Anxiety is a form of mental health condition. It draws feelings of fear, anxiety, and worry that affect the person’s ability to lead a healthy life. Persons with the condition struggle with suicidal thoughts, panic attacks, and self-injury. When such episodes occur, the person with anxiety disorder should receive first aid to calm down. However, the first aid given should be followed by specialized medical help.
What are the Different Types of Anxiety Disorders?
There is a wide range of Anxiety Disorders, Including:
1. Post-traumatic stress disorder: A disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.
2. Obsessive-compulsive disorder: A common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts and behaviors
3. Social anxiety disorder: Also called social phobia, social anxiety disorder is when you feel overwhelming worry and self-consciousness about everyday social situations.
4. Generalized anxiety disorder: People with a generalized anxiety disorder may feel excessive, unrealistic worry and tension with little or no reason.
5. Panic disorder: People with panic disorder feel sudden, intense fear that brings on a panic attack.
6. Specific phobias: Intense fear of a specific object or situation, such as heights or flying.
Patients with anxiety disorder may also have a depressive disorder, a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in their daily life.
What are the Risk Factors of Anxiety Disorder?
The causes of anxiety disorders are not definite to identify. However, health specialists have identified some risk factors. Some of these conditions result from:
- Traumatic life experiences.
- Excessive shyness during adolescence.
- More sensitive persons.
- Persons who view the world as posing threats to them are more prone.
- Persons with domestic violence backgrounds and childhood abuse are also at risk.
- Persons with medical conditions such as respiratory and cardiac diseases are also at high risk.
- Persons with a family history of mental illness, drug abuse, and alcoholism risk developing an anxiety disorder.
- Anxiety disorder is also common in people struggling with depression and drug/alcohol abuse.
- Studies show that women are twice as likely to struggle with anxiety disorders as men.
The condition affects the psychological, physical, and behavioral being of the individual. The common symptoms of a person having anxiety disorders can be easily mistaken for a heart attack. It is, therefore, important for doctors to make the diagnosis. Anxiety symptoms often recur, getting in the way of the individual’s healthy life.
What are the Symptoms of Anxiety?
Physical symptoms include blushing, heavy sweating, trembling, nausea, chest pain, and difficulty talking. For persons who have a medical history of anxiety attacks, you should watch out for the symptoms:
- The individual is overly stressed by regular events, too restless, extremely vigilant, and unable to overcome worry.
- The disorder results in feelings of irritability, fatigue, nausea, trembling, insomnia, Angor animi, sweating, hot flushes/chills, tingling/numbness,
- Persons experience unwanted and racing thoughts and are unable to concentrate. They also get overwhelmed by an intense fear of going crazy, losing control, or dying.
- The individual might lose touch with reality, the present, and themselves.
- In other cases, sudden anxiety attacks result in feelings of dizziness/ lightheaded and unsteadiness/faintness.
- The victim also experiences chest discomfort or pain, smothering, shortness of breath, and choking sensation.
- Patients with anxiety disorder are uncomfortable around crowds and often want to isolate themselves from social situations. They have specific phobias and compulsive behavior.
First Aid Steps for People with Anxiety Disorders
Specific situations and events trigger depressive disorder or anxiety disorders. Individuals most often experience panic attacks, which last for a short time of 10 minutes. As a first-aider, you need to follow through with the steps in offering assistance to the victim.
1. Assess the Surrounding for Risk of Harm or Suicide
Persons with anxiety disorders experience a subsequent mental illness. If you are living with someone showing signs or intent of hurting themselves, you should never leave anything to chance. For persons with active panic attacks, always provide first aid care. You could offer different forms of first aid depending on the person’s state. Such include:
- First aid for traumatic events.
- First aid for nonsurgical self-jury.
- First aid for suicidal thought and behavior.
- First aid for panic attacks.
If the person intends to harm themselves and others and is already possessing a weapon, call for help by dialing 911. You can only attempt to provide first aid once emergency help arrives. If there is no risk of harm or suicide to the individual and others, they should give first aid by starting a conversation.
2. Listen Without Passing Judgment
The next step is compassionate listening. Let the person talk. As they talk, let them know it’s okay to speak about whatever they are going through. Also, importantly, let them know that there are people who care about their illness.
To initiate a conversation, respectfully approach the person in a private setting. You should always be patient with the person if they are not willing to speak up immediately. An open-ended question could be a good conversation starter. An example is, “how are you doing?” If the person starts to talk, listen quietly. Show compassion and understanding as you look. Most importantly, be an active listener.
