In case of a anxiety attack:
1. Show calmness and tell the person you are here to help. Bring what she asks for.
2. Don’t be to close and ensure she has enough space around her.
3. If the situation doesn’t get better, call a professional.
Intense anxiety is a difficult period that most people have probably had to cope with at one point. Statics depict that almost 18 percent of American adults deal with anxiety disorder every year showing that one in five people battle with anxiety much longer at unexpected levels than most people daily. It can be a challenge especially if you don’t know how to help someone with anxiety.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. Source
The article highlights some key points that will help you reach out to the affected person and help them get the support they need.
How to recognize anxiety?
Symptoms associated with anxiety reveal themselves in various ways and they can be behavioral, psychological, or even physical. In case you think someone may be anxious, be on the lookout for some of the following behavioral symptoms: distress mostly in social situations, obsessive or compulsive disorder, avoiding certain situations, and phobic behavior.
Physical symptoms include shortness of breath, pounding heart, sweating, dizziness, diarrhea, restlessness, nausea, muscle aches, dry mouth, headache, and the inability to relax.
You won’t miss irritability, decreased memory, impatience, excessive worry, mind racing, vivid dreams, mind going blank, indecisiveness, feeling ‘on edge’, and difficulty concentrating.
If someone you know shows some of the mentioned symptoms, or worse still experiences a panic or anxiety attack, first assess the risk of harm or suicide.
How to help someone with anxiety?
The initial step in assessing such risks is to check if they are in a crisis. Address the specific crisis first which may manifest in the form of a panic attack, suicidal thoughts, extreme level of anxiety, or non-suicidal self-injury.
Listen, care and explain your intentions
After assessing the situation and you find out the person is not in any sort of crisis, ask them how they are feeling and for how long they have been feeling that way. What if they start thinking about why you’re so inquisitive? Simply explain your concerns and the signs you have noticed but make sure not to be judgmental. As they speak, be engaged, and be patient to show that you care; to keep them talking, use minimal prompts but ask more clarifying questions.
Be present physically when the person is having an anxiety attack.
Make them focus on slow breathing and pay attention to what sets them off or what makes them calm down when they are having an anxiety attack.
Give information and reassurance.
Your support can go a long way in helping the person; true it may be difficult at times especially when the person just wants to give up finding help or when they become frustrated in the process. Whenever you counter such feelings by being genuine, kind, or persistent, you can easily sway them.
Ensure you involve them in decision making since treating a person with the respect they deserve and giving them autonomy is vital. Additionally, always maintain positive language – remind them that they can recover and you will be there to support them in any way you can; never blame them for their symptoms or illness.
If the situation doesn’t get better, call a pro
In case professional assistance might be mandatory, make the affected person aware of the options they have for professional help. Support for anxiety disorders comes from psychiatrists, primary care physicians, mental health professionals, and certified peer specialists. Keep encouraging the person to settle for such viable options and motivate them throughout the entire process.
Support strategies like self-help are beneficial. Find out from the person where they can get needed additional support; whether it is from trusted communities or fellow loved ones. Alternatively, you can suggest some of the self-help strategies like exercise, meditation, relaxation reading, self-help books that target cognitive behavioral therapy. Sometimes, the best solution is to help the anxious person access a therapist or you can offer to go to their first appointment with them and offer to assist with childcare. Generally, the best place to start for help with anxiety is trying CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy); most evidence points to this mode of therapy as the best for treating anxiety.
In case the person agrees to professional help for their anxiety, invite them over to let you know what they are learning or working on. Be sensitive when doing this so that the person shouldn’t interpret such questioning as checking up on them. For instance, you can ask what useful insights they have acquired or which anxiety management techniques are working wonders for them.
Take Away: How to help someone with anxiety
There are several methods to follow when helping someone to deal with anxiety. You don’t have to settle for all the suggestions above. Pick up at least two suggestions mentioned earlier that you find appealing or manageable to your friend or loved one.
Always remember you are doing the best you can and prepare to experiment with other helpful methods. Exercise, breathing exercises, Yoga, or engaging in the “power hour” at least for an hour every week will help the person tackle activities they have been avoiding because of anxiety.