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How to Help Someone Experiencing an Anxiety Attack

John from the mentalhealthhotline.org shred that as an estimated 40 million Americans are painfully aware, anxiety is a real, devastating disorder, one that can dramatically and negatively impact their lives. Unfortunately, the loved ones of someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder know that these challenges can leave them feeling helpless, unable to assist the person that they care about in combating a very damaging illness. Thankfully, there are many ways that a person can help someone who is suffering from an anxiety disorder.

What Is an Anxiety Disorder?

An anxiety disorder is defined as anxiety that grows worse over time and is more than just the occasional challenge or normal reaction to everyday circumstances. It is anxiety — or fear of anxiety — that interferes with everyday life, causes needless pain, and ultimately sucks the enjoyment out of living. Anxiety disorders do more than just annoy; they also make it harder to work, enjoy our relationships with loved ones, or function in society.

What Are Some Types of Anxiety Disorders?

It is important to realize that “anxiety” is a wide-ranging term that means so much more than someone who feels afraid of a particular situation. Indeed, there is a range of anxiety disorders. These include:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorders are among the most common anxiety disorders. They are characterized by relatively constant anxiety or stress that seems to exist for no reason at all and has no specific trigger. Symptoms include constant fear or worry, extreme irritability, fatigue, physical aches and pain, and challenges with sleep. It can best be described as constant free-floating anxiety that seems to exist without a cause or trigger.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by a constant compulsion to engage in certain types of behavior, such as touching things, cleaning, or other rituals. The need to perform these rituals is driven by a fear that something “bad” will happen if they are not performed, and not performing them can lead to extreme increases in anxiety.

Panic Disorder

Panic disorders are relatively common as well, and they are characterized by panic or anxiety attacks. A panic attack is a terrifying experience in which someone cannot control their levels of anxiety. They cause massive spikes in fear and a variety of physical symptoms, such as chest pain, upset stomach, sweating, and more. They can be triggered by specific circumstances or occur out of absolutely nowhere. Panic disorders not only lead to panic attacks but can also lead to a fear of panic attacks. This, in turn, can result in someone spending more time in their home and becoming agoraphobic, meaning that they do not leave their home or engage in social situations.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder is what occurs after a traumatic incident, such as a violent attack, robbery, or sexual assault. An individual can have trouble processing the traumatic experience that they have endured, resulting in uncontrolled anxiety and flashbacks. PTSD is also very common among members of the military.

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