When a friend or loved one suffers from anxiety, it can be intimidating or frustrating trying to help them cope. Panic and anxiety attacks can leave the anxiety sufferer feeling any number of symptoms. You may feel helpless and unable to support them. Here are some tips on how to help your loved ones with anxiety.
Let your loved one know that you’re there to listen. Hold back judgment or unwanted advice, and simply be an ear. It will help them to know that they can speak openly and be repetitive with fears or thoughts. Let them know that they can call or text you any time to talk.
Don’t Bring It Up Too Often
It might seem counterintuitive to avoid the topic, but simply talking about anxiety may be triggering for some. Ask how they’re doing, discuss their anxiety if they wish, but let them bring it up.
Spending time with a close friend or loved one can be very beneficial for the anxiety sufferer. Exercise and outdoor activities are especially helpful; sunlight and exercise are well-documented mood boosters. If you’re both being entertained, are out having fun, or just hanging out talking over coffee, this meaningful distraction keeps their mind off of their anxiety and on the activity.
You may struggle to empathize with your friend or loved one, or you may have difficulty comprehending what it means to suffer with anxiety. Anxiety disorders are not just psychological, they’re also chemical. Your loved one may understand that it’s not logical for them to feel fear or anxiety about something, but you can’t expect them to control their anxiety with that same knowledge. It will take time and a concerted effort on their part, but anxiety is a treatable condition.
Make an effort to express pride in your loved one when you notice improvements. Acknowledgment of positive change after they have put in some hard work will be both beneficial and encouraging to their recovery.
We are here to help you in your journey with anxiety, feel free to reach out to learn more about anxiety therapy and how it can help you.
About the author(s)
Karen is the founder and Clinical Director of Cohesive Therapy NYC. She earned a Masters in Social Work from New York University and has extensive training in Hypnosis, Anxiety, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Brainspotting, and DGBI. She is a member of the Institute of Certified Anxiety Treatment Professionals, The Rome Foundation, the National Association of Social Workers, The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, and the American Social of Clinical Hypnosis.