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How Do I Help Someone With Anxiety

What Not To Say To Someone With Anxiety

How to Help Someone With Depression or Anxiety

There are things you should try and avoid saying too. In general, try not to minimise how someone feels or dismiss what they’re saying as an overreaction. Don’t say things like:

  • Try not to think about it
  • I get anxious sometimes too
  • Maybe you’re just an anxious person
  • You’ve got nothing to be anxious about

Help Them Reframe Their Anxious Thoughts

Often people with anxiety tend toward catastrophic thinking, making assumptions that the worst-case scenario will happen. It is always possible that the worst could happen however, its also important to consider alternatives. Whats the best case scenario? Whats the likely scenario or the most realistic scenario?

Its important for the anxious person to feel prepared for the possibility of the worst-case scenario, but it is not helpful to ruminate or become excessively preoccupied. Instead, help them discover their inner strengths and external resources that will help them deal with lifes curveballs.7

When To Help Someone Seek Help

Even if youre the most generous and helpful friend of all time, your loved one might also need support from a pro.

According to Lyons, its time to seek professional help when their anxiety is impacting their functioning or they have a desire to better understand their anxiety and how to respond to it.

However, even if *you* think your friend needs help, its really up to them.

You cant force someone to get help if they dont want it, Lyons says. The most you can do is let them know youre here when theyre ready.

If youve gone to therapy or have received help for your mental health, consider talking about your positive experience with it. Just try not to be pushy.

If they do agree to get help, consider offering further support by:

  • Direct them to resources. You can give them the deets on online therapy or help them track down a therapist in their area.
  • Help them get to their appointments. If youre up for it, offer to drive them to their sessions. Or, invite them out for coffee after if they want to talk with you about it.
  • Support yourself. Devote time to self-care so you can show up as your best self for you as well as your loved ones.

Anxiety disorders may seem to be everywhere these days. But the good news is that they can be highly treatable, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America .

Anxiety is often professionally treated with one or both of the following:

Other ways to potentially ease anxiety include:

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Symptoms Of Anxiety In Men

Anxiety is more than having sweaty palms and butterflies in your stomach. Symptoms of anxiety can include ongoing feelings of worry, fear and impending doom that are so severe they interfere with your ability to work, maintain relationships and get a decent nights sleep. Physical signs of anxiety may include:

  • pounding or racing heart
  • thinking about death or suicide.

How To Tell If Someone Has Anxiety

How to support someone with social anxiety

Although you might suspect that someone youre close to is suffering from anxiety, its not always easy to tell. Unlike physical health problems which can display more visible signs, mental health problems can be harder to spot, especially as many of the symptoms are experienced psychologically by that person.

There are, however, certain signs and behaviours to keep an eye out for if you think that a friend, partner or family member has anxiety.

Here are some signs that may indicate that someone has anxiety:

  • They seem to worry a lot about things
  • They voice fears and worries to you that seem extreme or misplaced
  • They seem tense and on-edge a lot of the time
  • They can be irritable and snappy
  • They may suddenly become teary or appear overwhelmed
  • They struggle to make decisions and may deliberate for a long time
  • They ask for reassurance a lot
  • They appear tired and lacking in energy
  • They talk about trouble sleeping
  • They appear to have problems concentrating or remembering things
  • They avoid certain social situations
  • They need things to be done in a certain way and can sometimes appear controlling
  • They dont appear to enjoy the things that they used to
  • They withdraw from social circles and can be hard to see or get hold of
  • They appear to be drinking more or using drugs

If you have recognised several of these signs in the person youre worried about, then it may be that they are suffering from anxiety.

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How You Can Help

It might seem small, but just doing things together, being there and staying connected can be a big help.

