I’m Caring For Someone With Anxiety
Anxiety is what we feel when we are scared and think that something bad might happen. Some anxiety from time to time is normal. But for some people, anxiety can last for weeks or months and develop into a constant sense of dread.
When anxiety takes over a person’s everyday life, they may have an anxiety disorder, which can lead to restlessness, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, headache, fatigue and sleep disturbances. Anxiety can interrupt or even stop people from participating in a variety of activities such as attending school, working, socializing, athletic or recreational activities, being in relationships, and more.
Bursts of strong anxiety or fear are called panic attacks. If the person you are providing care for experiences panic attacks, it can be very intense and scary for you both. Their symptoms may include:
- An overwhelming sense of dread or fear
- Feeling like their heart is beating very quickly or loudly
- Feeling shaky, dizzy or faint
- Feeling like they cannot breathe
- Feeling like they need to escape or run away
- Feeling like they may be having a heart attack or dying
Seek professional help
Talk to a healthcare professional about treatment options, which may include medications and/or being referred to a mental health professional. A mental health professional can help your care recipient work through their thoughts, emotions, behaviours and triggers. To help the healthcare team determine the best treatment options, be sure to write down the symptoms and behaviours of the person you’re caring for.
Learn as much as you can
If you are able to, go to medical appointments with your care recipient, and bring a list of questions with you for their healthcare team. Research anxiety disorders, what to expect and ways to cope. Check out our tips for how to find credible information. You can also reach out to our 24/7 caregiver helpline at 1-833-416-2273 (CARE) for help accessing resources.
Help them practise relaxation techniques
Breathing exercises, meditation, guided imagery, yoga, tai chi and other relaxation techniques can help lower anxiety and stress levels. Various books and online videos are available, and you can also ask your care recipient’s healthcare team for recommended techniques and resources.
Regular exercise, eating well, getting enough sleep, spending time with friends and family, and limiting the use of alcohol and other drugs can help reduce anxiety in some people.
Your care recipient may benefit from joining a support group for people with anxiety disorders.
- Connect with Bounceback – a free skill-building program designed to help youth 15+ and adults manage symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Reach out to ConnexOntario for free health services information for people experiencing problems with mental illness, alcohol or drugs at connexontario.ca/en-ca/about-us or call 1-866-531-2600. This is available 24/7.
- Contact the Kids Help Phone – visit kidshelphone.ca, call 1-800-668-6868 or text 686868. This is available 24/7 and offers support through live chat, text, and phone.
- Connect with other young caregivers in our online peer support group or be part of the conversation in our online forum
Not sure where to start? Call our 24/7 helpline or talk to us in our live chat to find resources in your community.