute can provide an accurate assessment of a person’s current level of anxiety and mental health, which is essential to identifying and treating any disorders that may be contributing to these symptoms.
How Do You Help Someone With Anxiety?
There are several ways you can help people cope with their anxiety. People with severe anxiety needs support since they often can’t control their emotions, and physical symptoms might manifest out of the blue. Here are simple ways you can help someone with anxiety cope with their condition:
- Be Properly Informed
One of the best ways to help someone with anxiety is to first educate yourself about the condition and what can help them. The Internet is a great place to start because you can research on what you need to know before trying anything. This may take some time and effort, but with patience and determination, it’s possible. Once you learn what you’re dealing with, you will then be able to ask questions and seek information about how you can effectively deal with the issue.
Another great place to learn about how to help someone with anxiety is to visit your local library and read books that talk about what the condition is and what different treatment options are available. Anxiety is a very treatable condition, and many people have managed to overcome it.
- Recognize When The Symptoms Appear
People who suffer from an anxiety disorder will have very clear symptoms, such as feeling like they are unable to breathe. Other physical symptoms may come in the form of sweating, rapid heartbeat, trembling, and chills.
When you can recognize the symptoms, you can also recognize the triggers. A person may be anxious because of their work, or something is going on in their personal lives.
Once you’ve identified that a person is currently experiencing an anxiety attack, you can help them calm down. If you’re in a crowd, take them to a spot where they can sit, be calm, and have some space to breathe away from other people. You can also offer to walk with them outdoors as fresh air can help induce feelings of calmness.
- Offer A Listening Ear
People with anxiety tend to keep their feelings bottled up because, sometimes, other people invalidate their fears. One of the best things you can do to help people cope with anxiety is to make them feel that they can talk to you without being judged. You can also be part of a group that offers support to those who are experiencing severe anxiety.
The key to proper listening is to ensure that you’re paying attention to what they’re saying. Acknowledge that although their fears might be real, there are solutions to their problems. Assure them that you’re someone who will listen without judgment and offer help if they need it.
- Encourage Self-Help And Other Support Strategies
One of the reasons people suffer from the symptoms of anxiety is they don’t have any idea how to manage symptoms on their own. Most of them even think that there’s no way for them to cope with anxiety on their own—but this isn’t true.
Another way to help someone cope with their anxiety is to encourage self-help and teach them other support strategies. If your friend or family member often isolates themselves because of anxiety, reach out to them and teach them how to meditate, practice relaxation training or join local support groups. You can also encourage them to invest in self-help books that talk about cognitive behavioral therapy.
- Know Which Phrases To Avoid Saying
When helping someone cope with anxiety, it’s not enough that you offer a listening ear; you should also know what things not to say because your words might have adverse effects to the person’s well-being. In fact, saying the wrong words or phrases can become the reason why this person will no longer continue opening up to you.
Unless your friend has mentioned that the phrases below have helped them, it’s best if you avoid saying the following:
- “There’s no reason to panic”: Your friend can’t control panic attacks so telling them not to panic will only make their fear stronger because they’ll realize that their anxiety is something that they can’t easily fight off.
- “Everyone gets stressed sometimes, so your anxiety is normal”: Saying this phrase to your friend will make them feel as if you don’t understand the difference between stress and clinical anxiety.
- Try To Do Other Activities With Them
There are many activities you can do to help other people cope with anxiety, such as yoga and meditation. Doing yoga can help you and the patient relax and clear your minds of any negative thoughts.
Another important activity that can help manage anxiety is to regularly exercise. To help a friend cope with anxiety, you need to encourage them to do some physical activity. Engaging in physical activities is a great way to relieve symptoms of anxiety because this can encourage the body to produce feel-good endorphins that can enhance your friend’s sense of well-being and boost their mood.
You can invite them to go on an evening walk or early morning jog. You can even schedule weekend camping trips or hiking trails in locations within and outside of your city.
- Encourage Appropriate Professional Help
As a concerned friend, there’s just so much you can do in helping someone cope with anxiety. Regardless of how much you research about the disorder and the amount of time you spend with them, there are things that can only be treated with professional help.
If you noticed that your friend’s mental health is not getting any better despite their efforts in trying, encourage them to seek professional help right away. When left untreated for long periods, anxiety can actually become the reason why a person’s thinking pattern and behavior will change abruptly.
Once your friend shows interest in seeking professional help, assist them in finding the right healthcare provider by doing some research online or asking for recommendations from people who might have sessions with these professionals. There are countless mental health professionals, certified peer specialists, and psychiatrists who can help your friend regardless of how severe their anxiety is.
You can also accompany your friend during their first sessions with a healthcare professional. Your friend will likely feel nervous about the sessions, and will need all the support they can get during this time.
If you want to help someone cope with their anxiety, it’s important to first know what you’re trying to deal with. Take the time and effort to read up on anxiety, as well as its symptoms and causes. Recognizing triggers and being able to tell when a person is having an anxiety attack can help you calm them down.
Also, offer them a listening ear as having someone to talk to about their condition without the fear of being judged can do wonders for a person trying to cope with anxiety. Aside from that, offer to join them in physical activities that may induce feelings of relaxation such as yoga and meditation. Constant support and understanding from family and friends go a long way in helping someone cope with their anxiety.