Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental health condition in the U.S., affecting up to 18.1% of the population annually. As National Recovery Month continues, learn what you can do to help a loved one manage their anxiety symptoms.
1. Understand How Anxiety Affects Them
Not everyone’s anxiety manifests identically. For example, an anxious person may become grouchy and irritable when they feel scared or stressed, which could lead to arguments between you. Or, their go-to coping mechanism could be to avoid their anxiety triggers in hopes of not having to confront their fears head-on. When you understand how anxiety affects someone you care about, you can recognize their patterns and put yourself in a better position to support them.
2. Be Patient
Sometimes, a loved one’s anxiety can directly impact you, especially if the anxious person lives in your household. While you want to be compassionate toward them, you may have said something like “I wish you’d stop overthinking everything” out of frustration. It’s crucial to stop viewing anxiety as a character flaw and embrace it as an advantage. After all, it’s an admirable trait to be cautious and think carefully through every situation.
3. Teach Them Strategies to Manage Their Symptoms
Many anxieties stem from a fear of the unknown. Typically, anxious people have a natural bias toward assuming worst-case scenarios, so they might expect to fail at something before ever trying it. Intellectually, they probably know some of their fears are irrational, but need support to get past these. Validate that what they are feeling is real, then offer to help them work through whatever they are worried about. For example, if they’re nervous about an upcoming job interview or presentation, you can role-play or rehearse it until it feels more comfortable.
4. Find Activities That Help Them Feel Better
Some people lack healthy coping strategies for dealing with anxiety, so they struggle alone or rely on maladaptive activities that only provide short-term relief. Since exercise provides stress-relieving endorphins, suggest they join you for a yoga session or a walk in your favorite park. If your loved one is prone to panic attacks, learn breathing techniques for anxiety so you can suggest one of these exercises if an episode threatens to disrupt their day.
5. Suggest Therapy
While anxiety disorders respond well to treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy, many people living with anxiety fail to get the professional help that would enable them to live fulfilling, happy lives. As a result, your friend or family member could worsen to a point where fear rules their daily activities. They may also develop co-occurring mental health issues such as depression or substance abuse.
As much as you might want to support your loved one, do your best to avoid enabling their anxiety by taking over activities they are unwilling to do. Rearranging your life in a way that allows them to avoid their fears won’t help them address the root cause of their anxiety. Instead, their growing anxiety will shrink their comfort zone day by day, trapping them in a cycle of worry.
Dual-Diagnosis Treatment in Orange County
People with anxiety and substance use disorders face a series of challenges that require effort to overcome, including long-term treatment. While you want to help your loved one regain their health and happiness, they will eventually have to make an effort on their own. To verify your health insurance and learn more about our programming for men and women, connect with us today.