Depression and anxiety are so common that its highly likely that at some point youll know someone who might be experiencing it. It might be someone in your whnau, a team-mate or someone from your community. People with depression and anxiety are more likely to get through with help and support than on their own.Being depressed and anxious can be a really lonely experience. Sometimes the most important thing is having supportive people around or checking in. Having a coffee, watching television, phoning or texting to say Hi can help a lot. When youre feeling down, knowing that people are thinking of you can really lift your spirits.Often when people are feeling bad they dont want to go out and do anything. Everything feels just too hard. So encouraging them to do something with you is a great support. It could be something small like watching funny video clips, listening to music, going for a walk or window-shopping. Think about something you both like to do. There are different things you can do, depending on who youre trying to help:

Identify Other Things That Can Help Alleviate Anxiety

There are anxiety treatment options without medication. We know that several factors increase anxiety, so by decreasing exposure or eliminating them, anxiety levels can improve. In addition, there are also a variety of physiological interventions that have been shown to decrease anxiety.

Here are some tips to alleviate anxiety:

  • Limit alcohol and caffeine

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Finding The Right Words To Say To Calm A Person With Anxiety

  • 1Avoid telling your friend to calm down. One of the worst things you can do for your friend if they are suffering from anxiety is say, “Calm down.” People with anxiety canât calm down, or they wouldnât have an anxiety disorder.XResearch source
  • Telling your friend to calm down can be interpreted as you dismissing their feelings, implying that your friend is irrational, or saying that the feelings arenât valid.
  • 2Offer sympathy instead of concern. Though you may be concerned when your friend has an anxiety attack, sharing your concern, being freaked out, or panicking yourself can increase your friendâs anxiety. Instead, be there for your friend and tell them you are sorry they are going through this. This can help your friend stay calm.XResearch source
  • Asking questions like, “Are you alright? Are you okay? Can you breathe?” or similar things can cause more anxiety since you are not calm.
  • Instead, tell your friend, “Iâm sorry you are going through this. This must be really difficult. This is an awful way to feel.”
  • 3Stay positive and encouraging. When your friend goes through an anxiety attack, try to be as positive and encouraging as you can. Help your friend remember that they are safe where they are at the moment.XTrustworthy SourceJohns Hopkins MedicineOfficial resource database of the world-leading Johns Hopkins HospitalGo to source
  • Saying these things to your friend may trivialize their feelings.
  • Be Aware Of Your Impact

    How To Help Someone with Anxiety

    If youre going to be late, let them know. Or if you dont have time to reply to an email or text, give a quick explanation so your friend isnt left to worry.

    Anxiety can be an inner-bully it can convince people they are burdensome. Make a conscious effort to reassure your anxious friend. A simple I love spending time with you means a lot.

    Read Also: Does Strattera Help With Anxiety

    Instead Say: Lets Go To A Quieter Place Or Go For A Walk

    If you want to try to help your friend get out of anxiety mode , you can try grounding them back in reality. Anxiety makes people hyper-focused on the thoughts, emotions and physical sensations that are causing the distress, so to get your friends mind off of those things, ask if they want to take a walk, listen to some music or go to a quiet corner.

    Sometimes we need a supportive push to help break us out of our vicious cycle of panic and panicking about panic. Techniques like this are similar to what trained psychologists and therapists use as part of cognitive behavioral therapy, the gold standard of treatment for people who have anxiety disorders.

    Ask Questions And Listen

    Once youve helped your loved one feel safe, you can begin to go deeper in conversation and explore some of the root causes of their anxiety. Dont force a conversation if its not the right time. Let them know that youre available and interested in talking, but let them call the shots about when and where and what.

    Remember: The goal here isnt to fix or solve or get rid of the problem. Its to offer support and compassionand one of the best ways to do that is by asking questions and listening intentionally.

    Here are some examples of questions you can ask:

    • When did you begin to feel this anxiety?
    • Was there a specific person or event that triggered it?
    • How can I support you today?
    • What do you need from me right now?
    • Is there anything thats stressing you out that I could help you say no to?

    And after you ask these questions, just shut up and listen. Look them in the eye. Nod your head. Validate what they share with simple responses like, Yeah, that sucks. Affirm their vulnerability by saying things like, Wowthank you for sharing that with me, or Im so proud of you for opening up about this.

