How Do You Explain Severe Anxiety
When you have severe anxiety, it can sometimes feel like youre physically suffocating. Talk about your physical symptoms, whether its shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, trembling, or sweating. And that when these symptoms escalate, it makes it hard to think clearly.
When explaining your severe anxiety to someone, tell them that your fears and worries about different things or situations are irrational that they are out of proportion to the actual threat. And when these symptoms occur, it triggers more anxiety, and a cycle of panic perpetuates.
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The Donts: What To Avoid
Whether you like it or not, you are part of your partners treatment. As a partner of someone with anxiety, your goal is not to make the anxiety worse, to avoid panic attacks, control the symptoms, and keep the anxiety from leading to depression.
You do these things because of love, because you also know that if the tables were turned, your partner would do the same for you. Here are some tips you could follow on what to avoid if your partner has anxiety.
It Comes With A Lot Of Shame
At times, a persons anxiety can make them feel mortified. Because it can be so consuming, anxiety can affect the way someone interacts with others. The worry and fear of anxiety can lead to increased sensitivity and overthinking, both of which can impact a relationship. This can eventually lead to shame, embarrassment, and lowered self-esteem.
This sense of shame that stems from anxiety can quickly become all-consuming and toxic. Eventually, the anxiety leads to negative thoughts of worthlessness and failure. Unfortunately, when someone hears something enough, they begin to think its true.
These thoughts eventually become facts to the person, which can dictate how they act and feel. Of course, these harsh thoughts also tend to make anxiety worse. In the end, shame is deeply rooted in emotion and is often the source of mental illness.
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Don’t Trivialize Their Anxiety
“Stop stressing,””stop worrying,””suck it up,” and “what’s wrong with you?” are all things to avoid saying to your anxious loved one, according to experts. These phrases often make people even more anxious, Pillay says. If they could simply “stop worrying,” they would. Unfortunately, anxiety is more complicated than that. “Their brain is likely wired differently than yours may be,” Dow says. “They probably have an overactive amygdala, a part of the brain involved in fear, and an underactive prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that can act as the brakes.”
Oh, and one last thing: “Do not try to compare everyday anxiety situations with what the person is going through,” Odessky says. “Worrying about passing an exam is very different from having a phobia or an anxiety disorder.”
Its Difficult To Let Things Go
One of the hallmarks of anxiety is repetitive, catastrophic thinking which can sometimes become so intense that it debilitates your life. Fortunately, many people learn to quieten these destructive thinking patterns with time and understand healthy coping mechanisms to keep worries away. However, no matter how expert someone becomes in anxiety management, they are still likely to struggle with rumination. So as you explain anxiety to your partner, let them know how some things can get challenging to let go so that they can support you in a better way.
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Learn To Recognize The Signs Of Anxiety
Anxiety disorder is the most common mental health condition in the United States, affecting up to 18% of the population. Knowing the signs of anxiety can help you realize when someone you love is having fearful thoughts or feelings. Symptoms vary from person to person but can be broken into three categories:
How Do You React When You Have Anxiety
When you leave your window of tolerance, your body will automatically respond with fight, flight, or freeze responses.
Going back to the example of you floating down the river. Leaving the window of tolerance is like falling off the floater. You have difficulty getting back on and feel overwhelmed by the waves.
Fight: Confront the threat aggressively or defensively
feelings of anger or rage
Flight: Run or flee from the danger
sense of wanting to escape
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How To Make Your Loved Ones Understand Exactly How You Feel In Any Given Moment
Even once your loved ones understand anxiety better, it may still be hard for them to support you, since anxiety can be different things at different times for example, overwhelming fear one day feeling OK the next day staying in bed and hiding from the world the day after that going out and keeping really busy to distract yourself from your anxiety the following day etcetera. And, when anxiety can be so many different things, it can be hard for your loved ones to know how youre feeling at any given moment and therefore, how best to support you.
So, to overcome this problem, I’m going to show you how to use the Storm To Sun Framework to easily express exactly how you feel at any given moment!
How To Explain Anxiety To Someone You Love
But psychiatrists and therapists say there are ways to help your partner navigate challenges while you also take care of yourself. Start by addressing symptoms. Dont minimize feelings. Help your partner seek treatment and participate when you can. Encourage dont push.
