It can be uncomfortable to talk about anxiety with others. Because anxiety is so personal, discussing it with others may feel like something that you don’t want to do. However, by opening up to others, whether it’s your partner, family, friends, or coworkers, you can help them understand you and your mental health needs better. Let’s introduce some ways to bring up the topic and create the support system you need.
Anxiety is a natural response to stress, characterized by feelings of worry, fear, and unease about future events or uncertain outcomes. It can be a normal and healthy response to certain situations. When it’s excessive or chronic, it interferes with daily activities. Talking with family and close friends can be one part of managing anxiety. It can help you reduce feelings of isolation and helplessness, give you a sense of safety and security, increase understanding of others, and lead to developing a better understanding of your own symptoms and how to respond to them in healthy ways.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal human reaction to stress that manifests as fear, concern, or unease about a future event or uncertain outcome. It’s a common and acceptable reaction to specific situations, such as a job interview or an exam. But when anxiety becomes severe or chronic, it can disrupt daily tasks and cause significant distress. There are several different types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and specific phobias. Each anxiety type has a unique set of symptoms, but there are some common symptoms shared among them.
Some common symptoms are as follows:
- Excessive concern or fear regarding particular situations or events
- Trouble concentrating or sleeping
- Physical changes, including elevated heart rate, perspiration, and trembling
- Avoidance of circumstances that cause anxiety
- Obsessive or compulsive thoughts or behaviors
Importance of Talking About Anxiety
As a woman suffering from anxiety, you may benefit from informing close friends and family members about your mental health for a variety of reasons. For starters, revealing your anxiety concerns might help to eliminate the stigma connected with mental health disorders and may encourage others to seek assistance if they are struggling as well. Second, having a support network of trusted friends and family members can be effective for managing your anxiety. Knowing that you have individuals who care about you and are available to provide emotional support might assist in reducing your feelings of loneliness and helplessness. Third, having trustworthy people who understand your fears can provide women a sense of protection and security. If you have a history of panic attacks in public, having a friend or family member who is aware of your experiences can provide comfort and support. Finally, sharing your anxiety difficulties with loved ones might help you create stronger, more meaningful connections. It can lead to improved understanding, open communication, and the development of a stronger sense of empathy and compassion. Ultimately, talking openly about anxiety with trustworthy people can be a good start toward managing your anxiety and increasing their general well-being, too.
Tips for Talking About Anxiety
Until you allow others into your world, all they see is behavior, and it is at this point that people are more likely to form an opinion about you. Reaching out to others increases your chances of receiving the help you require. Here are a few strategies to start talking about your anxiety.
Talking to Your Doctor
There is no need to self-diagnose. When you open up to your doctor, you can start by explaining the circumstances that are causing your symptoms to worsen. Your doctor is experienced in talking with anxious patients and will work alongside you to find the best solutions. Many people benefit from counseling, medicine, or a combination of the two. CBT, or cognitive behavioral therapy, has been shown to be particularly beneficial in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorders. A therapist trained in CBT can help you become aware of thought patterns that are contributing to your anxiety levels, understand how they influence you, and help you change the patterns.
Talking to a Friend
Talking about your anxiety can normalize it so your friends understand where you’re coming from and can help you manage it. It can also help them avoid doing things or creating situations that may trigger anxiety symptoms. You may already be avoiding social situations due to anxiety and cutting yourself off from time with friends. In talking to them, be specific about what you felt in past social situations and how the choice of where to go and what to do can become more aligned with your need for reducing fear and enjoying time together.
Talking to Family Members
Family members may assume your anxiety is their responsibility if you address it with them. Explaining your symptoms to a spouse, partner, or children isn’t about placing blame on them. Instead, focus on telling your spouse what helps you manage your symptoms and what role they can play in supporting you. With children, it’s helpful to explain the need to be aware of how emotions affect you and what you can do to respond to those emotions in healthy ways. They don’t need to see a “perfect” version of you, as being open about your need for self-care will help them learn how to respond to and manage their own emotions.
Talking to a Boss or Supervisor
You may see a need to inform a supervisor about your anxiety if it can help you manage expectations. In this scenario, setting up a private meeting to address ways to minimize the anxiety in your role and help you thrive in your work environment can be a valuable first step. Advocate for yourself and identify what possible accommodations you may need to be successful. Find an ally in a coworker who is willing to join you in that meeting if you believe it would be helpful.
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