How to Help Those With Anxiety Disorders

From http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/102012090 

‚ÄúMy heart often pounds really hard, and I break out in a cold sweat and find it difficult to catch my breath. I am overcome by feelings of dread, anxiety, and mental confusion.‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒIsabella, a panic disorder sufferer in her forties.

ANXIETY can be described as ‚Äúa feeling of nervousness or worry.‚ÄĚ Have you, for example, ever felt nervous when confronted by an angry dog? What happens when the dog goes away? The nervousness and worry do too, don‚Äôt they? What, though, is an anxiety disorder?

When anxiety becomes chronic, when it continues even after there is no more need to feel anxious, anxiety can become a disorder. According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), ‚Äúanxiety disorders affect about 40¬†million American adults age 18 years and older .¬†.¬†. in a given year.‚ÄĚ Consider Isabella, quoted in the introduction. Unrelenting anxiety, such as she experiences, can have serious consequences for the sufferer.

Not only that, but the immediate family may also be affected adversely. There is good news, though. An NIMH publication states: ‚ÄúEffective therapies for anxiety disorders are available, and research is uncovering new treatments that can help most people with anxiety disorders lead productive, fulfilling lives.‚ÄĚ

Family and friends can also help one who is suffering from an anxiety disorder. How?

How to Help

Be supportive:¬†Monica, who suffers from generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, explains a difficulty she faces: ‚ÄúMost people find it hard to understand my emotional problems.‚ÄĚ

As a result, anxiety disorder sufferers are often so afraid of being misunderstood that they try to hide their problem from others. This can result in feelings of guilt that worsen their emotional state. It is vitally important, therefore, for family and friends to be supportive.

Learn more about the disorder: This suggestion may be especially appropriate for those who deal closely with sufferers of anxiety disorders. This may include an immediate family member or a particularly close friend.

Keep comforting one another:¬†The first-century missionary Paul urged friends in the Greek city of Thessalonica to ‚Äúkeep comforting one another and building one another up.‚ÄĚ (1¬†Thessalonians 5:11) We can do this both by our words and our tone of voice. We need to show that we deeply care for our friends, and we need to avoid hurtful insinuations.

Consider the three professed friends of the man Job, after whom a book in the Bible is named. Those men, as you may remember, wrongly implied that Job was in some way covering over concealed sins and that his suffering was the result of his cover-up.

So, be sensitive to a sufferer‚Äôs feelings. Listen carefully. Try to view matters through the eyes of the one who is suffering, rather than through your own. Do not jump to conclusions while listening. Job‚Äôs professed friends did, and as a result, they were called ‚Äútroublesome comforters.‚ÄĚ They actually made him feel worse!‚ÄĒJob 16:2.

Remember to listen carefully to sufferers. Allow them to express freely how they feel. This may help you to understand better what they are going through. And think of the reward! You may be able to help sufferers enjoy a more full and meaningful life.

Identifying Types of Anxiety Disorders

Understanding anxiety disorders is vital, especially when the people involved are immediate family members or close friends. Consider five types of such disorders.

Panic Disorders¬†Recall Isabella, mentioned in the introduction of our article. It is not only the attacks of anxiety that she finds disabling. ‚ÄúIn between them, there is the dread that an attack is going to happen again,‚ÄĚ she says. As a result, sufferers tend to avoid places where they have had an attack. Some become so restricted that they are housebound or are able to confront a feared situation only when accompanied by someone they trust. Isabella explained: ‚ÄúMerely being alone is enough to trigger an attack. Mother gives me security; I can‚Äôt stand it if she is not nearby.‚ÄĚ

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder¬†A person obsessed with germs or dirt may develop a compulsion to wash his hands over and over again. Regarding a similar compulsion, Renan says: ‚ÄúMy mind is in constant turmoil as I go over and over past mistakes, reanalyzing them and looking at them from every possible angle.‚ÄĚ The result is an obsession to confess past mistakes to others. Renan is in constant need of reassurance. But medication has been of help in controlling his obsession.*

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders¬†(PTSD) In recent times this term has been used to describe a range of psychological symptoms people may experience following an extremely traumatic event that involved physical harm or the threat of such.¬†PTSDsufferers may startle easily, be irritable, become emotionally numb, lose interest in things they once enjoyed, and have trouble feeling affection for others‚ÄĒespecially those with whom they used to be close. Some become aggressive, even violent, and tend to avoid situations that remind them of the original traumatic incident.

