1. When an anxious person says that they never stop thinking about something, believe them.
Things keep going round and round in your head in an endless loop. And you better believe that the anxious person is conscious of that, but that doesn’t mean that they like it.
In an interview with BuzzFeed Brasil, professor Hélio Deliberador, of the Department of Social Psychology at PUC-SP, explained that “this constant thinking is, in a certain way, a clinical fixation condition which is characteristic of anxiety.”
2. Anxious people are always experiencing some degree of physical pain.
Whether it’s a lump in the throat, a knot in the stomach, or a constant backache, imagine how it is for someone to live with that pain 24 hours a day.
Hélio explains that these pains are psychosomatic externalizations of the anxiety. “It’s the body experiencing suffering which corresponds to the clinical condition. For example, in addition to the symptoms of pain, accelerated heartbeat and sweating can also occur.”
3. Beyond constantly dealing with these discomforts, the anxious individual also fears that they will get worse, like a panic attack.
Acute stress, post-traumatic stress, panic attacks, and social phobia are some of the clinical conditions of acute anxiety.
Professor Hélio points out that this is a characteristic of someone who possesses a certain level of information about anxiety. “It’s important to remember that anxiety must be understood and prevented, though a person who is anxious will not necessarily suffer a worsening of the condition.”
4. “You need to find something that makes you relax” is one of the worst things that you can say to an anxious person.
“Do you really think that if there were a way of making all that goes on in my head calm down, I wouldn’t have tried it already?”
5. “We need to talk about some important things at the end of the day” is an equally despairing statement.
You can even say it, but be aware that you will make the person suffer a lot and that their productivity will be next to nothing until the moment of the conversation.
6. Fatigue is a constant factor in the lives of the anxious.
After all, it is almost impossible to turn it off in order to sleep.
Hélio explains that the difficulty of getting to sleep is part of the anxiety syndrome. “The fact that they cannot get quality sleep means that the person’s structures are more heated than those of others,” he says. In other words, if your head lives in the fast lane, you will probably have problems slowing it down in bed, too.
7. The sleep of an anxious person is practically an earthquake.
Not even while sleeping does the anxious person calm down. In most cases, they fidget a lot, talk in their sleep, and wake up repeatedly throughout the night.
The professor points out that “when an anxious person is tired, they are quite troubled by the order of the oneiric phenomena (dreams),” says Hélio. “Studies conducted by the Institute of Sleep indicate that intense dreams affect sleep and are thus another element that increases the suffering of the anxious person.”
8. Anxious people are absurdly critical of others, but they are 10 times more critical of themselves.
Nothing is good, so imagine how hopeless it feels to live in a world that always has problems.
9. Anxious people usually get anxious about their own anxiety (which is quite crazy).
A big part of the anxious person’s time is spent observing and protecting themselves against large spikes of anxiety, which generates a lot of added stress.
10. It can be very difficult for you to be demanding with an anxious person, but it is a thousand times more difficult for them to be on the receiving end of your demands.
It can be the tiniest thing, but nothing is simple for someone who is anxious. A simple “what if you tried a lighter shade of lipstick?” already makes the person feel entirely incapable of putting on makeup ever again.
11. Whatever you do, don’t say “You need to learn to live in the moment.”
We guarantee that this is one of the things that an anxious person would most like to do but, out of nowhere, concerns about the future come up and they become unable to live in the now.
“These, and all other sentences in this post, are things commonly said to anxious people. And you must be careful saying them because they cause an overload for the people, which can subsequently lead to a more serious anxiety disorder,” explains Hélio.
12. Anxious people are divided into two major groups: the hyperactive and the very hampered.
The hyperactive ones occupy their minds with the most things possible in order to be able to live without going crazy, while the hampered ones are incapable of doing many activities because they dedicate a huge chunk of time to their own anxiety.
To Hélio, these characteristics are common due to a combination of external and internal factors: the burden of obligations and activities to which a person is exposed on a daily basis, combined with the psycho-motor agitation of the anxious person.
13. Congratulating someone for being able to accomplish a variety of tasks is not necessarily a compliment.
Doing several things at the same time may not be a sign of modernity or agility, but rather the inability to stay still, which can really tire one out.
14. “Could you please stop and pay attention?” is equally as uncomfortable for an anxious person to hear.
Contrary to popular belief, doing several things at once is not a sign of rudeness or disgrace. Oftentimes, it boils down to the inability of the anxious person to dedicate themselves to a single task. If it is demanded of them, they might become more tense and thus pay even less attention.
15. Decision-making, even if it is about small things, can be quite painful.
“What if I make the wrong choice? How will I live with that?”
16. The best way to help an anxious friend is by making discrete suggestions.
Avoid saying “you can do such and such to calm down” and try other approaches like, “Girl, I’m going to this Pilates class and I’m loving it. You should come with me one day!”
Hélio additionally recommends “being together with the person during activities which have a greater amount of self-awareness, concentration, breathing, and body consciousness. Eventually, psychotherapeutic and medical assistance may also be useful.”