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Calmness in the Family | Resolving the Red Flags of Anxiety

Calmness in the Family | Resolving the Red Flags of Anxiety


Anxiety is one of the most common and pervasive emotional conditions affecting both children and adults. It is often thought of and discussed about as a serious, medical condition that may affect a person on an individual basis. Many people, though, are not aware that anxiety can be experienced by an entire family together.

There can be a certain amount of anxiety in a lot of families, including the happiest ones. Like a container, a family can only hold so much anxiety. If nothing much is happening, or the family has less to muddle through, then the anxiety level can be mild and considered usual. Some amount of worry or stress may not be enough to fill the brim.

When the family container, however, can no longer hold the stress happening, then anxiety overflows into each member of the family. One may end up with too much of the disorder, or someone in the family may become physically ill. If the level of family anxiety is high enough, it will spill on a member or even the entire family.


Understanding the Two Types of Family Anxiety


  • Family-Wide Anxiety: This simply means that the excessive and disabling discomfort permeates through the whole family. All members are anxious about the same thing, yet the feelings and manners how each person expresses anxiety can be different. Family anxiety is usually caused by an event, experience or time that occurred in the family, which may include divorce, illness, death, adoption, or a new birth.


A family may experience anxiety altogether when moving to a new location. Moving may turn out to be stressful for members, bringing about a lot of questions for them. For example, children may wonder who their new friends will be, while adults may be frazzled by the commute from home to work and back. Although some moves may not necessarily bring jitters to the entire family, some can if a lot of changes are involved, such as financial shifts and social support. Family-wide anxiety can be felt more if no one is providing leadership in addressing the negative feelings within the family.


  • Individual Anxiety: Apart from the fact that anxiety may run in the family, the condition can be triggered by some environmental risk factors, including a traumatic life event and family relationships. When anxiety is felt between two family members it can affect the entire home. It can particularly occur when the family cannot separate the anxiety felt by one member of the whole unit, causing a ripple effect on the entire family system. An example would be when a mother starts dating again after a divorce. Her nervousness to get into a new relationship may be sensed by the children, leading to her feeling more anxious.


When Anxiety Resides at Home

 Based on studies, parents and children can affect each other’s anxiety tendencies, especially those living in the same house. Just by observing the parents and hearing their anxious words contribute to the anxious behavior in children. A parent who is prone to anxiety may manifest the symptom through “parental control” by giving directives, which the child may view as intrusive. A parent who is a chronic worrier tends to catastrophize events and interprets them as potential threats. This fear can impel the parent to restrict the child from engaging in certain age-appropriate activities just to ensure safety.

Family anxiety is a sneaky phenomenon. It may originate from an anxiety exchange between the parents and trickle down to the children, moving from one person to another in the family. Sometimes, instead of disturbing the whole household, anxiety may settle in one member, often a child. If not addressed early, the affected member may continue to act out without the others realizing the reaction is an expression of anxiety coming from the collective unit. It often turns out that anxious parents breed anxious children. Inversely, a child’s anxiety exacerbates a parent’s anxiety, creating a debilitating and chaotic cycle of family anxiety.

Keep in mind that the family is an emotional unit by nature. By noting how anxiety is affecting the members, whether family-wide or individually, it is important to acknowledge and address the situation. If ignored, anxiety will likely permeate the entire home and further impair the member from whom the anxiety originated. No matter how caring parents can be, avoiding the issue is like planting the seeds of anxiety in children. The family may begin to view the world in a fearful manner.

A family beset by anxiety often engages in avoidance behaviors. This means shying away from taking risks, including the beneficially healthy and developmentally age-appropriate ones. When anxiety cycles through the family, adult and young members are not able to leave their comfort zones and push their limits outside their boundaries. A mild dose of anxiety is expected, but when its effects snowball and become difficult, receiving counseling to help restore calmness in the family may be beneficial.


Impact of Anxiety in the Family

Anxiety can affect the family in a variety of ways. The symptoms one member may experience – irritability, poor sleep and appetite, tension, etc. – can have an impact on the interpersonal relationships within the family and affect the ability to perform daily routines. Anxiety is like a virus that can spread to the family without the members realizing it is damaging their home life.

The disorder is often comorbid with other serious emotional health issues, such as depression and substance abuse. When anxiety affects a member or the family, the risk of having other disorders is tremendously high, posing a serious impact on both relationships and functioning.


Resolve Anxiety in the Family with Counseling

 When one or more family members struggle with anxiety, the entire unit struggles as well. As a parent, you may feel guilty and think you have failed in your role. If you are not blaming yourself, you may be blaming your spouse, your mother-in-law, or something or someone else.

If the cycle of anxiety is happening in your family, pondering the possible causes is counterproductive during this time of great stress. This is an important time to consider what action to take. Often, it takes someone in the family to lead and come forward to address the issue. After all, anxiety is a family affair. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to act now to stop the cycle and change the course of your family.

Sometimes, however, the leadership role may be difficult to assume due to anxiety itself. It may take therapy to allow you to experience the 10 best things family counseling does to help you foster calmness in the family, whether it is family-wide or individual anxiety, permeating your home. The good news is that both types of anxiety can be relieved if the family addresses and resolves the condition together with the right fit professional independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – Sanford, NC.

The best way to regain calmness in your family can be to seek an effectively designed treatment plan to resolve the red flags of anxiety. Call CCS – Sanford, NC now to request an appointment!

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Sanford, NC

Counties: Chatham, Harnett, Lee and Moore County, NC

Areas: Sanford NC, Tramway, NC, Olivia, NC, Broadway, NC, Cumnock, NC, Gulf, NC, Goldston, NC, Carbonton NC, Glendon, NC, Carthage, NC, Cameron, NC, Lillington, NC, Moncure, NC

Zip Codes: 27330, 27332, 28327, 27505, 27546

Rose Thomas, MA, LPC, LCAS, NCC

Specializes in: (Ages 5+) Children, Teens, Individuals, Couples and Families. Anxiety, Depression, ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder, ADHD, Relationship Issues, Marriage Counseling, Parenting, PTSD/Trauma Recovery, Acute Stress Disorder, Adult Sexual Abuse Survivors, Adjustment Disorders, Depressive Disorders, Persistent Depressive Disorder, Bipolar and Related Disorders, Self-injurious/Self-Harm, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Separation Anxiety, Disruptive Disorders, Conduct Disorder, Marital Conflict and Discord, LGBT, Substance Use Disorders
 Insurance: BCBS, Tricare,/Tricare Prime, Select, Extra, Retired, Cash, HSA and FSA accepted (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

Fetima Wellington, MS, LPC, LCAS-A

Specializes in: (Ages 6+) Children, Adolescents/Teens, Individuals, Couples, Family Therapy and Marriage Counseling. Anxiety, Depression, Bi-Polar Disorder, Addiction and Recovery, Relationship Issues, Post Partum Depression, Family Conflict, Crisis Intervention, ODD, Conduct Disorder, LGBTQ
 Insurance: BCBS,  Cash, HSA and FSA (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

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Carolina Counseling Services - Sanford, NC
304 N Horner Boulevard
Sanford, NC 27330