How annoying “calm down” is.
The last thing that will calm down an anxious person is telling them “calm down.” In fact, it may make the situation worse. According to Farchione, some research suggests that trying to calm oneself during the middle of an anxiety attack can actually increase the original emotional response in the moment. As a result, by trying not to be afraid, the sufferer may experience a more intensified reaction to what’s making them fearful.
Instead of encouraging someone with anxiety to calm down, Farchione suggests offering support that shows understanding. “It’s a bad strategy to tell someone to ‘calm down’ — mostly because it doesn’t give anyone a sense of how can they do that,” he explains. “If they could calm down, they would — it’s an overly simplistic view of emotion. A better strategy would be asking questions like ‘What’s making you feel this way?
Panic attacks are never convenient.
It’s a normal day. You’re getting ready to head out the door when suddenly, your chest constricts. Soon you’re engulfed by fear — it’s almost excruciating. And there’s nothing you can do to stop it.
Some panic attacks come out of nowhere, without a whisper of a warning, while others are fear-induced, brought on by confronting the situation that gives them anxiety in the first place. Regardless of when it happens (or how the experience affects you personally), it’s never pleasant — and it’s rarely convenient. “When someone suffers from one of these disorders, it’s completely debilitating,” Farchione explains.
Fear has a different meaning.
When you’re dealing with anxiety, your fears are amplified to an extreme degree — and it’s something that doesn’t necessarily go away. Getting on a plane or walking into a room full of strangers can become excruciating, and there isn’t a quick fix for how you’re feeling.
As child psychiatrist Allison Baker explained, we all feel uneasy when facing uncertainty. However, those who suffer from anxiety disorders experience fear on a deeper level. “We all experience anxiety in some capacity,” Baker previously told Huff. Healthy Living. “It helps us prepare for speaking in public and it motivates us to practice or rehearse; everyone can relate to what that experience is like. An anxiety disorder is when those run-of-the-mill butterflies become a chronic daily experience.”
In order to help a sufferer cope with what’s terrifying them, many people help someone with anxiety avoid specific triggers. However, Farchione warns that this empathy can also reinforce fearful habits. “It’s a tricky situation — you want to be validated, but that can lead family and friends to get into pattern of accommodation which could be a bad thing,” he says. Loved ones can become sensitive to the sufferer’s fears, such as making sure their home is overly devoid of germs or avoiding fearful situations in order to not cause distress. “That’s not helping either — it’s actually catering to the fear.
Phobia can often be a punchline.
Farchione says that many people will get enjoyment out of springing triggers on people with phobias, like showing a picture of a spider to someone who has arachnophobia. Whether they have the intention of being insensitive or not, he suggests tapping into your empathetic side before making a joke. “Have an appreciation for the fact that their fears, while irrational and tough to understand, for that person they’re totally real,” Farchione says. “It’s better to treat it with courtesy and respect.”
The uneasy feeling that can come with a pill bottle.
There can be a stigma attached to healing emotional and mental disorders through medication — and those who may be using medicine to help with their anxiety may be all too familiar with the uneasy feeling that comes with taking their pills.
As mental health speaker and author Tom Wootton puts it in a blog on Psychology Today, the stigma is just another outward sign of the fear of uncertainty. “We can be afraid of many things, but the worst fear is of the things we are ignorant of,” he wrote. “The combination of fear and ignorance is so powerful that many people think fear is just another word for ignorance .
But when we understand fear and the role it plays in our condition, we can use it as a tool instead of letting it destroy us.”
Farchione stresses that there is absolutely a way to move on if you’re suffering from anxiety, whether it’s through medication, talk therapies or both. He explains that there are multiple methods of treatment — it’s all about finding what works best for you. “There are ways to get help and there is more than one option available,”