Social Phobia, or Social Anxiety Disorder This is a term used to identify people who are overwhelmingly anxious and excessively self-conscious in everyday social situations. Some sufferers have an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. They may worry for days or weeks before attending an event. Their fear may become so severe that it interferes with work, school, or other ordinary activities and makes it hard for them to make and keep friends.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder¬†Monica, mentioned earlier, suffers from this disorder. She goes through the day filled with ‚Äúexaggerated worries,‚ÄĚ even though there is little or nothing to provoke them. Sufferers tend to anticipate disaster and are overly concerned with health issues, money, family problems, or difficulties at work. Just the thought of getting through the day may produce anxiety.*

[Footnotes]

Awake! does not endorse any specific medical treatment.

The above material is based on a publication of the National Institute of Mental Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Seek First The Kingdom

One¬†scripture that constantly¬†comes to mind is¬†Matthew 6:33¬†which states, “Keep on, then, seeking first the Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.”

With this in mind we have decided to work on personal improvement so that we might serve God to the full extent that our own circumstances permit. I officially put in the paperwork for early retirement two weeks ago.

We start our mornings now with the daily text, a prayer, and either field service or medical appointments. We round out the end of the day with personal or family study, meetings (twice per week), Etsy order filling, and housework.¬†It’s still a little scary, but I think that means we are on the right track.

luke 1 45 wm Happy is she who believed

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Focus On Today

I was thinking today about how overwhelmed I’ve been. In making decisions about our path to the next adventure in our lives I feel like my husband and I might have lost our way.

keep calm and focus on today

I saw the above meme online and it made me stop for just a second and remember our model prayer. We are instructed in Matthew to pray for today. We are reminded to “not be afraid” and to “never be anxious”. So, I need to pray for help with those things. Deep breath!

be not afraid

I’ll just leave these scriptures here for a reminder:

Matthew 6:22, 23

22 “The lamp of the body is the eye.+ If, then, your eye is simple,* your whole body will be bright; 23 but if your eye is wicked,*+ your whole body will be dark. If in reality the light that is in you is darkness, how great that darkness is!+

1 Timothy 6:8

8 So, having sustenance and covering, we shall be content with these things.+

Matthew 6:33

33 “Keep on, then, seeking* first the kingdom and his righteousness,+ and all these [other] things will be added to YOU

Hebrews 13:5

5¬†Let [YOUR] manner of life be free of the love of money,+¬†while YOU are content+¬†with the present things.+¬†For he has said: ‚ÄúI will by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you.‚ÄĚ

Luke 12:15

15 Then he said to them: “Keep YOUR eyes open and guard against every sort of covetousness,+ because even when a person has an abundance his life does not result from the things he possesses

Philippians 1:10

10 that YOU may make sure of the more important things,+ so that YOU may be flawless+ and not be stumbling+ others up to the day of Christ,

Galatians 5:22, 23

22 On the other hand, the fruitage+ of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness,+ faith, 23 mildness, self-control.+ Against such things there is no law.+

Galatians 6:9

9 So let us not give up in doing what is fine,+ for in due season we shall reap if we do not tire out.+

Psalm 37:10

10 And just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more;+

And you will certainly give attention to his place, and he will not be.+

Proverbs 2:21, 22

21 For the upright are the ones that will reside in the earth,+ and the blameless are the ones that will be left over in it.+ 22 As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth;+ and as for the treacherous, they will be torn away from it.+

1 Thessalonians 5:6

6 So, then, let us not sleep+ on as the rest do,+ but let us stay awake+ and keep our senses

Luke 21:34, 35

34 “But pay attention to yourselves that YOUR hearts never become weighed down with overeating and heavy+ drinking and anxieties+ of life,* and suddenly that day be instantly upon YOU+ 35 as a snare.+ For it will come in upon all those dwelling upon the face of all the earth.+

Colossians 3:5

5 Deaden,+ therefore, YOUR body members+ that are upon the earth as respects fornication,* uncleanness,* sexual appetite,*+ hurtful desire, and covetousness,+ which is idolatry.

Philippians 4:8

8 Finally, brothers, whatever things* are true, whatever things are of serious concern, whatever things are righteous, whatever things are chaste,+ whatever things are lovable,* whatever things are well spoken of, whatever virtue there is and whatever praiseworthy thing there is, continue considering these things.+

Philippians 4:6, 7

6 Do not be anxious over anything,+ but in everything by prayer and supplication+ along with thanksgiving let YOUR petitions be made known to God;+ 7 and the peace+ of God that excels all thought will guard YOUR hearts+ and YOUR mental powers by means of Christ Jesus

Matthew 8:20

20¬†But Jesus said to him: ‚ÄúFoxes have dens and birds of heaven have roosts, but the Son of man*¬†has nowhere to lay down his head.‚ÄĚ+

Proverbs 3:5, 6

5 Trust in Jehovah with all your heart+ and do not lean upon your own understanding.+ 6 In all your ways take notice of him,+ and he himself will make your paths straight.+

2 Corinthians 13:5

5 Keep testing whether YOU are in the faith, keep proving what YOU yourselves are.+ Or do YOU not recognize that Jesus Christ is in union with YOU?+ Unless YOU are disapproved.

