My experience with anxiety started out slow. When I was a child I remember having separation anxiety at school. I just wanted my mom all the time and rarely felt okay when I wasn’t around her. I also suffered from a sleep disorder known as night terrors. All throughout high school and college I had moderate anxiety on a regular basis. There are numerous causes that could have ranged anywhere from hormone imbalance and toxic diet to nutrient deficiencies and chemical imbalances in the brain. For some people I believe it stems from your biochemistry, and only certain elements of it should be considered to be “all in your head.” It upsets me when people who don’t suffer from anxiety tell you that it’s all in your head and to get over it. Assuming that you fully understand something you have never experienced and putting on a facade that you would be able to brush off the most severe panic attack by simply getting over it because you’re just that strong mentally is uncalled for. Nobody is that mentally tough, and anxiety is different for everyone.
Most people don’t understand anxiety because unless you actually experience it yourself it’s hard to. Nobody asks to be anxious. None of us make a decision that we’re going to wake up every morning with butterflies in our chests and immediately go into a dark hopeless head space for no particular reason, and then spend the entire day worrying about things that could but most likely will never manifest. I find that most of the time I will feel anxious before I even think about anything that would trigger the anxiety, and then my brain tries to rationalize and think of a reason to accompany the anxiety. (If I’m going to feel an effect I would like to know the cause.) The best way to support someone struggling with generalized anxiety disorder, or anxiety in any form would be to educate yourself. Try to avoid telling us that everything is going to be okay because that doesn’t help as much as we wish it would, and we have already been unsuccessful in trying to convince ourselves of that. Understand as much of it as you can and do your best to just be there for the person when they need you. More often than not it is comforting to just have people around who understand that you’re struggling with something that even if they don’t see as being real, it’s real to you because you’re living it.