When someone you care about is struggling with an anxiety disorder, it can be difficult to know how to support them.  However, there are many resources available to both you, reader, and your loved one.  In receiving treatment and support for an anxiety disorder, many find they are better able to manage their symptoms.  As a result, their quality of life can improve.  Read on to learn more about how you can support a loved one with an anxiety disorder.

What is the Difference Between Anxiety and An Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety is an emotion we all experience.  It’s a normal reaction to stress and can help us identify danger and respond to it.  In short, anxiety can be helpful and even necessary for our survival at times.  It can help us better focus, prepare for important tasks and events, and motivate us.

However, anxiety disorders are different from the typical feelings of anxiety or nervousness as described above.   Anxiety disorders involve excessive fear or worry and are the most common mental health disorder.

There Are Several Types of Anxiety Disorders

According to the American Psychiatric Association, women are more likely than men to experience an anxiety disorder.  The overarching theme among all anxiety disorders is the excessive and persistent feelings of fear or worry in situations that aren’t threatening or dangerous.

There are common emotional and physical symptoms associated with anxiety disorders.  They include a feeling of dread, tension in the body, difficulty relaxing, racing thoughts, upset stomach, headache, fatigue, heart racing, and fearing the worst will happen in the future.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the most common types of anxiety disorders include specific phobias, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder.  Each of these disorders has unique symptoms associated with them, but they share the common feature of excessive worry and fear.

How Can I Help A Loved One with An Anxiety Disorder?

  1. Be curious about their experience

Listen to your loved one.  Ask them open ended questions to gain a better understanding of what they’re going through.

  1. Stay Calm

When your loved one is experiencing anxiety, they are usually scared, irritable, and/or overwhelmed.  Remaining calm is key to offering support.

  1. Deepen your knowledge about anxiety disorders

There are many resources for learning about anxiety disorders.  NAMI, Mental Health Colorado, and the National Institute of Mental Health are good places to start.

  1. Prioritize Your Well-Being Too

Ensure you’re getting support too by reaching out to friends and family.  Perhaps this includes going to therapy so you have a safe and confidential space for your own feelings, thoughts, and concerns.

  1. Encourage them to get professional support

There are several ways your loved one may benefit from professional support.  Because anxiety disorder symptoms can be similar to some medical conditions, it’s always a good idea for your loved one to seek a professional medical evaluation.  Anxiety disorders are often treated successfully with therapy and medication.  Medication may be prescribed by a family physician, or it might be a good idea to seek the care of a psychiatrist for anti-anxiety medication.

Working With A Therapist Can Help Anxiety

Because anxiety is the most common mental health disorder experienced by people, it is one of the most common reasons to seek therapy.  Benefits of going to therapy include learning skills to manage symptoms and finding effective solutions to problems.  Additionally, therapy can help you better understand your experience with anxiety and gain new perspectives.

At Vitality Therapeutic Services, we know how debilitating anxiety can feel to both those experiencing it and those supporting someone with anxiety.  We offer therapy to individuals struggling with anxiety, to individuals supporting a loved one, therapy for women, and EMDR therapy.  Additionally, we understand life experiences, events and changes can coincide with anxiety, so we offer services such as therapy for life transitions and therapy for those that have experienced rape.  We also support couples  and offer Online TherapyContact us today to get the support you need.

Photo credit: Photo by Liza Summer: https://www.pexels.com/photo/crop-woman-tapping-shoulder-of-frustrated-female-friend-6383158/