Tips To Help Cope With Crippling Anxiety

Reviewed by Aaron Horn, LMFT

Published 12/09/2020

According to the ADAA, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health conditions, impacting 18.1% of those aged 18 and older in the United States in any given year. Additionally, the prevalence of anxiety disorders in children and teens ages 3 to 17 is 7.1% in the United States. Many people describe their anxiety by saying that they have crippling anxiety. But, what is crippling anxiety? If you have it, is there anything that can truly help? Read on to find tips that can help you cope with crippling anxiety and how to find support.

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What Is Crippling Anxiety?

When someone tells you that they have crippling anxiety, they’re actually saying that they have severe or extreme anxiety. Severe anxiety can impact a person’s life in many ways. Not only can anxiety impact a person’s interpersonal relationships, but it can also affect someone’s ability to engage in daily life tasks or perform at work and school, which is a source of stress for many who live with anxiety. Anxiety disorders aren’t the same as nervousness or even situational anxiety. Although it’s not easy to live with, anxiety disorders are treatable, and symptoms can improve with adequate help and support.

Tips For Coping With Severe Anxiety

It’s advantageous to have a toolbox of coping skills when you’re living with something like anxiety. Here are some things that you can do both at the moment and long term to help you manage anxiety symptoms.

Tips For When Struggling At The Moment

When you are experiencing severe anxiety, it can be tough to think of what to do. It is beneficial to have a variety of easily accessible tools to turn to during this time. Here are some things you can do if you need anxiety support right now:

  • Breathing exercises, whether they are self-directed or directed via mobile apps, and online video, or pre-recorded audio
  • Using distractions, which could be anything from drawing to talking to a friend
  • Using mantras such as “all I can do is all I can do” to help you get through the moment and put things in perspective.
  • Meditation, whether it’s self-directed or guided through pre-recorded audio, video, or mobile apps
  • If you can, step outside for some fresh air
  • Reach out to a loved one, peer, hotline, or support network

Help From Family And Friends

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Social support is essential for all of us, and when you have a mental health condition, having people around you who understand or who you can talk to is extremely beneficial. If your friends and family members don’t also have anxiety and don’t know much about it, provide them with educational tools, such as books or online articles, and guide them through learning. Share your unique experiences, break stigma or misconceptions, and let them know what they can do to support you when you’re experiencing symptoms. Often, loved ones want to support someone who struggles with mental health but aren’t sure what to do. Your guidance will help, especially since it will encompass your unique experience. You might even ask them to come into a therapy or psychiatry session so that they can gain a better understanding of your anxiety disorder.

Support Groups

If you don’t have anyone to talk to who understands anxiety, you might benefit from joining a support group. You can find a support group online, or you can join one in your local area. Find a support group by searching the web for “anxiety support groups near me,” asking a mental health provider for a recommendation, or searching for online support groups.

Online Forums

Did you know that there are online forums created specifically for anxiety? It’s true. Websites like Anxiety Central and Mental Health Forum have mental health forums where you can talk to people online who are going through the same thing. It’s comforting to have people in your life who understand. Sometimes, you can get support from friends and family members, and that’s amazing. Especially if you have someone in your life, which puts the time and effort into understanding anxiety, it can be incredibly beneficial. That said, there’s often a special understanding among other people going through the same thing, whether that’s anxiety, grief, or something else. If you choose to use an online forum, make sure it’s one that’s healthy for you. Check-in with yourself regularly and make sure that the websites you visit are adaptive and beneficial.

Therapy Or Counseling

Therapy is one of the most popular forms of treatment for anxiety disorders. Types of therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT, are very beneficial for anxiety disorders. Seeing a therapist can help treat anxiety long-term and learn skills to use daily or whenever you need them.

How To Support A Partner With Anxiety

Often, if someone is looking up information about anxiety online, it’s either because someone close to them has anxiety or because they suspect that they may have anxiety themselves. Someone might also lookup anxiety after they’re diagnosed in an attempt to better understand their symptoms. One of the best ways to support someone else in your life with anxiety is to listen and make an effort to learn more about anxiety in general, as well as the specific ways it impacts that particular person. Again, anxiety affects everyone differently. You might look at a particular anxiety symptom and think, “well, they don’t seem to have that.” That doesn’t mean that they don’t have anxiety; it likely just means that it manifests differently. For example, some people have anxiety that manifests through irritability, where other people don’t necessarily face that symptom, or it’s not common for them to experience that symptom. Additionally, there are different types of anxiety to know about, and this can make a difference. For example, if someone has social anxiety, it will look different than someone’s anxiety might if they have a specific phobia that is not related to social situations. If your partner is open about having an anxiety disorder, especially if they are coming to you for support or trying to explain their anxiety to you, trust and listen to their personal experiences and ask them what you can do to help. For example, if they struggle with panic attacks, one of the best things you can do is ask them what to do for them during a panic attack by saying something along the lines of, “how can I best support you when you have a panic attack?” Do this when the person is feeling calm and ready to talk about it rather than knowing how to help when the time comes. If they’re undergoing severe anxiety in the present moment, ask yes or no questions such as, “would you like me to sit with you, or do you want to be alone?” and “do you want some water?”

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Types Of Anxiety

Here are the different types of anxiety listed in the DSM-5, which is the most recent edition of the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. The diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders is used by professionals to diagnose mental health conditions.

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by recurring and persistent panic attacks.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by excessive worry that substantially impacts a person’s life.

Specific Phobias

Specific phobias are exactly what they sound like. This anxiety disorder is characterized by someone having a specific phobia that impacts their life and functioning significantly. An example of this is that someone might avoid events or situations where they could potentially encounter phobia, leading to problems in someone’s life.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder is also very much what it sounds like. Social anxiety disorder is characterized by anxiety that occurs due to social situations or the anticipation of social situations.

Selective Mutism

Selective mutism is an anxiety disorder that is most often seen in children. It occurs when a child cannot speak in certain situations (a common one, for example, is at school) but can talk in situations where they are more comfortable. For instance, a child may not communicate verbally when they’re at school or at an after school club, but they talk to their family at home with no trouble. It is absolutely crucial to note that someone with selective mutism is not “refusing” to speak on purpose. It is not a choice.

Separation Anxiety Disorder

Separation anxiety disorder is also most frequently seen in kids, though it can also impact adults. Separation anxiety occurs when someone is very attached to a specific person or people, often a caregiver or guardian. It is characterized by extreme distress when said person is away.

How To Get Treatment For Anxiety

If you are looking for professional help for anxiety and don’t know where to go, there are a number of potential routes to take. Many people start with their general doctor. If you go to your primary care provider or general doctor, you can explain your symptoms and ask for a mental health therapist or counselor referral. Another option is to contact your insurance company to ask which providers they cover in your area or visit their website for information on providers near you. You can also search for a therapist who works with anxiety by searching the web for “anxiety therapists near me,” using an online directory or provider search tool such as the one on the mind diagnostics website or using a therapy website like BetterHelp.

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Take The Mind Diagnostics Anxiety Test

If you think you might have anxiety, you can take an online test to understand and gauge your experiences. Although the Mind Diagnostics anxiety test is not a replacement for individual medical or mental health advice, nor is it a replacement for a diagnosis, it can help you gain insight into your symptoms and how they are impacting your life.

Click here to take the Mind Diagnostics anxiety test.

*For all individual medical or mental health advice, please consult a medical or mental health professional.