How Can You Help Someone With Anxiety?

We Don’t Always Know How to Ask For Help

Helping someone with anxiety can be difficult, especially if you haven’t experienced the dreaded illness yourself.  If your friend or loved one has let you in, close enough to share their illness, you must be a very special person to them.  Society has taught us with anxiety to feel ashamed of our illness, and we fear what others might think about us if we open up and reveal who we really are.  Very sad, but true.  We need support, but don’t always know how to ask for it. This makes it extremely tough for those that want to help us, but just don’t understand how. Below are some helpful tips, from an expert on anxiety,  on how to help those you know with this illness that has such a negative stigma.

  1. Show Them You Care – Learn About Their Illness! – There is nothing that would show us you care more than to know you took the time to learn about anxiety.  Knowing the causes, symptoms, and how to help us through difficult times is the absolute #1 thing you can do.  If you understand what we are experiencing is a normal part of our illness , we will be more reassured.  If you know what the symptoms are, you will be able to help us through attacks of severe anxiety.  All we need is for someone to tell us that what we are feeling is a normal part of our anxiety, and that we will be okay.
  2. Stay Calm! – We will do all the worrying, you just need to stay calm and reassure us that we will be okay. If I am feeling like my chest is tightening up and I am having trouble getting air, the situation could go one of two ways.  During an anxiety attack, I am very aware of my surroundings.  You can bet I am watching how you are reacting to my attack.  I might feel like I am going to suffocate to death.  If I see you panic, then that will reassure me that I am in bad shape, and a trip to the ER is eminent.  On the other hand, if you calmly rub my back, tell me I am okay, and that it is just a symptom of my anxiety, I will eventually calm down and be okay.
  3. Be Patient – Please be patient with us.  It may be obvious that we are being irrational, but it is so real to us.  We will be worrying that you are going to get tired of dealing with our illness and we will pick up on any frustration you may show.  Anxiety sometimes makes us irritable, unsocial, and insecure.  Just realize that we are trying our best and knowing you understand, and are patient with us, takes a lot of weight off our shoulders.
  4. Be Encouraging – Anxiety can talk us into believing we can’t accomplish anything.  It may even force us to stay home for days.  Encouraging us to get out of the house, even if it is just going on a drive together, will build confidence.  The more confident we get, the sooner we will realize we really are okay.  It might take a little push to get us going, but it is what we need.
  5. Show a Little Extra Affection – Anxiety can makes us insecure.  I have often wondered why certain people put up with me.  I sometimes feel guilty that I am a pain in the ass.  Show us a little extra affection to reassure us that you love us unconditionally.