How to Support Someone Who Is Anxious
We all occasionally worry and experience fear. However, those who suffer from anxiety may feel paralyzed by fears that other people may find absurd.
Many individuals are unsure of the best ways to assist someone who is experiencing anxiety because it can be challenging to relate to these worries.
A pediatric psychologist at Johns Hopkins Medicine, Joseph McGuire, Ph.D., claims that “people are frequently dismissive of people experiencing anxiety.” Physical symptoms may be present with different medical conditions.
With anxiety, though, you may not always be able to tell what the person is going through. Therefore, even though it seems strange to you, it’s crucial to be understanding of what someone who suffers from anxiety is going through.
Although it’s upsetting to see a loved one deal with anxiety and panic attacks on a daily basis, there are things you can do to support them.
Start by identifying the warning signals of excessive worry and learning the best support strategies for your loved one.
Understand the Symptoms of Anxiety
With up to 18% of the population affected, anxiety disorder is the most prevalent mental health disease in the US. Knowing the symptoms of anxiety might help you identify when a loved one is experiencing frightened sensations or thoughts.
Although individual symptoms vary, they can be divided into three groups:
Your loved one might describe experiencing a variety of physical symptoms, including:
- Being on edge or restless
- Breathing difficulty
- Easily becoming exhausted
People who experience anxiety frequently have mental patterns like:
- Thinking that the worst will occur
- Perpetual anxiety
- All-or-nothing perspective
- Overgeneralizing (making overall assumptions based on a particular occurrence) (making overall assumptions based on a single event)
The behaviors of your loved one may be what you notice the most. Common signs of anxiousness include:
- Avoiding threatening circumstances or events
- In search of assurance
- Anger and anger in feared circumstances
- Obsessive behaviors (like washing hands over and over)
Knowing what to avoid
Common reactions to an anxious person are frequently ineffective. the following actions ought to be avoided:
It’s normal to want to take extra precautions to put your loved one in an unpleasant position to assist them avoid it. This appears to be incredibly considerate and sweet, says McGuire.
But anxiety typically persists. If people postpone confronting challenging situations over time, their anxiety will increase and their need for specific accommodations will increase.
If you keep altering your actions or the surrounding circumstances to accommodate your loved one’s concern, this may unintentionally allow the anxiety to endure and worsen. Avoiding challenging situations prevents your loved one from facing their anxieties and developing coping mechanisms for anxiety.
Instead, it makes their world smaller as their abilities are increasingly constrained by their mounting worry.
Don’t Provoke Conflict
On the other side, forcing someone to do something they’re afraid of is also bad. According to McGuire, “trying to push somebody who’s not ready might ruin that relationship.”
It is better to concentrate on overcoming intense anxiety in collaboration with a trained therapist. This relieves you of your load.
It also gives your loved one more confidence by assisting them in overcoming their worries one step at a time with assistance from a knowledgeable person.
Use effective anxiety tips
The key to assisting someone with anxiety is to respond with love, acceptance, and a desire to see your loved one feel better. Think about the following strategies:
Present evidence of
People can become nervous about many different topics. It is demeaning to say something like, “I can’t believe you’re getting upset about such a tiny issue.” Ask your loved one how you can support them during difficult times instead.
According to McGuire, something that makes one person nervous might not bother another individual at all. “It’s crucial to recognize that what the individual is experiencing is real and calls for respect. Their fear doesn’t have to make sense to you.”
Seeing a loved one experience an anxiety attack is difficult, according to McGuire. However, there isn’t much you can do right away to reduce a panic attack’s duration or intensity noticeably.
You don’t have to hide your concern when you start to see your loved one stop participating in things they used to like. Instead, it could be beneficial to speak to your loved one in a friendly and upbeat manner, advises McGuire.
“You can start a conversation by mentioning that you’ve seen certain behavioral changes.”
For instance, Hey, I observed that you haven’t been going to [insert venue] and other social events. Could you please explain the change’s origin? Afterward, depending on how the discussion goes, you might inquire as to if they feel they require assistance or support in managing their anxiety.
Know When to Get Assistance
It’s time to get professional assistance if your loved one’s anxiety starts to interfere with their ability to enjoy life, interact with others at work, school, or other social gatherings, or if it starts to cause issues at home.
Remind a loved one to schedule a consultation with a mental health professional. If they’re unwilling, you can reassure them that there will only be one appointment, advises McGuire.
It doesn’t imply that they must commit to care or to seeing that particular therapist. Actually, it’s only a preliminary check-in, similar to a yearly physical examination for your mental and emotional well-being.
Options for Treating Patients with Anxiety
Two main therapies are available for those who suffer from anxiety:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which teaches patients how to cope with stressful events and reduce anxiety.
- Antidepressant medication management, which is effective on its own but even more so when combined with CBT.
Continue to offer your support while in therapy by:
- Enquiring about what you can do to assist your loved one.
- Asking if you can join a therapy session to gain knowledge of how to support them more effectively.
- Making time for your own interests and life to keep your energy up.
- Encouraging your loved one to seek treatment from a different therapist if the first doesn’t work out.
Early treatment is ideal, according to McGuire, if you are worried about a loved one’s anxiety. It can be more difficult to recover from anxiety or any other mental or physical health condition if you wait too long to get help.