When it comes to anxiety, nothing is truly ever simple or easy. Those who suffer from anxiety know firsthand that having the disorder makes even the most normal things difficult. While many people live their lives easily–wake up, shower, eat breakfast, go to work, etc.–those with anxiety struggle to get through normal routines and everyday experiences. While not every single moment of every single day is an obstacle (at least, not for most), there are days where we feel as though it’s impossible to even get out of bed. Nothing about having anxiety is simple or easy. In fact, it’s insanely complex–even more so when people don’t realize you are in a bad “state” or having an off day.
There’s a societal narrative that correlates anxiety attacks to simply hyperventilating and “breathing into a brown paper bag.” The media we’ve grown up around has cemented the image of an “anxiety attack” into our minds of being just that–sheer panic and inability to catch one’s breath. In reality–anxiety attacks can feel this way–but, it’s not always the case. Many people suffer from anxiety, in fact, according to The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety disorders (that’s over 18% of the population). I think it’s safe to say that not everyone suffers in the exact same way.
There are more warning signs of having a loved one suffer from anxiety and a severe anxiety attack that friends, partners, and loved ones should be aware of in order to help, or even give them a break/cut them some slack when things seem a bit off with them.
1. Irritability and testiness:
When someone is having a bad bat with their anxiety, they’re going to be slightly on edge. Anxiety doesn’t come easily–it often times consumes you (especially when you’re having a bad anxiety attack). For this reason, people who are struggling will be edgy and quick to “fly off the handle” when they feel as though they are being called out/attacked. If your friend or loved one isn’t on their game and you feel as though they’re off, don’t push them and pry, continuously asking them “why?” It will make them feel as though you’re putting them on the spot and cause them to lash out. Instead, ask them if they’re okay and see if they can use some help, or maybe even some space (day off).
2. Obsessive behavior:
Anxiety can cause one to feel as though everything is wrong and everything needs to be fixed. When having an attack, sometimes people obsess and nit-pick at things over and over again. This can be in the form of a physical behavior/habit like biting one’s nails, picking at dead skin, twirling hair. It can also be something that is behavioral like changing one’s hair color, nail color, or outfit numerous times. Other times, those suffering will do the same activity over again until they feel satisfied, like cleaning.