2 Timothy 1:7

7 For God gave us not a spirit of cowardice,+ but that of power+ and of love and of soundness of mind.+

Isaiah 41:10

10 Do not be afraid, for I am with you.+ Do not gaze about, for I am your God.*+ I will fortify you.+ I will really help you.+ I will really keep fast hold of you with my right hand+ of righteousness

James 4:7, 8

7 Subject yourselves,+ therefore, to God; but oppose* the Devil,+ and he will flee from YOU.+ 8 Draw close to God, and he will draw close to YOU.+ Cleanse YOUR hands, YOU sinners,+ and purify YOUR hearts,+ YOU indecisive*+ ones

Proverbs 19:20

20 Listen to counsel and accept discipline,+ in order that you may become wise in your future.+

What, What, What Are We Doing??

(See bottom of this blog post for an update)

Sometimes desperate circumstances call for desperate measures. Once I understood that my best friend and lover was suffering from a disabling disorder (combat-related PTSD) that wasn’t responding to traditional therapy I asked myself, “what else can we¬†do?”. I did research online and at the library. I called his psychiatrist whenever I needed advice and started seeing a therapist myself specifically for PTSD caregiver support.

Then I saw this blog, Two Happy Campers, where this couple decided to leave¬†their home (part-time) and go on outdoor adventures in a truck camper with their two dogs. I thought that was extreme. I mean, I’m a city girl! I like the idea of camping but am much better suited for five-star hotels, spas, and room service. The more I dug into camper/RV lifestyles (there are tons of blogs about this, who knew?) I started to recall phrases I had been reading and hearing regarding coping with PTSD:

  • Keep things simple
  • Put¬†everything in its place (my hubby has OCD tendencies)
  • Focus on the basics
  • One day at a time
  • Get fresh air, start exercising
  • Don’t¬†isolate
  • Make thoughtful changes

Then I thought, could we consider this? Could we simplify¬†our 5 bedroom house (we have a lot of stuff for just two people and it’s a constant source of stress for my husband), downsize our wardrobes, cut our ties with the 9 to 5 (and live on just his disability), and lead a much more frugal life?

The same things in the bulleted list above are what we learn from the Holy Scriptures. At Matthew 6:22 it states,¬†‚ÄúThe lamp of the body is the eye.¬†If, then, your eye is focused,¬†your whole body will be bright. The footnote lets us know that the context of the¬†translated word “focused” is modern “simple”. So, keep your eye simple. What we were learning from mental health professionals aligned with what we are taught from the holy scriptures. Acting on it was a no-brainer!

tiny house

Crazy, right? Then I thought, maybe the way we live right now is crazy. The average American spends 1/3 to 1/2 of their income on a home that takes 15 years to work to pay off. 76% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Maybe living the “normal” way is actually¬†crazy. What if we could live on less and instead of investing in a career and house we could invest in our personal relationships with our creator, each other, and nature?

Rat-Race

Next, I though about living vs. surviving. With PTSD it seems like the sufferer and his family just survives daily life. I want (and deserve) to see my husband really live, not just survive. What if by changing things drastically we could both get back to living instead of just getting through each day to face another filled with the same issues in the same spot?

dont just survive live

Another scripture that kept coming to mind is Matthew 6:33 which states, “Keep on, then, seeking first the Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” With this in mind we decided that going from full-time working to full-time RVing seemed like a moot point. So¬†we have decided¬†to work on¬†personal improvement so that we might serve God to the full extent that¬†our own¬†circumstances permit.

We start our mornings now with the daily text, a prayer, and either field service or medical appointments. We round out the end of the day with personal or family study, meetings, and housework.¬†It’s still a little scary, but I think that means we are on the right track. The planning stages of this adventure has begun. Join us while we figure out the rest!

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2016 UPDATE

I’m a regular pioneer as of September 1, 2016. As of May 5, 2017 we are part-time RVers and international travelers for need-greater work!!

…¬†Matthew 6:33¬†states, “Keep on, then, seeking first the Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.”¬†With this in mind we decided that going from full-time working to full-time RVing seemed like a moot point.¬†So¬†we have decided¬†to work on¬†personal improvement so that we might serve God to the full extent that¬†our own¬†circumstances permit.

We start our mornings now with the daily text, a prayer, and either field service or medical appointments. We round out the end of the day with personal or family study, meetings, and housework.¬†It’s still a little scary, but I think that means we are on the right track. The adventure has begun. Join us while we figure out the rest!