Anxiety has many faces. When one is experiencing anxiety, it can range from mild to moderate to severe. When someone is experiencing mild anxiety it may be difficult for us to recognize. They may present as relaxed, calm, attentive, and be able to focus and concentrate despite their anxiety.
Often when performing duties or going through the activities of daily living, the performance can appear quite automatic without having to give it much thought. Often these signs and symptoms are overlooked because a person has learned to function despite their anxiety.
Once the anxiety reaches moderate levels one may appear uncomfortable or tense or even viewed as excitable. At this stage, the heartbeat might start to beat faster and their overall vital signs are becoming elevated.
In the final stages of anxiety, this is where the anxiety is so severe that it’s visible to others around them. Often a person becomes very tense making it difficult to relax. They become very rigid, hearing and pain sensation decreases, and their perceptual field becomes greatly narrowed. It’s really important in this stage to be clear and precise with individuals going through anxiety for their problem-solving and logical thinking is compromised. Also the world around them they may perceive as threatening and it can be very scary.
Some of the things that can be helpful in supporting someone going through anxiety is to stay calm, offer choices but not too many for it may be difficult to make decisions for the person. Offering clear concise directions can be very beneficial as well.
Empathizing with the person going through anxiety can be one of the greatest gifts you can give them!