In the United States alone, an estimated 40 million persons are impacted by anxiety disorders every year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. The whole state of California, which accounts for almost 20% of the population of the United States, is represented by this number.
Is there a definition for anxiety? As a clinical operations manager at the Center for Anxiety, Aliza Shapiro, LCSW, tells HelloGiggles, that anxiety may transform into a disorder when it “gets trapped.” When it emerges, it makes functioning 10 times more difficult. One of the most effective ways to help someone who is going through a period of intense anxiety and fear is to surround them with support.
She elaborates that Our anxiety stems from emotions of uncertainty and lack of control, and when these feelings are triggered, we tend to feel anxious. The body (sensations, thoughts, and emotions) are all stress-related.
Anxiety is a Universal Feeling, But How We Feel and Express it Varies From Person to Person
In addition to physical symptoms, Catherine Schmidt, PsyD, a clinical psychologist in California, says that these waves of overwhelming, excessive worry can lead to conceptual symptoms like the inability to focus on anything but fearful thoughts, the gradual building of anxious feelings, and the anticipation of perceived uncertainty.
A few psychologists contacted us to find out how you may help a friend or family member who suffers from anxiety, and we’ve included their advice in this article.
8 Ways to Aid Someone Anxious, According to Psychologists
Most importantly, you may be a rock of support for individuals who are experiencing symptoms of anxiety by trying to identify what makes them feel anxious in the first place (such as close personal connections, huge crowds, or high levels of stress in their daily lives).
It’s a good idea to know how to aid someone who is experiencing an anxiety attack or a powerful wave of anxiety, not just for the benefit of people around you but for your own mental health as well. A good place to start is with these expert-recommended techniques.
1. Don’t Forget To Use The Word “We” When Speaking
To help the individual who is having an attack feel less isolated, use “we” instead of “you.” For instance, you may say, “Rather than saying, “Take deep breaths! ” have us all take a few slow, deep breaths together. Like me, you’ll come in and go right out.”
2. It’s Essential To Have A Cool Head
According to Dr. Schmidt, You want them to be able to pull from your tranquility and safety, so try your best to remain grounded and be careful of your own breathing. You want them to be able to draw from your peace and safety.
3. Be Honest In Your Communication
Knowing that they can count on you for reassurance and safety may help lessen the severity of anxiety or fear they are feeling. Dr. Schmidt suggests gently asking if they’d like to sit, lay down, or go on a walk to get some fresh air. You can also offer positive verbal communication. I know this feels scary, but we will get through this. But first, ask if they feel comfortable receiving vocal support. The same goes for physical touch (i.e., placing your hands on their shoulders) if they feel comfortable receiving that kind of support.
4. Empathy is a Powerful Leadership Tool
As a fellow sufferer of mental illness, you may utilize your personal experience to help your loved one understand what they’re going through. You should follow their preferences if they ask for privacy or show sympathy if they’re OK with you staying. You should avoid talking about your own nervousness or comparing yourself with others, says Dr. Schmidt. It’s not the time to intrude on your thoughts or devalue their experience.
5. Do Your Best not to “Fragilize.”
Let your loved ones know it’s alright to feel anxious and that you’re there for them, adds Shapiro specializes in anxiety disorders. Do not, however, make any attempts to address their anxiety issues. Not only don’t you hold any professional credentials, but you’re also not much of a help.
6. Offer Grounding Techniques, But Don’t Impose them on the Patient
Some of the most effective ways to alleviate anxiety are grounding strategies, which urge people to place more emphasis on where they are rather than their symptoms. Having someone make a list of everything they can see, feel, smell, and hear is a frequent example. Offer to lead them through a simple stretch like rotating their shoulders if they want to keep their eyes closed.
7. To Maintain a Consistent Level of Treatment, it is Necessary
Talking to close friends and family members can help, but they can only do so much to take care of your mental health. As Shapiro advises, encourage them to get professional treatment (lovingly and patiently) so that they may develop skills and strategies to deal with their anxiety with the help of a therapist.
8. It’s Time to Check In and Review the Day’s Events.
Finally, Dr. Schmidt emphasizes that you should do all in your power to be as helpful as possible, and the most excellent method of doing this is to hear from your loved ones about their experience and what they think you might have done better. It’s your job as a supporter to listen to constructive feedback. When things go wrong, you might ask yourself: Is there anything I can do to help you? What else might I have done to help?
Individuals who suffer from Persistent Anxiety Issues may be resistant to treatment. Helping someone who struggles with anxiety can sometimes be challenging, and you can get the impression that you’re doing it incorrectly. But if you keep in mind that you and the person you care about are striving to do the best that you can, it might assist you in keeping things in perspective. It is critical to maintain compassion, but it is also crucial to ensure that you put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others. By doing so, you will have a clearer mind to figure out what is going on with your worried loved one and how you may help them.