Researchers continue to make headway in uncovering what’s behind the development of anxiety disorders with a new Stanford University study published in November. The study identifies important differences in the brains of children with relatively high anxiety levels.
Last week we talked about how to talk to your loved ones about anxiety, which can be quite intimidating for anxiety sufferers. But what if you’re on the other end of this conversation? It can be very difficult when you have a friend or family member who suffers from anxiety. You might be unsure of what to say or how to act. Perhaps you worry that you’ll end up doing more harm than good.
You may even feel helpless knowing that your loved one is in pain and you can’t do anything to change it. But the reality is that anxiety sufferers often feel misunderstood and isolated, and by simply being a supportive, non-judgmental presence in your loved one’s life, you can make a huge difference. Here are a few important tips for helping a loved one cope with anxiety.
Living with anxiety can leave people feeling isolated and alone due to the perceived lack of understanding and support available to them. Sufferers often desperately want to reach out to loved ones for anxiety support but have no idea how to do so. They fear that others will see them as weak or incompetent, or that they’ll be known as the “crazy” one in their circle of friends and family. They are often afraid that disclosing their situation will bring about social repercussions, or that they will suddenly be seen in a different light. Many anxiety sufferers worry that their loved ones just won’t “get it,” and rather than support for anxiety, they’ll only bring about more isolation.
If you experience chronic anxiety, it has likely impacted your life in significant ways. You may have felt its effects at your job or in your social life. Perhaps your hobbies and passions have taken a back seat because you’re so often consumed by anxious thoughts.
Anxiety can also take its toll on another important area of your life – your romantic relationships. Anxiety and relationships are a tricky combination, because when you already struggle to keep your emotions and fears in check, allowing yourself to be emotionally entangled with and vulnerable to another person can be confusing, overwhelming, and challenging.
Being a caretaker has its rewarding aspects, but it can also be exhausting and overwhelming, and can lead to quite a few physical and mental health complications. Caregivers are much more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety than the general population, and the role can lead to severe anxiety even in those who have never experienced anxiety before. Additionally, for many people, caring for an elderly or ill loved one forces them to confront the unpleasant reality of aging and their own mortality.
Today in the United States, more than 40 million adults (that’s 25-35% of the workforce) care for sick, elderly or otherwise disabled loved ones. And with the Department of Health and Human Services reporting that approximately 157 million Americans — half the population — will have a chronic illness by 2020, the number of caregivers is only going to rise.
Caregiver anxiety is real and well-documented. If you or a loved one has taken on the role of a caretaker, the risk for anxiety and depression should be taken seriously. It is extremely important to know what to watch out for and to understand how to care for yourself even as you pour your energy into caring for another.
Earlier this week, we provided some tips for busy parents and how they can cope with the stress and anxiety of the busy back-to-school season, but today I want to talk about the anxiety our children may experience as they ease into the school year.
You may remember back-to-school time fondly from your childhood as I do, ripe with the anticipation of new experiences, new friends and the excitement of autumn. But if you really put yourself back in that place, I bet you remember those end-of-summer nerves too; the uncertainty of what lies ahead (“What if I can’t find my locker? What if I have no one to sit with at lunch?”) as well as the worry once reality sets in (“Will I ever make it through with such tough teachers? How can I get my classmates to like me?”). A brand-new school year can be daunting when you’re young!