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How Anxiety Can Impact Your Relationship
If you are dating someone with anxiety, it is likely your loved one spends a lot of time worrying and ruminating on everything that could go wrong or already be wrong with the relationship. Here are some examples of negative thoughts and questions that might be running through their brain:
- What if they dont love me as much as I love them?
- What if theyre lying to me?
- What if theyre hiding something from me?
- What if theyre cheating on me?
- What if they want to cheat on me?
- What if they like someone else more?
- What if my anxiety ruins our relationship?
- What if we break up?
- What if they dont text me back?
- What if Im always the first one to reach out?
- What if they ghost on me?
Most people have at least a few of these negative thoughts. They are a normal part of being in a relationship, especially a new one.
People with an anxiety disorder, however, tend to have these anxious thoughts more frequently and more intensely.
We tend to experience more anxiety when we focus on negative thoughts rather than positive ones.
The anxious thoughts cause physiological symptoms, including shortness of breath, insomnia and an anxiety or panic attack. Someone with anxiety can react to relationship stress with a fight-or-flight response as if the stress were a physical attack.
Sometimes anxious thoughts motivate your partner to act in ways that stress you out and strain the relationship.
Need Help For Anxiety Or Depression
Specialists at our luxury rehab in South Florida understand that depression and anxiety arent simple disorders to deal with. Especially when it comes to navigating how to explain what anxiety feels like to loved ones, airing out these difficult thoughts and feelings to others can be terrifying. However, even if you dont have people in your life whom you feel you can talk to about your mental illness, were here for you.
Not only does Seaside offer depression and anxiety treatment, but we also provide individual and group counseling sessions to promote comfort and recovery. Clients at our high-end rehab can enjoy amenities like gourmet meals and boarding while learning more about their disorders and discovering new and healthy ways to cope with them.
Because mental illnesses and addictions often co-occur, we also offer luxury dual diagnosis treatment that incorporates modalities like medical detox and psychotherapy to treat the individual as a whole. Dont let mental illness or addiction rule your life any longer.
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Instead Say: Im Always Here For You
You dont have to understand what your friend is going through to be there for them, and you dont have to compare your experiences to theirs to show them that you understand what they feel.
If you dont know what its like to have severe anxiety, be honest about that. But also let them know that you know its real for them and you want to be there to support them however you can.
Showing you care will help if your friend is self-conscious about their anxiety or has a hard time opening up about it. Listen without judgment to what they have to say and what their experiences are like. Being there for someone even when you cant relate is a powerful way of showing support.
Not Being Able To Catch Your Breath Or Not Being Able To Take A Deep Breath
These are both signs of something called hyperventilation, which basically means fast breathing. You might feel like you cant get your breathing under control or that you just cant breathe in deeply. This is because youre breathing in a shallow way, one of the most common signs of anxiety. Its often associated with an increased heartbeat, too.
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What To Do When You Learn They Have Anxiety
Two things can happen: either your partner comes out to you about their anxiety, or youll start noticing the signs yourself.
Either way, your actions, and words will have a big impact on your partners feelings.
It takes a lot for a person to show their vulnerability, so be sensitive about the things you say. Thank your partner for trusting you with the information.
According to clinical psychologist Todd Farchione:
Its important not to diminish their experience. Being supportive is about being willing to hear what they have to say and to be understanding.
But in order to reach that level of understanding, that involves validating what theyre going through.
Realize that its a real thing. Its not made up to seek attention. And you need to acknowledge that its real so you wont hurt your partner unnecessarily.
What Your Partner With Anxiety Wants You To Know
To the person whose wife or partner has anxiety:
You might have heard that she has anxiety from sitting by her side in a doctor’s office, holding her hands while the tears steam down her face. You might have seen her get angry and explode because shes overwhelmed, wondering where this rage has come from. You might have seen her sit quietly staring into the distance with a panic in her eye.
Anxiety isnt one-size-fits-all, it isnt consistent and it isnt always easy to tell. You might think shes just snapped at you, but it was anxiety that did it you might think shes angry, but its the anxiety thats got a choke hold you might think shes not enjoying herself when you go out and its your fault, but its not. Its anxiety.
You know how she cant understand, when she asks you what are you thinking, why you would respond with nothing.” Its because she never thinks nothing. Her thoughts replay like a freight train in her head, full steam ahead, over and over. Its exhausting for her. Its why shes tired.
