Anxiety disorders are a form of mental illness. It draws feelings of fear, anxiety, and worry that affects 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 individual should receive first aid to calm down. However, the first aid offered given should be followed by specialized medical help.
There Is a Wide Range of Anxiety Disorders, Including:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Social anxiety/ social phobia
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
- Specific phobias
The causes of anxiety disorders are not definite to identify. Health specialists have, however, 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 are also at risk of developing an anxiety disorder.
- Anxiety disorder is also common in people struggling with depression and drug/alcohol abuse.
- Studies show that women are twice likely to struggle with anxiety disorders as compared to men.
How Can You Tell If Someone Has Anxiety Disorders?
The condition affects the psychological, physical, and behavioral being of the individual. The 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. The symptoms of anxiety disorder often recur getting in the way of the healthy life of the individual.
For persons who have a history of anxiety attacks, you should watch out for the symptoms:
- The individual is overly stressed by regular events, too restless, overly vigilant, and is 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 the reality, the present, and themselves.
- In other cases, sudden anxiety attacks result in feelings of dizziness/ lightheaded and unsteadiness/faint.
- The victim also experiences chest discomfort or pain, smothering, shortness of breath, and choking sensation.
- People with an anxiety disorder are uncomfortable around crowds and often want to isolate themselves from social situations. They have specific phobias and compulsive behavior.
First Aid for Anxiety Disorders
Specific situations and events trigger 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 the steps in offering assistance to the victim.
Assess the Surrounding for Risk of Harm or Suicide:
Persons with anxiety disorders experience a subsequent mental crisis. In case you are living with someone showing signs or intend of hurting themselves, you should never leave anything to chance. For persons with active panic attacks, always provide first aid care. There are different forms of first aid you could offer depending on the state of the person. Such include first aid for traumatic events, first aid for nonsurgical self-jury, first aid for suicidal thought and first aid for behaviors, and first aid for panic attacks.
If the person intends to harm themselves and others and is already in possession of a weapon, call for help first by dialing up 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 start giving first aid by starting a conversation.
Listen Without Passing Judgment:
The next step is compassionate listening. Let the person talk. As they talk, let them know that 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 to follow up questions to seek clarification wherever necessary to show interest and understanding. Avoid the use of specific phrases such as “I see” within the conversation. Keep your physical expressions in check, too, and maintain an open body language.
There are certain things you will need to watch out for and avoid during the conversation actively. Distance judgmental thoughts and feelings. Avoid being critical of the individual and their opinions. Do not try to 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 give helpful advice and avoid flippant statements such as “you’ll get over it.”
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’s face is unfounded, do try to reason with them and try to 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 the disease doesn’t get in the way for others’ affection towards them. You should also let the person know that whatever they are going through is an illness, and it is treatable. 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 is essential to let the person know that you are always there for them. Let them know that they can always reach out to you whenever they want to talk again.
Encourage the Victim 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 medical professional who can offer the necessary assistance.
Several medical health professionals can of help, such as primary care doctors, psychiatrists, certified peer specialists, mental health counselors, therapists, and substance abuse therapists. If you know a professional who can help, you can refer the person.
As you offer such suggestions, be prepared to face some resistance from the individual. If the person is reluctant to get help, you can always ask about their specific concerns about getting help. There are various reasons why a person might resist seeking professional advice, which revolves around fear. In other cases, the person might not be aware of the procedures involved in the treatment process and could be misinformed. As a first aider, you should try to help the person understand the importance of getting treated. Explain to them that their condition will WordPress over time. However, if they get the necessary help, they could lead healthy lives.
If the person still resists getting professional help, let them know that you are always available to offer assistance whenever they are ready. Remember that it is not in your place to heal the person or force the person to get help. Only the ailing person can decide to seek professional advice.
Encourage Support Strategies and Self-Help
It is essential for people struggling with anxiety disorders to speak up about their condition. 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 exercise activities are known to help in relieving anxiety. The individual should also work on getting a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Most of the anxiety disorders are linked to childhood when they start to develop. These disorders share in their symptoms, and it takes a professional to diagnose. 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 committing suicide.
The first aid offered to the victim should not come in place of medical care. The first-aider should encourage the individual to seek professional help to get treated and lead a healthy life.
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