When Someone You Know...
…Might Be Suffering From Anxiety
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is the body’s natural response to danger, an automatic alarm that goes off when you feel threatened, under pressure, or are facing a stressful situation.
In moderation, anxiety isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, anxiety can help you stay alert and focused, spur you to action, and motivate you to solve problems. But when anxiety is constant or overwhelming, when it interferes with your relationships and activities, it stops being functional—that’s when you’ve crossed the line from normal, productive anxiety into the territory of anxiety disorders.
Because anxiety disorders are a group of related conditions rather than a single disorder, they can look very different from person to person. One individual may suffer from intense anxiety attacks that strike without warning, while another gets panicky at the thought of mingling at a party. Someone else may struggle with a disabling fear of driving, or uncontrollable, intrusive thoughts. Yet another may live in a constant state of tension, worrying about anything and everything.
Despite their different forms, all anxiety disorders share one major symptom: persistent or severe fear or worry in situations where most people wouldn’t feel threatened.
How Can I Help Someone with Anxiety...or Even Myself?
- Write down your worries. Writing down your worries is more difficult than just thinking about them, so your negative thoughts are likely to disappear sooner.
- Create a worry period. Choose one or two 10 minute "worry periods" each day. Still worrying, postpone your worrying until your next designated worry period.
- Accept uncertainty. Unfortunately worrying about what could go wrong doesn't make life any more predictable. Life happens as we make plans.
- Practice relaxation techniques. Just five minutes of slowed down breathing can do a world of good for someone who is feeling anxious.
- Eat! Start the day right with breakfast and continue with small meals throughout the day. Low blood sugar can make you feel more anxious.
- Sleep! A lack of sleep can make symptoms of anxiety worse.
- Exercise. It is hard to be anxious when your body is producing natural "feel good" chemicals known as endorphins.
There is good news! Anxiety is treatable!
- See a physician. Often a physician can rule out other causes of symptoms and also refer to mental health specialists.
- Visit the Counseling and Resource Center for FREE and confidential counseling services and referral to resources.
- Want to know more about symptoms of anxiety? Visit www.helpguide.org.