Anxiety is the number one mental illness in the United States. In fact, an estimated 40 million American adults have an anxiety disorder — and that’s more than 1 in 10 people.
Anxiety is characterized by feelings of nervousness and worry, even if there’s no clear cause. It negatively impacts your mental health, and it could affect your physical health, your performance at work or school, and your relationships with others too.
Even if you don’t have an anxiety disorder yourself, there’s a good chance you have a loved one who does. It can be difficult to see someone you love struggling with anxiety, whether they’re a family member or a friend.
Our psychiatry and psychotherapy team at Boston NeuroBehavioral Associates is here to help you learn more about anxiety. Read on for expertise on supporting a loved one who’s living with an anxiety disorder.
Recognizing anxiety in others
It’s normal to experience worry from time to time, but anxiety is a mental health condition that’s characterized by persistent, overwhelming worry or intrusive negative thoughts.
There are a few different types of anxiety and they all have slightly different symptoms. While it’s impossible to know exactly what’s going on in someone else’s mind, a few signs of anxiety may be noticeable from an outsider’s perspective.
Your loved one may be suffering anxiety if they talk about:
- Excessive worry regarding future events
- Difficulty sleeping at night
- Struggling to concentrate
- Feeling fatigued frequently
Other signs of anxiety you might notice include:
- Panic attacks
- Restlessness or inability to sit still
- Trembling or shaking
- Unusual sweating
- Irritability or shortness with others
It’s important to note that you can’t diagnose yourself or anyone else without input from a qualified mental health professional. If you’re concerned that your loved one might have anxiety, the first step is starting a conversation about ways to seek help.
Supporting your loved one
Seeing a loved one struggle with anxiety isn’t easy. If you notice signs of anxiety, start by asking them if there’s anything they want to talk about. Let them know you’re there to talk about whatever is on their mind.
Avoid minimizing their worries, no matter how unfounded those fears may be. Resist the urge to offer “quick fixes.” Sometimes, simply acknowledging their stress can help ease their anxiety.
You can make a difference by breaking down the stigma of seeking mental health care. If your loved one is willing, consider helping them schedule an appointment with a medical professional for a diagnosis. Never force anyone to seek medical treatment for anxiety if they don’t want to do so themselves.
Our team at Boston NeuroBehavioral Associates generally diagnoses anxiety when symptoms have been present for six months or longer. We do comprehensive assessments for people of all ages, and we specialize in integrative anxiety treatment plans.
Whether your loved one seeks treatment for anxiety or not, compassionate support from family and friends is important. Ask them how you can help them in day-to-day life and be patient if they experience anxiety attacks.
No one likes to see their loved ones struggling with a mental health disorder. If you think a friend or family member has anxiety and you’re not sure what to do, reach out to Boston NeuroBehavioral Associates for help. Contact us online or call for more information.