Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population… It is highly likely that some of your friends are affected by it.
Has your friend lately been irregular in replying to your messages? Does she avoid talking to you on the phone? Does she become quiet all of a sudden? No, that does not necessarily mean that your friend has suddenly turned snobbish and does not love you anymore. She might be suffering from anxiety.
What then, is anxiety? However non-serious we think this is, anxiety is actually a medical condition. The term is used to describe several disorders which cause fear, apprehension, and nervousness. While anxiety related to mind is something we all experience in our lives when we are about to give an interview or an exam, extreme anxiety can have severe impact on your health. Anxiety can create problems in our normal functioning.
If you know a person who is suffering from this condition, you need to keep in mind a few important things:
1. People with anxiety are known to react out of proportion to situations that might seem trivial to someone else. However, the reason for their anxiety is very much real for them. Therefore, you should try to empathise with your friend and attempt to see things from their point of view.
2. Sometimes they just won’t agree to talk on the phone and would rather chat through messages. It is not because they don’t want to talk to you. They do! However, performance anxiety makes it really difficult for them to have a conversation on phone. They always fear of being judged by the other person. Then what should one do in a situation like this? Try to understand them and respect their choice. Try having short conversations over phone once a week. In this way your friend might gradually start feeling more confident and less fearful about it.
3. People with extreme anxiety tend to get angry and frustrated more often and sometimes the anger is out of place and proportion. Do not take it personally. Be patient with them. Try to talk to them through their anger and help them calm down. Trust me; your efforts will be appreciated by your friend when s/he comes back to her normal state.
4. If you feel that your friend has begun to isolate herself, don’t give up on them. Tell her that you are always there for her and care for her. Be patient yet persistent with them. Keep trying to strike some conversation with them or make sure they do not get excluded.
5. While you should not isolate your friend, at the same you shouldn’t force them to speak or take part in fun activities. There are times when they need to be alone and get on terms with their own thoughts. Anxiety cannot be cured by not worrying about it or taking your mind off it. As much as your friend needs you, she needs some space too; space to breath and relax their mind.
6. Try to be supportive. We know that it can be burdensome at times to keep up with all the anger and frustration of your friend. It can be exhausting too. At times you may feel like just getting away from all the annoyance. But if you do get away, you are not a friend. Bear with them. They are well aware that you go through a lot because of their anxiety. They will remember it and next time when you need some help they will be there for you.