Sometimes she wonders why youre with her, and if you knew she had anxiety, would you still be there? Do you regret it? Being with her? Do you wish you were with someone else that didnt have this vice around their neck?
You can see what gets too much for herthe crowds of people, bedtime, dinnertimesee it and help her by holding her hand and telling her youre with her. Do it with her, take over, tell her to sit down for a while and breathe.
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What To Expect From People Who Dont Have Anxiety
When youve made the decision to confide in someone about your anxiety disorder, you may not always get the response youd like. Not everyone will understand things like why you cant control it, why its impact on your life is so large, or why youre struggling. Thats okay it can take time for others to fully accept what youre telling them. Here are some of the common things you might hear from others about your anxiety:
- Isnt it just in your head?
- You just need to take better care of yourself.
- You just need to learn how to let things go.
- Just stay positive. Think about the good things, stop focusing on the bad.
- You just need to stop feeling sorry for yourself.
- Other people have bigger problems than you, and theyre doing fine.
When you hear things like this, try to remain patient and try not to take it personally. Anxiety disorder is complex. Those of us who have it dont always fully understand it, either. Remain steadfast in your mission to educate your family and friends about what anxiety disorder really is and how its affecting you.
Support Them To Seek Help
If you think your friend or family member’s anxiety is becoming a problem for them, you could encourage them to seek treatment by talking to a GP or therapist. You could:
- Offer to help them arrange a doctor’s appointment. If they are scared of leaving the house, you could suggest they ring their GP to find out if they will do home visits and telephone appointments.
- Offer support when they attend appointments. You could offer to go with them to their appointments and wait in the waiting room. You can also help them plan what they’d like to talk about with the doctor. See our page on talking to your GP for more information.
- Help them seek help from a therapist. See our page on how to find a therapist for more information.
- Help them research different options for support, such as community services or peer support groups such as those run by Anxiety UK and No Panic. See our useful contacts page for more information. You could also call Mind’s Infoline to find out more about local services.
See our page on helping someone else seek help for more information.
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It Is Possible To Learn How To Explain Anxiety To Someone You Love Without The Fear Of Judgment Misunderstandings Or Shame And This Should Help
One of the worst parts about anxiety is your fear of its impact on the people you love. Whether your boyfriend or girlfriend, parents, or friends, it can cause you even more anxiety. But you can learn how to explain anxiety to someone you love without fear.
Anxiety is a mental illness still widely misunderstood by society. It is something you do not choose and would not wish on anyone. It is a draining struggle to function daily.
Why you should explain anxiety to someone you love
Until recently, many people hid their anxieties. Having anxiety can make people feel ashamed and weak. No one wants to admit they are struggling, but talking about it with a professional and especially to the people in your life is not only beneficial but freeing.
It has been proven that sharing your insecurities with those you love and trust helps you to release and face those struggles. Hiding your anxiety only burrows those awful and fearful feelings deeper into your psyche, causing more problems.
Explaining anxiety to someone you love gives them the chance to understand you better. It can help them learn how you feel and what they can do to help. Not to mention you and the people in your life may relate more than you ever thought possible.
Although anxiety is brutal, explaining it to your loved ones is always the way to go.
How to explain anxiety to someone you love
Offer Support But Dont Take Over
Avoidance is a core feature of anxiety, so sometimes we may feel pulled to help out by doing things for our avoidant loved ones and inadvertently feed their avoidance. For instance, if your anxious roommate finds making phone calls incredibly stressful and you end up doing this for them, they never push through their avoidance.
More on Anxiety
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A good general principle to keep in mind is that support means helping someone to help themselves, not doing things for them, which includes virtually anything that stops short of actually doing it yourself. For example, you might offer to attend a first therapy session with your loved one if they set up the appointment. Or, if theyre not sure how to choose a therapist, you might brainstorm ways of doing that, but let them choose.
An exception might be when someones anxiety is accompanied by severe depression. If they cant get themselves out of bed, they may be so shut down that they temporarily need people to do whatever is needed to help them stay alive. Also, sometimes loved ones are so gripped by an anxiety disorder that theyre in pure survival mode and need more hands-on help to get things done. In less extreme circumstances, however, its best to offer support without taking over or overdoing the reassurance.
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