According to a recent WebMD article, panic and anxiety disorders affect up to 2.4 million Americans, and women are twice as likely than men to have panic attacks.  In the past two months we are dealing with so much more than the past two years learning to live with Covid and finding toilet paper… we have inflation, rising gas prices, and the conflict in the Ukraine.  How do you deal with all stress in your life? How do you handle it when it becomes debilitating to you or to the ones you love? I venture that everyone has someone they know with an anxiety disorder. And why, specifically, are women more at risk for panic attacks? Even in todays progressive world, the women I know are Super Women. They take care of their families and homes while balancing careers and schedules. They feel deeply and very often are trying to manage the entire “big picture” of their lives and not just incremental bits. It can be so overwhelming at times, no wonder panic attacks are on the rise. 

My daughter and I just recently spent a week helping a young military couple move. She is a 100% disabled veteran (at 28 years old), and he is active duty undergoing cancer treatment. When someone’s disability is not physically obvious, it’s hard to understand why they can’t do “normal” things. Basic self maintenance is a struggle, and then add in indifferent family, pets with medical needs, a new job, graduate school exams, a new marriage, major medical issues, and a transatlantic plus cross country move, and it’s enough to make anyone want to hide under the covers. We packed and cleaned, shopped, cooked, took care of the pets, and helped in every way we could think. When all was said and done, things went smoothly, everything was taken care of, and we know our efforts were appreciated. 

Every person is wired differently—it’s not just our fingerprints that make us unique, that’s why we like or dislike different things, and it gives our life variety and interest. How boring life would be if we were all exactly the same. When you have someone in your life that suffers from debilitating anxiety, you can’t expect them to handle everything the way you would. Just because you don’t have the same take on what feels stressful to someone else, doesn’t mean it isn’t the roadblock they feel it is. Many people take medications and seek professional help for their anxiety, but many others can’t even summon up the ability to find that help. When you run into someone who you know suffers from anxiety (or even if you don’t know they suffer from it), use kind words, encouragement, pray with them and for them, and show unconditional love. These are the things that help and give hope, and it costs nothing. We’ve all seen the signs and memes: In a world where you can be anything, Be Kind. 

Anxiety weighs down the heart,  yet a kind word cheers it up. Proverbs 12:25