How To Explain Your Feelings Of Anxiety To Family And Friends

If you feel anxious but aren’t sure why your first instinct may be to hide your feelings from your family and friends. You may find yourself wanting to put on a brave face to convince others, and yourself, that everything is "just fine.”

While you’re sure they would understand if you said you were nervous before public speaking or an exam, it's much more difficult to explain to others when your feelings of anxiety seemingly come out of the blue.

Still, just as you might share feelings of grief, loneliness, or frustration with those closest to you, sharing your struggles with anxiety can help you start on the path to recovery.

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We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Anxiety, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

Why anxiety is difficult to explain

It can be difficult to talk about your unsettling experiences with anxious feelings or symptoms because they can occur during the most seemingly benign moments.

You may have experienced feelings of panic as you stood in line at the grocery store — an activity that you've done countless times before without issue.

Or maybe you felt unusually tense and afraid as you did your usual nightly routine of checking the door and windows were locked, which led you to have difficulty falling asleep.

It's hard even for you to understand, let alone explain it to others who aren’t inside your head. Sometimes there is a pattern to your anxious episodes, but other times anxiety seems to rise from out of nowhere.

If you’re having trouble understanding the cause of your anxiety, you might assume your family and friends won't be able to understand your experience either. If you do open up to them, you might worry that they will tell you to "just get over it.”

You are not alone

Anxiety disorders or feelings of anxiety at "inappropriate" moments are more common than you might think. So much so that anxiety and its associated symptoms have their own official classifications, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder (PD), and several others.

More and more people are becoming aware of what it means to have experienced anxiety or a panic attack. The stigma associated with having anxiety isn't what it used to be, and you should never feel embarrassed or ashamed about the challenges you're facing with anxiety.

Symptoms of anxiety

Anxiety comes with a wide range of symptoms that vary from person to person. The National Institute of Mental Health lists an array of symptoms¹ for both panic attacks and generalized anxiety.

Generalized anxiety symptoms include:

  • Sleep difficulties (e.g., falling and/or staying asleep)

  • Feelings of worry that are difficult to control

  • Becoming easily irritated

  • Concentration difficulties

  • Unexplained fatigue and/or muscle tension

  • Feelings of anxiousness (i.e., feeling wound-up or on-edge)

Panic attack symptoms can be quite severe and debilitating. Initially, panic attack symptoms may appear to come out of the blue, although sometimes being in the same situation as when a panic attack first appeared can trigger another panic episode.

Panic attack symptoms can include:

Reaching out for support and understanding

If you're finding it difficult to reach out for support and understanding, just imagine if you had a loved one who was going through a difficult time. Just as you would reassure them of your love and support, it's ok to let a trusted friend or family member know that you are going through a difficult time.

If having a face-to-face conversation seems too intense, there are a number of other ways to communicate your struggles. Consider sharing your thoughts in a message, email, or handwritten letter. Let your family and friends know why you haven't seemed "like your old self" lately. Share some of the challenges you've been facing, whether it's experiencing panic attacks or being exhausted from lack of sleep.

People who genuinely care about you will want to help you, so don't be afraid to ask for specific ways in which they can show their support. Making yourself more vulnerable to the people who care about you may actually strengthen and deepen your relationships.

The lowdown

Never doubt that you are worthy enough to receive all the help and support you need to get on the path to recovery from anxiety. Along with receiving support from your family and friends, it's also ok to reach out to a trained mental health expert. The trained counselors and therapists in the professional mental health community already have in-depth knowledge about what you're going through, so you won't have to worry about explaining anxiety to them.

The right therapist can help you understand why you're experiencing anxiety and teach you how to recover so you can move forward with your life.

  1. Anxiety Disorders | NIH: National Institute of Mental Health

Have you considered clinical trials for Anxiety?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Anxiety, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

Joining community groups and exercise programs for my condition made me feel empowered – but I want to be part of finding a cure.
Peter, 64


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