When a friend or family member experiences anxiety, their thoughts and emotions can affect their day-to-day interactions. Though everyone worries or feels anxious about stressful situations, anxiety as a condition can seem irrational to others. As such, knowing how to help someone with anxiety might be confusing.
Watching someone you love deal with anxious thoughts and emotions daily isn’t easy. Fortunately, you can learn to help them with these tips.
Anxiety disorder is a mental health condition involving excessive worries and fears about everyday life. Though everyone experiences anxiety due to life’s pressures, people with an anxiety disorder have persistent fears and sudden feelings of intense apprehension, sometimes without apparent stressors.
1. Avoid Making Assumptions
It’s easy to assume everyone with anxiety will have the same behaviours, symptoms, and needs. However, to properly support a loved one dealing with the condition, it’s important to educate yourself instead of making assumptions. Everyone’s experiences are different, so you can’t compare one person to another.
2. Learn How Anxiety Can Manifest in People
Anxiety symptoms can vary from person to person. As you learn how to help someone with anxiety, remember that symptoms can be physical, mental, or behavioural. Some people may freeze when scared and try to avoid potential problems, while others get panicked or irritable when stressed.
Common manifestations of anxiety may include:
3. Validate Anxious People
Supporting someone with anxiety doesn’t always involve quick solutions. One moment your loved one might need your help to do something. Another time, they might want you to talk with them and hear their concerns.
Always ask your friend or family member if they need a fix or a chat. Validating their feelings and needs can be more impactful than trying to fix them or their current situation.
4. Don’t Push Too Hard
Good intentions aren’t always helpful. For example, you could intend to help your loved one overcome avoidance problems by putting them in stressful situations, but that could worsen their anxiety.
It’s best not to confuse being supportive with being forceful. Show support by helping them do things for themselves without enabling them.
5. Know When to Get Professional Help
If your loved one’s anxiety begins negatively affecting their life or creating problems at home, encourage them to pursue professional help. Cognitive behavioural therapy can help with anxiety, using special techniques to stop negative thought cycles.
Knowing how to help someone with anxiety can feel overwhelming, but Bayridge Counselling Centres is here to help. Our network consists of ten locations in Ontario and Alberta with over 50 registered psychotherapists, psychologists, and social workers who provide guidance and support for various life issues. We have over 20 years of experience helping people manage or overcome grief, anxiety, trauma, anger issues, toxic relationships, and more.
Call (905) 319-1488 to speak with a client care specialist from Bayridge Counselling Centres today. We offer online counselling sessions with experienced therapists who can help you work through life’s challenges.