of anxiety disorders and their families may spend months,
even years, without knowing what is wrong. It can be frustrating
and can put a strain on relationships; this strain is not
necessarily alleviated once there is a diagnosis. Recovery
can be a long process.
members often want to help the sufferer, but do not know how.
An important fact to keep in mind is that anxiety disorders
are real, serious, but treatable medical conditions. Having
one is not a sign of weakness or lack of moral fiber. There
is reliable evidence linking Panic Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive
Disorder, and other anxiety disorders to brain chemistry,
and even life events can trigger the onset of an anxiety disorder
in a person who is genetically predisposed.
any other illness, anxiety disorders can take a toll on the
family and friends of the sufferer. Household routines are
disrupted, sometimes special plans or allowances need to be
made, and the person with the disorder may be reluctant to
participate in typical social activities. These factors can
have a negative impact on family dynamics. Family members
should learn as much as they can about the disorder, which
will help them know what to expect from the illness and from
the recovery process. Family member should also learn also
when to be patient with the sufferer and when to push.
support is important to the recovery process, but there is
no magic cure. Getting better takes hard work, mostly on the
part of the sufferer, and patience, mostly on the part of
the family. Some things family members can do to help a loved
one diagnosed with an anxiety disorder are:
- Learn about
- Recognize and
praise small accomplishments.
- Modify expectations
during stressful periods.
- Measure progress
on the basis of individual improvement, not against some
- Be flexible
and try to maintain a normal routine.
is also important for family members to keep in mind that
the recovery process is stressful for them too. They should
build a support network of relatives and friends for themselves.
Remember that with proper treatment by a mental health professional
anxiety disorders can be overcome.