Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health conditions in the United States. An estimated 40 million American adults suffer from an anxiety disorder, and many more experience symptoms of one.
Anxiety is a normal human emotion that’s triggered by real or perceived threats. It can also be caused by environmental factors such as a stressful job or relationship issues. Anxiety can be treated with medications, therapies and lifestyle changes.
Here’s how to engage patients with anxiety so they don’t become “difficult” patients:
Interventions For Anxiety Nursing
1 Observe and Report
- Be observant. Watch how the patient is feeling, what they’re doing and their behaviors. Are they responding well? Is their anxiety too high? Are they having trouble breathing? These are all things to watch out for when observing your patient’s anxiety levels.
- Report this information as soon as possible to a member of the health care team.
2 Keep Yourself Grounded
As a nurse, it is important to keep yourself grounded. The first thing you can do is use your own experiences to relate to the patient’s situation. For example, if a patient tells you that they’re worried about losing their job and they want to know what the best way is for them to handle this situation, you can speak from personal experience by saying “I’ve been in similar situations before and I know how frightening it can be.” By relating with empathy and non-judgmental statements such as this one, you will be able to create a strong bond with your patient which will prevent them from feeling like they’re talking with an outsider who doesn’t understand their problems or concerns.
Another way of keeping yourself grounded is by being available at all times for any questions or concerns patients may have about their health issues. This shows that not only do we care but we also want our patients’ anxiety levels down so there are no further complications during recovery time periods! We should also remember that honesty goes along way when dealing with those who have high levels of anxiety because there will always be challenges involved but these challenges won’t get easier unless ones takes on challenges head first rather than running away from them every time something scares us.”
3 Medications and Therapies
Medication is a common treatment for anxiety. Some of the medications used to treat anxiety disorders include benzodiazepines, beta-blockers and anti-depressants. Benzodiazepines are fast-acting but addictive. Beta blockers are used in conjunction with other drugs because they can make you sleepy if taken alone, but they can also reduce the symptoms of anxiety as well as improve performance on tests, exams or interviews if you take them before any stressful event occurs. Anti-depressants have many side effects including stomach upset, dry mouth and headaches; this may be something you would want to consider when choosing which medication works best for your needs.*
Therapy can help an individual understand why they experience certain feelings in different situations, how those feelings affect their behavior and what they can do differently next time.* There are several kinds of therapy that might be useful for individuals who suffer from an anxiety disorder: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), acceptance commitment therapy (ACT) and mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR).
4 Prepare (and Practice) Questions to Ask Patients and Families
Before you ask questions, it’s important to prepare. You want the conversation to flow naturally, so it’s best to think through and write out your questions ahead of time.
- Open-ended questions are good for beginning conversations because they give the patient room to share their thoughts and feelings. For example: “How do you feel about this?” or “What is something that has been hard for you?” These kinds of questions can be used later in the conversation as well; for instance: “Tell me more about what was going on at home when this first started happening,” or “Tell me about your relationship with your partner before all these problems started happening between the two of you.”
- Questions that help patients express their own experience are helpful because they allow patients and families to feel heard while providing insight into what might be causing anxiety in a given situation. For example: “What are some things that make it hard for people around here?” Or “Why do people here seem uncomfortable talking about suicide?” And finally, “Is there anything I can tell my friend so he knows how much support we have from each other?”
5 Maintain Eye Contact
- Eye contact is a sign of respect. It indicates you are paying attention to the patient and that they believe you are interested in what they are saying.
- Eye contact can help you understand the patient’s mood. A person with anxiety may avoid eye contact because they’re worried about how their face might look when feeling anxious. This can lead them to feel like they’re “being judged” or “looking weak”. It may also be helpful for them to know that you don’t mind if they look away while speaking; this reassures them that any thoughts or emotions expressed during their speech won’t be taken personally by you (or anyone else listening).
- Eye contact helps us understand people better by allowing us access into another person’s thoughts and emotions without words being spoken aloud. It’s important for nurses practicing in any setting (acute care hospitals, long-term care facilities) because it helps build trust between nurses and patients which increases compliance with medical orders/prescriptions given by doctors (to name just one benefit).
6 Anxious patients may seem difficult, but with the right care they can become some of the most inspiring people you’ve ever met.
Just like any patient, anxious patients can be difficult. However, with the right care they can become some of the most inspiring people you’ve ever met.
Here are some tips on how to help your anxious patients:
- Ask them what they need from you. This will make them feel heard and understood and less likely to feel frustrated or angry.
- Don’t assume that all anxious patients need medication. Some may benefit from therapy or other forms of support such as a self-help group or meditation practice (or both!). Let your patient know that there are other options available if medication isn’t working for them and encourage them to try out different approaches until they find one that helps them feel better in the long run—it might not happen overnight but it’s worth it!
If you’re looking to overcome your anxiety, you’ll want to start by looking inward. You can’t change other people, but you can change yourself. Once you’ve done that, it becomes easier to see the anxiety in others with empathy and understanding rather than judgment or frustration. If someone is anxious in front of you, try not to take it personally—they may just need some help getting through their day.