If you're close with your mom, then you know how great it can be to have another woman in your life who "gets" you, helps you, and wants the best for you. Always. But there's no denying that whole mother-daughter thing can be fraught with tension. This is especially true if your mom has an anxiety disorder, since mental illness has a way of adding to these issues — as well as creating issues of its own.
Apart from being able to help your mom, figuring out whether or not she has an anxiety disorder can explain so much about your relationship with each other. And your relationship with yourself. If you two get on each other's nerves, for example, this may be why. And if you also have anxiety disorder? Well, this may be your explanation.
"While the jury is still out on whether this is nature or nurture or a combination of both, many daughters who have moms with anxiety problems also struggle with anxiety as well," Jennifer L. FitzPatrick, LCSW-C, author of Cruising Through Caregiving: Reducing The Stress of Caring for Your Loved One, tells Bustle.
What's worse is your anxieties can play off each other, creating even more tension. "When both the mom and daughter struggle with anxiety, there is more opportunity for both to encourage distorted thinking, obsessive thoughts, and excessive worry." If this sounds familiar, it may be worth looking into for the sake of everyone's health. Read on for some signs your mom might have an anxiety disorder.
1. She Talks About Feeling "Nervous" Or "Worried"
Thanks to better mental health education, us millennials all seem to know what "anxiety" means. But that isn't always the case for older generations. "Particularly for Baby Boomer age or older, women often describe anxiety disorder symptoms as 'nerves' or 'worried,'" says FitzPatrick. Does this sound like something your mom would say? If so, she may indeed have an anxiety problem.
2. She Complains Often About Not Feeling Well
Anxiety can truly take a toll on your physical health, so pay attention to any complaints from your mama. As FitzPatrick tells me, she might complain about headaches, upset stomachs, or appear to be flushed or shaky. These are often signs of anxiety.
3. She Relies On Your For Help With Simple Things
While it's normal for family members to help each other out, take note if your mom seems to truly rely on you. "If a daughter has grown up with a mother who is agoraphobic, for example, perhaps the daughter has historically done all the errands, grocery shopping, etc," FitzPatrick says. "This pattern can continue into adulthood and create a very unhealthy dependence."
4. Your Mom Asks A Lot Of "What If" Questions
Is your mom famous for her "what if" questions? If so, it may point to issues with anxiety, which can cause a strain on your relationship. That's because, as Chicago-based psychologist Dave Carbonell, PhD tells me, there are no good answers to these types of questions. They only lead to feelings of frustration.
5. She Texts You Way Too Often To "Check In"
Anxiety makes it difficult to turn off your worry, so take it as a sign if your mom can't seem to stop checking in. As Carbonell tells me, she might be doing this to assure herself that you're OK, and that's sweet. But the constant nagging can lead to feelings of resentment.
6. She's Constantly Beating Herself Up
If your mom seems mired in self-pity, it may be time for her to seek therapy. "Anxiety often causes the individual to ruminate on specific thoughts and dwell in negativity," NYC-based therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW tells Bustle. This constant "woah is me" attitude won't be fun for her, or for you.
7. Your Mom Seems To Think You'll Get Into Trouble
If your mom is always expecting the worst from you, it could very well be anxiety-driven, Chicago-based clinical therapist Lynn R. Zakeri, LCSW tells me. "It can impact her daughter because if she does not know where it is coming from, it leads to perfectionist behavior and/or a not-good-enough mentality." Sound familiar?
8. You're Always Calling Her For Advice
After years of constant attention and clinginess from your mom, psychotherapist Autumn Collier, LCSW tells me you might grow to need her input for everything and anything. This is what's known as codependency, and it can leave you feeling unprepared to make your own decisions.
9. She's Won't Stop Asking About Grandkids
It's pretty normal for parents to ask about grandkids and weddings and whatnot, but it shouldn't be your mom's only concern. "People with an anxiety disorder spend a lot of their time wondering about the hypotheticals of the future," clinical psychologist Dr. Helen Odessky tells Bustle. "So if your mother talks to you more about the future than the present, she may have an anxiety disorder."
10. Her Favorite Phrase Is "Be Careful"
Of course it's a parent's job to worry about their kids, but your mom likely takes it to the extreme. "She cautions you a lot about various life situations, to the point her favorite words are 'be careful,'" Odessky says. "People with anxiety disorders begin to see life as risky, so if your mother sees danger everywhere, she may have an anxiety disorder."
11. You've Developed Anxiety, Too
Dealing with your mom's anxiety and codependency and negativity can truly take a toll on your relationship, and your mental health. It can even lead to your own anxiety disorder, as NYC-based relationship therapist Laurel Steinberg, PhD tells me. This is all thanks to poor modeling (or parenting styles), as well as your fear of contributing to your mom's worry.
If any of this sounds familiar, it may very well mean your mom has an anxiety disorder. If she does, it has probably impacted your relationship with her, as well as your own mental health. Don't be afraid to seek out therapy for yourself, and steer your mom in that direction, too.
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