Parenting with Anxiety Disorder: The challenges and ways to cope.

Baby Goes Retro

Anxiety Disorder

Depression and anxiety are some of the dormant but unacknowledged health problems of our society. Although numerous men and women are suffering from this condition, only a few people attempt to seek help. Then again, only a small percentage of these people actually get help. Sadly, many of us are living our entire lives battling the odds and difficulties of the world along with a constant torment in our head. Yes, anxiety has a negative effect on your own life, but the people around you suffer also, especially children.

Women have to deal with loads of trouble and it’s no news that many mothers have to raise children and deal with their anxiety side by side. So, what is it like to raise children with anxiety and are there any ways that mothers can actually use to help them? As a matter of fact, there are a number of ways that can help such mothers if not treat them. Here we introduce you to the different ways that women can use to cope with their daily anxiety problems and children along with a detailed view of what exactly they are dealing with.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is an ambiguous condition even in the 21st century. We are still not receptive to the fact that a person can malfunction and deteriorate simply under the burden of stress. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, in fact, the first step to dealing with this problem is admitting that you have it. So, what is anxiety? Well, for starters, it’s not a disease. Instead, it is a feeling of uneasiness, fear, and apprehension that result due to an unrealistic or realistic anticipation of the future, which in turn affects the physiological and physiological functioning of the body. Basically, it’s a state of fear in which a person is likely to over think of the future prospects and act unstable.

The Daily Struggles of a Mom with Anxiety

Clearly, there is a significant impact of anxiety on the usual dealings, especially of a parent. It can influence the way a parent interacts with his/her children and how they react. In many cases, parents could involuntarily be harming the bond between them and their children without realizing. Furthermore, children of anxious moms don’t have the relaxed, optimum environment. On the contrary, they grow up feeling that the world is a dangerous place and are likely to have social and relationship issues later in life. Even after addressing the issue, it can be very hard for parents solve a problem and manipulate their feelings to make things better. The road back is an uphill climb where you don’t just have to fix yourself, but also normalize your children and your home.

Wendy, a mom of two relates how difficult it is for her to deal with anxiety attacks and motherhood. She has had anxiety since she was 8 but doesn’t know what set off that panic attack. Still, she doesn’t know when the next attack will be or what will set it off. She relates how one afternoon, a sleepless night due to her toddler waking up, her periods, a Monday and then her son complaining of a headache set off her rain into a spiral of irrational thoughts. She accounts having thoughts like her son being too sick and on the verge of dying with a brain tumour. However, her attempt to pull herself together is important in this moment and she knows that. Wendy says that she makes herself realize and tells herself on repeat that these are irrational thoughts and worst case scenarios that will never happen.

Even after telling herself that it’s only her mind, Wendy says that she can’t stop her thoughts and starts succumbing to the relentless thoughts and panic. This usually evolves into a fear of being detected. “What if my son finds out that I’m so worried” she says.

It can be hard to manage, especially with the fear of passing these attacks on to your children. She says that although she can’t prevent the anxiety attacks, she has found a way to make the episodes less frequent and easier to tolerate. For her, meditation and exercise are key. Burning off the stress hormones in a blur of vigorous workouts help calm her nerves and divert her thoughts. She knows how hard it is to manage children and can aggravate to the point where she doesn’t know what to do with herself.

One way that she has found recently is to actually tell her children that she’s feeling anxious and needs to sit a bit. Contrary to what she thought, the method actually worked miracles. Having your own children’s little hands of kindness and words of comfort can work like magic and Wendy has experienced it. In the end, she says that it’s all about accepting. She believes that anxiety doesn’t make someone a bad parent, they just have to deal with it and manage at their best!

How to Deal with Anxiety?

There are millions of mom and dads, just like Wendy out there who are dealing with anxiety on a daily basis. Some have found a solution that worked for them, while others are still on the quest. However, you do need to consider certain ways that generally help people with anxiety. Every little bit counts and may help you reduce or even avoid these panic attacks completely. Here are some tips that might help you deal with your anxious mind.

Exercise, studies suggest that exercise has a significant effect in lowering anxiety and depression. Especially aerobic exercises are associated with a noticeable decline in the frequency and severity of anxiety attacks. Many people suggest that exercise helps them cope with an attack.

Meditation has been proven by many studies to show a noticeable decline in the level of anxiety. Meditation can range from yoga to progressive relaxation to transcendental meditation. All of the different means of meditation help by calming the brain and releasing serotonin, which is the happy neurotransmitter of our brain.

Learn the real risks and facts, many parents over think things and end up getting anxious about things that are highly unlikely to occur. Knowing the chance of something happening can help you soothe your nerves and assure yourself that your child is going to be fine. For instance, the fear of someone kidnapping your child is a prime concern among parents. However, knowing that out of 800,000 children who go missing, only 115 were actually victims to ‘stereotypical kidnapping’ can help you understand that the chance is pretty slim and non-existent with some primary safety measures.

Slow breathing exercises, it might seem fickle at first, but slow breathing when you know that an attack is likely to occur can help you relax your mind. Your shifts the logical centre back on and all the stress hormones are washed away to give you a somewhat better picture. Studies show a marked decline in the stress hormone of people who practice breathing exercises regularly.

Write pros and cons of overprotecting your child, anxiety can cloud your judgment, but once you write things down, it can give you a bigger picture. You will see for yourself what has more benefits and that can help you counteract the anxious parent within you.

Talk to your children, you may think that hiding your condition will help protect your child, but this is far from the truth. Not only will they be confused, but they will also be unknowingly exaggerating your problem. Have a sit down with your child, let them know you are feeling anxious and unwell and that you may need to rest a bit. Most children are compassionate and can understand. They might even help you recover by reassurance.

In short, every parent has an inherent instinct to protect their child. Sometimes, the anxiety can get you carried away with your duties. However, you need to remember that small things count and some kind words, a little rest, some exercise can help you recover from a gloomy episode. We don’t say that living with anxiety is easy, but it can be made much more tolerable by some help from your family and yourself.

Anxiety Free Child Program

References:
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Krisanaprakornkit, T., Sriraj, W., Piyavhatkul, N. and Laopaiboon, M. (2006). Meditation therapy for anxiety disorders. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Parenting. (2015). Don’t Panic: Advice for Moms with Anxiety Disorders. [online] Available at: http://www.parenting.com/parenting-advice/mom/dont-panic-advice-moms-anxiety-disorders.

Petruzzello, S., Landers, D., Hatfield, B., Kubitz, K. and Salazar, W. (1991). A Meta-Analysis on the Anxiety-Reducing Effects of Acute and Chronic Exercise. Sports Medicine, 11(3), pp.143-182.

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