I’ve written quite a bit over the past year about depression. However, many people who experience emotional health issues don’t just suffer from depression. In my case, the doctor diagnosed me with Mixed Anxiety and Depressive disorder. So, I wanted to write a little bit about anxiety now.
Anxiety can be experienced as a chronic over alertness and feeling of stress over a significant period of time. It can be the cause of sleepless nights and express itself physically in conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Indeed there can be a vicious cycle as you worry about going into social situations and experiencing and IBS attack, this increases the anxiety which in turn exacerbates the IBS symptoms.
Anxiety can also be experienced as an acute attack. I’ve certainly experienced this. Feelings will include a physical tightness in the chest, shortness of breath and a pounding heart. But it can also overload the brain as extreme emotions kick in so that a storm of emotion is experienced. You feel completely out of control, unable to think straight and unable to string words together.
Because the anxiety attack is also affecting adrenalin, the follow up to it can be a crash into exhaustion. After the attack is finished you just want to hide away and curl up into a ball. This is where anxiety becomes linked to depression.
If you are waking with someone through emotional health struggles then you probably want to know what you can do for them. Of course, the challenge is that everyone’s experience is different. However, generally speaking, I think it is fair to say that the most important thing you can do is be there for a friend who is struggling. Primarily this is about being there to support, listen and to pray. More than in any other context, an anxiety attack is the last place where someone is ready to hear advice and opinions. Also, if you tend to be the type of person who likes to help others problem solve by throwing out questions and options, bite your tongue. This is likely to overwhelm, don’t be surprised if this sense of being overwhelmed and overloaded is expressed in what seems to be irritation and anger. Also, be aware that it may not be anger so much as frustration and it almost definitely isn’t aimed at you.
If you struggle with anxiety, it might be helpful to start to get a feel for what triggers the anxiety. Know where the stress points are and learn how to face, avoid or mitigate them. Learn about he pattern of response, how do you feel and how do you express yourself at different stages.
Find hope in Christ, he is the one who can take captive, transform and renew your mind. Enjoy Psalms and songs that give a sense of peace. Don’t give up hope.