How can I explain my anxiety disorders to my friends?
Last Updated: 02/16/2021 at 2:00pm
Mark Harrison, MSW, LICSW, PIP
Clinical Social Work/Therapist
I invite you into therapy with an open mind, warm positive regard, and no judgement.
Top Rated Answers
I find it helpful to focus on the biological side of Anxiety disorder: it is a chemical imbalance in my brain. My body doesn't produce enough of this enzyme called serotonin. Just like when a person has diabetes their pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin. They take insulin to stay balanced. I take anxiety meds for the same reason. Another important thing to mention is what triggers you. "When you talk about (inserttriggerhere) it makes my brain go into fight or flight mode."
He can start by asking them have you ever had panic attacks? if yes then say well have then more than usual...
The truth is, no matter how much you explain it they will never truly understand what it's like living with anxiety. But, if you really want to explain it to them, tell them openly and honestly how it feels, the thoughts that go through your head, what causes you the most anxiety. If large crowds cause you to have large anxiety attacks, explain to them that being in large crowds make you feel claustrophobic, like you're suffocating in a sea of people, or however it makes you feel. No one can explain or understand your disorder better than you.
Anxiety can be difficult to explain to those who don't experience it. There are many online resources that describe what anxiety is, and they may be helpful in explaining it to your friends. If you would like something more personal - it can be helpful for you to write down your experiences and describe them to yourself as if you were telling a story. Think along the lines of describing jealousy as a 'green eyed monster that follows me around.". Don't be discouraged if they don't understand at first, it can be a difficult topic to understand.
You could give them a brief understanding of it e.g that you get nervous a lot within certain situations in which prevents you going further with that activity/choice , they'll understand and support you :)
Your battle with anxiety and panic attacks is only going to show others how strong and brave you are for putting up with such stressful acts for an extended period of time. You are an amazing ,strong and brave warrior. You should always remember that .
Tell them that sometimes you overthink or panic over things that might feel completely trivial to them, but isn't to you. Explain what it's really like for you, how it feels and that it's serious. I hope it goes well for you.
If your friends have absolutely no idea explaing to them the way you would explain it to a friend but if they get the outline tell them how it changes you
I found that explaining my panic disorder and anxiety to my friends were both difficult and easy at the same time. It can be difficult to tell people that do not experience it as well; but explaining what anxiety is to them will make the process easier. I'm sure that your friends will support you regardless :)
One way to explain an anxiety disorder is to let them know that you do tend to get more nervous and anxious about situations versus the average person. So if they think that you over react to something, they will know that it is normal in your circumstances.
Sit them down and tell them you have something to say and I need your full attention, so please hear me out. This is how you would start explaining it
As simple as possible. Explain the issue in an impersonal way sometimes helps. And of course, let them know is not a fatal condition.
If your friends are supportive they will know. If they don't then make them understand. They will help you.
If I were you, I'd start with one or two closer friends, and see how they react. Just tell them about it slowly, and if they are good friends, they will completely understand and try their best to help you. After the couple of closest friends have accepted it, then keep going. You will know you have those best friends to support you when you need it.
Talk to them when you are all relaxed and not busy with something else. It is likely that they will understand where you are coming from. Anxiety is a very common thing.
I personally had a friend who knew nothing about anxiety or mental health. So I drew her a sketch of what anxiety feels like. I drew myself and my friends, except they were all together having fun and I was stood alone in chains. We're still best friends to this day and she now understands me better than ever.
I say it's like bees buzzing by your head each with a irrational thought of what could go wrong or what you've done wrong. They come out of no where and buzz by your ear distracting you all the time and making it hard to do anything at all. To the point where you won't go outside or go anywhere where there might be bees.
Only explain it to them in a way which your comfortable telling them. Don't feel obliged to tell them everything if its unnecessary, and make sure they are trustworthy and open-minded friends, because you deserve no less:)
Do it in a way in which you feel the most comfortable. It could be face to face, a Skype call, messages, anything really. Explain to them in a clear way how it feels and how you might react in certain situations that may seem stress free to others.
You can start by sitting them down. You shouldn't just tell them out of the blue, or in the middle of lunch, when there's a lot of people around, but when it is quiet and they can focus on you. If they refuse, well they aren't really that good of friends are they? And once you've sat them down, you can say "I wanted you to be aware that I have this condition that makes me get really scared and/or frightened at things, things that I really shouldn't get anxious at. But I'm working on it. And I wanted you to know because I trust you and want you to be aware." And wait for their response. They may be shocked, they may ask questions, just answer them with care and do not get upset at the questions they ask.
Relate your feelings to a fear they may have, but explain that with an anxiety disorder, there is not always a clear reason for the fear or a logical path of thinking to overcome the fear. It is largely subconscious, but feels just as vivid to you. Explain to them that even if you know your fear and worry is being caused by an anxiety disorder, that doesn't lessen the intensity of the worry you are feeling in the moment. You can't "think your way out of it" because sometimes, you aren't even sure why you feel this way. Letting them know that the best thing they can do is let you know that you are not alone can help them feel comfortable in approaching the topic.
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