Friday, 3 April 2015

Helping people with Anxiety

Dealing with anxiety is hard for the person suffering with it, but it's also hard for people around to understand and help. I've suffered with anxiety for a long time, and never really thought about how it effected the people around and closest to me. If people don't understand it's never going to be easy for them to cope with, so I thought about things that other could do to make it easier and that have helped me when I'm anxious or having panic attacks. Here are a few things to remember if you're close to someone that suffers with anxiety and panic attacks;

1) Anxiety makes people very tired, it is exhausting to have to deal with it everyday, and I think it's one of those things where if you have never experienced it, you won't understand how it makes you feel or how it can effect someone. The littlest things can set off a stress trigger, and they are usually things that people without anxiety can take with a pinch of salt, for example, just leaving the house, or going to work, the thought of doing those things can send you into panic, and that in itself is emotionally and physically draining. So never push someone with anxiety to be 'productive' or make them feel like they're lazy, because it's an everyday battle.

2) There's more to a person than anxiety, so never judge someone for it. No one likes to be defined by one attribute of themselves. If you care about someone put their anxiety aside and listen and learn about the person that they really are. People are often scared by people who have mental health issues, because it can be a lot to handle, but if you really care about someone you will set that aside and get to know the person underneath the anxiety problems.

3) Communication is key, people with anxiety and panic attacks are usually willing to talk about how they feel if they trust the person they're talking to, it's not an easy thing to open up about but in many cases if you are willing to listen then it can have a huge impact and make things a lot easier for the person that suffers with anxiety. No one likes bottling things up because it overall makes things worse, so if you take the time to listen, you will be able to understand and figure out more ways to help the person rather than shrugging it off.

4) Don't ask silly questions, the last thing someone wants to hear when they're having a panic attack is 'Are you okay?' because clearly, they're not going to be. Put yourself in that persons position and think about how you would like someone to help you.

Ask questions like;
'Can I get you anything?'
'Concentrate on your breathing'
'You've overcome this before you can do it again'
'I'm here if you need me'

Questions like these will be way more suited and show that you really care about the person and what they are going through, no one likes to feel alone when going through anxiety.

5) Anxiety can make people lash out the people they love the most, and that's where people interpret it wrong. If someone is lashing out at you, it's because they have no one else to turn to and feel alone, and the last person they want to lose is you. Try not to take it to hurt if they lash out with anger, it's just a way of dealing what they are going through and all they want is for you to understand. Be comforting, reassure them you are there for them and are not going to let them go through it alone.

6) It can be hard to let go of things, especially if there is a trigger to the anxiety/panic attacks an that's never easy to deal with. The reason they get them is because the brain triggers bad events and that acts in a way that causes them to panic and think it could happen again. Never tell someone they need to 'Get over it and move on' because it really is easier said than done, and it can make someone think that there is something wrong with them which can spiral into depression and severe insecurities. If you really don't know how to help, seek it yourself, read up on how you can help.

7) Change can be difficult, even down to the littlest things, because having a routine is very important to someone that suffers with both anxiety and panic attacks, so once something changes it can be a cause to their attacks. Understand this and help them to adjust, it's like taking someone out of their comfort zone. Even someone who doesn't suffer, if they are put in a situation where they are faced with a fear or something uncomfortable, it can bring anxiety, so put yourself in their situation. They will be trying to adjust, it can just take a lot longer than the average person.

8) Anxiety can make people very quiet and distant, this isn't because they don't want to be involved, but because they are nervous and scared of making a bad impression, and of people judging them. Even though people can't usually tell if someone has anxiety, the person suffering with it thinks the whole world can see right through them, and it's a terrifying thought which causes them to worry about everything. Being alone means they can collect their thoughts and manage easier as there are no situations that will cause them to panic. Be aware of this, they aren't ignoring you or being distant deliberately, they also don't want to put you in an awkward position and make you have to deal with it.

I've always found it hard to get people to understand, but if I get close with new people I try and take the time to explain what I need in order to be comfortable and calm. It never goes a miss, if someone isn't interested in how you feel, then they aren't worth the time. You need to do what is right in order to make yourself feel better.

1 comment:

  1. This is so true, I suffer from anxiety too and I find it so hard to explain the points you made to the people around me. Really well written, hope you're doing okay! x