As you listen, be patient with the individual. Show interest and encouragement by maintaining comfortable eye contact. Allow moments of pause and silence in between the conversations. You can ask follow-up questions to seek clarification to show interest and understanding. Avoid using specific phrases such as “I see” within the conversation. Keep your physical expressions in check and maintain open body language.
There are certain things you will need to watch out for and avoid during the conversation actively, such as distant, judgmental thoughts and feelings. Avoid being critical of the individual and their opinions. Do not imply that the person’s attitudes and beliefs are misguided. Keep away certain items that could divert your attention, such as computers, television, and smartphones. Always advise and avoid flippant statements like “you’ll get over it.”
3. Give Information and Reassurance
People that are struggling with anxiety disorder struggle with extreme fear. The individual might feel like the people close to them don’t understand or care enough about their illness. They might also feel worthless of anyone’s love and fear that they are utter failures. The feelings and emotions the person experiences are harmful and intrusive.
Though the fears the individual face is unfounded, do try to reason with them and show them how wrong they are. Dismissal of the person’s thoughts and feelings could lead to them shutting down the conversation or feelings of guilt that worsen their state.
As a first-aider, empathize with the person and be reassuring. Let the person know that they are not at fault and they are not liable for the illness. Reassure the person that they are loved and that the disease doesn’t affect others’ affection towards them. It would help if you also let the person know that whatever they are going through is a treatable illness. As you talk to the person, let them know that they deserve to be in good health, and with the proper medical attention, they will be well. You can also offer them help and information on where they can seek treatment.
Finally, it would be best to let the person know you are always there for them. Tell them they can always reach out to you whenever they want to talk again.
4. Encourage the person to Get Professional Help
Anxiety disorders are quite detrimental. Persons struggling with the conditions are unable to function normally. The assumption that the disease will go away on its own only leaves room for it to worsen. Whenever you encounter a mental health crisis, refer them to a mental health professional who can offer the necessary assistance.
Several medical health professionals can help, such as primary care doctors, psychiatrists, certified peer specialists, mental health counselors, therapists, and substance abuse therapists. You can refer the person if you know a professional who can help.
If the person is reluctant to get help, you can always ask about their concerns about getting help. And as a first aider, you should help the person understand the importance of getting treated. If the person still resists getting professional help, let them know that you are always available to offer assistance whenever they are ready. However, remember that it is not in your place to heal or force the person to get help. Only the ailing person can decide to seek professional advice.
5. Encourage Support Strategies and Self-Help
It is essential for people struggling with anxiety disorders to speak up about their condition. Then, the person can seek the support of other people such as family, friends, and others they trust.
It is also helpful if the person can engage in self-care and self-help activities. Practices such as meditation, reading books, and engaging in regular exercise and daily activities help relieve anxiety. The individual should also work on getting a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
What are the Treatments for Anxiety Disorders?
If you have a mental health disorder and decide to get treated, a mental health professional may do psychotherapy and prescription medications as these are the two main treatments for anxiety. Combining the two treatments is possible. However, discovering which treatments work best for you may take trial and error.
Psychotherapy is also known as psychological counseling. It can be an effective treatment as it involves working with a therapist to reduce anxiety symptoms.
The most effective psychotherapy for patients with anxiety disorders is CBT or Cognitive-behavioral therapy. It’s a short-term treatment that teaches you skills to improve your symptoms and slowly return to the usual activities you’ve avoided because of anxiety.
Several medications are used to help relieve symptoms, depending on your type of anxiety disorder and whether you also have other mental health issues.
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- Some antidepressant medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are also used to treat anxiety disorders.
- Anti-anxiety medication called buspirone may be prescribed.
- Healthcare professional may prescribe other medications, such as sedatives, benzodiazepines, or beta-blockers.
Most anxiety disorders are linked to childhood when they start to develop. These mental disorders share in their symptoms, and diagnosing them takes a professional. Early detection of anxiety disorders is critical, as delayed treatment can lead to more complicated mental illnesses. In other cases, the victims need up in substance use, and others commit suicide.
It’s normal to have some feelings of anxiety. For example, you may feel anxious or nervous if you have to tackle a problem at work, go to an interview, take a test, or make an important decision. However, the first aid offered to the victim should not come in place of medical care. Instead, the first-aider should encourage the individual to seek professional help to get treated and lead a healthy life. If you want to learn more about emergency response, you can take BLS and CPR certification online course.