Anxiety is a mental health disorder marked by feelings of fear or worry that are strong enough to interfere with a person’s daily life. People experience anxiety at different times of their lives, and some suffer more than others, so it can be tough to diagnose.
If you have a friend or family member who suffers from anxiety, you may have found yourself struggling to help them in a meaningful way. Here are ten tips that may help:
- Have patience when your loved one is struggling with anxious emotions. You may not understand why they are feeling like they are, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a legitimate condition.
- Don’t try to justify or undermine their feelings. If your loved one is feeling particularly anxious, trying to tell them that their feelings are normal is not going to help, nor is trying to combat those feelings.
- Understand that your loved one has certain triggers that spark their anxiety, and try to help them avoid those triggers if you can.
- Expect some days to be better than others. Some people who suffer from anxiety go days or even weeks without an anxiety attack, while others have at least one per day. Don’t attempt to figure out their “schedule” or make comments about the frequency of their attacks.
- Respect their decisions regarding medicine and professional help. Some people who suffer from anxiety choose to go on medication to help ease their symptoms, but others do not. Assume that your loved one has talked to their doctor and figured out a plan that’s right for them, whatever that plan may be.
- When your loved one suffers an anxiety attack, be as supportive as you can. They may need you to talk them through it, or they might want some alone time. Respect their wishes while letting them know you are there for them.
- Don’t compare their behavior with someone else’s actions. If you know several people with anxiety, they more than likely have different triggers, symptoms and coping mechanisms. Assuming they are all dealing with the same issues is a disservice to your loved one.
- Keep them in mind during particularly difficult times. If you know they’re stressed over school or work or dealing with a tough breakup, go out of your way to show them that you care. Send a card, take them out for a fun night on the town or cook them their favorite meal.
- Find a balance between talking and listening during an anxiety attack. Listen to anything they’re willing to talk about, and ask questions that might calm them down or help them through whatever emotions they’re feeling. However, if your loved one prefers not to talk, don’t force a conversation onto them.
- Do all the research you can about anxiety. Knowing more about it will help you understand your loved one’s struggle and may help you handle it more effectively.
If you’re still confused about how to help your loved one with anxiety, simply ask them! As long as you frame your questions in the right way, they shouldn’t mind letting you know about their emotions and how you can best support them.