Updated: Mar 3, 2019
Most of you probably know someone who struggles with anxiety. The person who excessively plans things, thinks of every disastrous scenario, likes to be in control, seems terrified of everyday situations, can't stop worrying throughout their day, irritable or agitated, and maybe even withdrawn. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 31.1% of US adults will experience some anxiety disorder in their lifetime. Here are a few things someone with an anxiety disorder might want you to understand.
1. I know the things I am worried about are irrational
Most of the time, people with anxiety disorders have some insight that their worries are irrational, but that doesn't make the feeling of anxiety go away.
2. I can't always control my anxiety
Although there are successful treatments for anxiety, this doesn't mean the individual will never experience anxiety again. Individuals with anxiety disorders are more predisposed to anxiety than others, therefore this is often an automatic response to situations. Treatment can help reduce the intensity, duration, and frequency of anxiety, but not always completely take it away.
3. I don't need you to "fix" it
It is often the most helpful for family and friends to just be with the person while they are experiencing anxiety. Wait with them patiently until the anxiety lessens and let them know it is okay to be anxious.
4. It is often difficult for me to explain my anxiety to others
It can be very difficult for someone with anxiety to explain this feeling to others. Don't pressure someone to explain why they feel the way they do. Simply let them know you are there if they need you.
5. I sometimes isolate myself from others, but this doesn't mean I don't want you around or need your support
Anxiety can make everyday situations very overwhelming so isolation is often a coping mechanism for someone with anxiety. This does not mean the individual wants you to stop reaching out to them or inviting them places. It does not mean they don't care about you. And it does not mean they don't need your support.
6. Sometimes it might not look like I have anxiety on the outside, but on the inside I am terrified
People with anxiety often learn ways to hide their anxiety from others. This is another coping mechanism used to function in every day life. Just because they don't "look" anxious does not mean they are faking it.
7. I am not weak because of my anxiety
Anxiety does not make a person weak. In many cases anxiety makes a person stronger. Someone with anxiety has to face their fears every single day and is forced to deal with the struggles in their life. There aren't many others things that would classify a person as strong and brave.
8. I often have terrible thoughts and images in my mind
Individuals with anxiety disorders often experience intrusive thoughts and images (this means unwanted and involuntary thoughts and images). So, not only are they thinking bad things might happen, they are seeing these situations played out in their mind.
9. I cannot just "get over it"
As much as the individual would like to "get over it," even with effective skills it takes some time for the anxiety to pass.
10. Change and the unexpected is often difficult
The unknown is a common fear for people with anxiety disorders. So when plans change the adjustment can sometimes be difficult and takes some time to get used too.
Want more information on treating anxiety? Check out my new eBook Conquer Anxiety in Ten Weeks. You will get ten different activities that help you manage your anxiety in a healthy way.