Anxiety - how to help or help someone else
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Graeme Orr MBACP(Accred), UKRCP Reg. Ind. Counsellor
16th April, 20130 Comments
In the last 10 years anxiety and depression have grown by 13%, about 1 in 10 of us are affected by anxiety that affects our daily lives. If you are a sufferer you will be only too aware of the impact it can have on your everyday life. If you know someone who suffers you will recognise what a disabling condition it can be.
There are a range of anxiety disorders of which Phobias, panic attacks, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Generalised Anxiety Disorder are perhaps the best known. Sufferers want a way to manage their condition and those close to them want to help to lift the anxiety from their loved one. Like all medical conditions your GP is a good place to start. They may describe a course of treatment that could include medication or talking therapies (like counselling). Yet there are things that you can do to help, yourself or your loved one.
Often those who are anxious forget to look after themselves so small things like physical exercise can help. You needn’t join a gym a walk round the block can help. A healthy diet and cutting down on alcohol and cigarettes can also make a big improvement.
Talking through your worries can make a difference, perhaps you can confide in your partner or a friend. Don’t be embarrassed or dismiss yourself as stupid, understand that the anxiety is very real for you. By talking through your fears, a perspective may be gained and the situation may seem less threatening.
Understanding some of the things that cause anxiety or keeps your anxiety going can help to change your anxiety. Perhaps you predict the future “I am going to fail my exams” or you are a mind reader “My boss believes I’m stupid” or that you always believe the worst will happen. Realising that this line of thinking is a function of your feelings and that there are other points of view is important. You could consider what actual evidence there is other than your feeling that this will come true or what you might say if a friend thought the same way as you, it is all designed to help you look at alternative points of view and that some are more positive outcomes.
It may be that you are trying to help someone who has an anxiety disorder and that you are unsure how best to help. It is straight forward and in fact you may already be doing the important things. Being reliable helps, being on time reduces anxiety and fears that you are not coming or something has happened to you. While you want to support the person changing be careful that you are going at their pace and not pushing them too fast. If you go to fast ironically things can get worse. Just being positive and listening to the sufferer can make an enormous difference. Finally recognise that you yourself may need support as caring for someone else is tiring and draining so make sure you have your own support system.
Anxiety can be beaten and sufferers can get their lives back but they need to be able to challenge some of the unhelpful thoughts and processes that trap them.
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