How Can I Tell If A Friend Or Family Member Has Problems Consistent With An Anxiety Disorder And Needs Help?

Dr. Joan Anzia answers the question: 'Possible Anxiety Disorder In A Relative?'

ByABC News
April 15, 2008, 5:21 PM

— -- Question: How can I tell if a friend or family member has problems consistent with an anxiety disorder and needs help?

Answer: Well, these symptoms and signs can be pretty easy to see, and they're different for all the anxiety disorders. Certainly, for generalized anxiety, if your loved one really feels tense and anxious all the time, seems frightened most of the time, has difficulty making decisions, seems to have symptoms of sweating or upset stomach or heart pounding a lot of the time, that would be a reason for concern, and certainly if it's interfering with their social life or their work life.

Family members who have panic attacks, those symptoms are pretty dramatic, because oftentimes they will feel like they're having a heart attack or as if they're going crazy. They hyperventilate, they feel their heart is pounding, they may feel very dizzy, they may even faint. So those symptoms are pretty hard to miss.

Symptoms of OCD are also pretty easy to see even though the individual may try to hide them. Repeated hand washing, needing to have everything absolutely perfectly clean, or in perfect order, and they get disturbed if they're out of order -- those become pretty apparent. Or, excessive hoarding -- filling up the garage or closet with all kinds of things, being unable to throw things away. Those are all symptoms of OCD.

In posttraumatic stress disorder, there're symptoms of flashbacks and nightmares, the personal voids, reminders of the traumatic event, and they seem on edge all the time. So, all those are indications that your family member really needs to seek treatment -- mostly because treatment is effective, and every patient can get better from these disturbing symptoms.

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