All of us get anxious at some point in our lives. It might be caused by worries at work, a loved one who is not well, the proximity of a happy event such as the birth of a new child or any number of things. Anxiety becomes an issue when it begins to affect the way we live our daily lives and it can take many different forms.
Anxiety as a mental health issue can manifest as panic disorders, phobias, social anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorders and PTSD.
Spotting the Signs of an Anxiety Disorder
If someone close to you such as a friend or family member is suffering from anxiety, you will probably have picked up that things are not quite right. Anxiety can produce a wide range of effects. A person might become breathless or agitated in certain circumstances, they might become withdrawn and seem depressed, they may even use alcohol or other substances to dampen their feelings and cope with their anxiety.
Talking to the Person
You may not have a full diagnosis but you know that something is wrong. Broaching the subject with your friend or family member is the first step if you want to help. This can often be a difficult conversation and it helps to have a plan about what you are going to say.
You need to be caring and compassionate and guide them towards getting help and this could take time and patience. Just because someone doesn’t want help or doesn’t recognise that there is an issue doesn’t mean you should give up on them. For some people, it can actually be a big weight off their shoulders and your intervention will help them open up and discuss their problems.
Anxiety disorders can be complex and difficult to resolve. It may be something as simple as problems at work that have got on top of the person and is making them anxious. It may also be something more deeply ingrained such as a post-traumatic stress disorder following on from an event that happened in their past. Diagnosis of the condition is important and, as a family member or friend, your main task is to support the individual as they go through this process. This means being non-judgemental and compassionate, trying to understand the world from their point of view.
Learning About Their Condition
Once a diagnosis has been reached, the next step is to research it as much as possible. This is not only so you can help but also to give you and the sufferer more confidence over moving forward. There are lots of resources available nowadays that you can easily access online. There are also support groups where you can learn first-hand from other people who have been through the same thing.
There are important practical things that you can do to help:
Support for a variety of anxiety conditions is out there and your friend or family member does not have to suffer in silence. Many of us will encounter mental health conditions over our life time and getting the right help is important. Neither is it anything to be ashamed of.
The good news is that many people with an anxiety disorder make a full recovery and are able to move on with their lives once they have the support and help from friends and family members that they need.