How can I help my parent who has general anxiety disorder and who experiences fluctuating levels of distress?

Doctor's Answers (1)

Dr Ng Beng Yeong

"Psychiatrist with over 20 years of experience"

Generalised Anxiety Disorder

People who have Generalised Anxiety Disorder, or GAD, worry uncontrollably about common occurrences and situations. A normal person may worry at times but a person with the disorder would worry uncontrollably about their problems several times per day for months on end. This can happen even when there isn’t a reason to worry. The person is often aware that there is no reason for them to worry but they cannot stop worrying.

Recently, I saw a case where the individual worries that all these worrying will harm his brain or make him go crazy - worry about worrying!

Sometimes, people with GAD just worry, but they are unable to say what they are worried about. They report feelings that something bad may happen. They tend to think of the worst-case scenario. This excessive, unrealistic worrying can interfere with relationships and daily activities.


How to Manage GAD

You can allow your parent to talk and ventilate, and allow them to share their worry and distress with you. After that, you can try to point out that they have the tendency to think about the worst-case scenario.

You can also try to distract them by going for walks with them and pursuing other activities like gardening. You can explore with them the evidence that supports that the situation is happening (e.g., that they are becoming poor) and the objective evidence that indicates otherwise.

People with anxiety tend to magnify the risk and problems ahead of them and minimise their own coping resources and ability. It will be good to obtain further help for your parent from a mental health professional.

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