    Most of all, dont give advice unless they specifically ask for it. And even then, check twice before offering your opinions.

    Also Check: Can Anxiety Make You Hot

    What Are The Symptoms Of Anxiety

    Symptoms of anxiety may vary from individual to individual. Common symptoms include heavy breathing, increased heart rate, recurrent thoughts, sweating, trembling, trouble sleeping, hampered concentration, gastro-intestinal trouble. A research report suggests in the year 2017, 197.3 million people had mental disorders in India, including 45.7 million with depressive disorders and 44.9 million with anxiety disorders.

    If these symptoms are making an individual dysfunctional, anxiety might take up the shape of disorders such as GAD, panic disorder, separation anxiety, social phobia and other specific phobias.

    Validate Their Feelings By Letting Them Know Its Okay Not To Be Okay

    what to say to someone with anxiety

    Many people with anxiety struggle with frequent worries or fears about the past or the future, and these thought patterns arent easy to change, Dr. Miller says.

    Dont ignore their feelings no matter how much you dont get it, Miller advises. Let your loved one know that its okay to feel however they feel. Validate them and their emotions. Being there means being there in a nonjudgmental way.

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    Helping To Manage A Panic Attack

    We have outlined a few options to help a loved one reach a state of calm while experiencing a panic attack. Please know that NAMI does not endorse any particular suggestion provided below. If someone you know is experiencing a panic attack, they may become very anxious and might not be thinking clearly. You may be able to help them by doing the following:

    • Stay in communication with them speak calmly and gently in short, simple sentences.
    • Ask if there is medicine the person usually takes during a panic attack.
    • Donât make assumptions about what your loved one needs, ask them.
    • Help your loved one slow their breathing by breathing with them. Speaking slowly in a reassuring tone, say: Were going to focus on your breathing right now.Just do your best to take a slow, deep breath in through your nose. Hold that breath for a moment Now slowly exhale through your mouth. Now another slow, deep breath in. Hold it And again, slowly exhale through your mouth.
    • If the panic attack continues, ask: Has this happened to you in the past? What has helped you in the past?
    • If your loved one is unable to identify what has worked in the past, offer help in a way that gives them agency. Example: I know a technique that helps with panic attacks. Would you like to try the technique with me?

    If Someone Has A More Serious Anxiety Problem Avoid Stigmatizing Them

    What can we do for folks with more serious issues? People experiencing things like panic disorder, depression mixed with anxiety, post-traumatic stress, or obsessional thinking may fear that theyre literally going crazy. Helping them may feel beyond your ability.

    You can still be supportive in many ways. When someone is experiencing significant anxiety, its helpful to reassure them that your overall perception of them hasnt changed. Theyre still the same person theyre just suffering a temporary problem situation that has become out of control. Theyre not broken and who they are hasnt changed. To the extent possible, you can help the person stay connected to positive aspects of their identity by participating in or encouraging their interests and hobbies.

    Sometimes, individuals who have chronic anxiety problems arent interested in changing. For example, you might be friends with someone who has agoraphobia or an eating disorder, but their condition is long-term and stable. In these cases, you can be accepting of that person so that they dont feel isolated. Being matter-of-fact about their limitations without excessively shaming them or insisting they should pursue becoming normal is often the best strategy.

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    Recognize What Can Help

    In addition to receiving professional medical help, individuals struggling with anxiety are encouraged to seek out ways to help manage their symptoms at home. There are a variety of approaches and activities people can try as part of an overall treatment plan, including:

    • Regular exercise or any type of physical activity.
    • Limiting alcohol and caffeine
    • Challenging negative thoughts and focusing on what you can control
    • Limiting worry time, but not fighting it

    Do Let Them Know Youre Here For Them

    SUPPORT: How can I help someone with anxiety and stress?

    When learning how to help someone with anxiety, you may want to explain to the person that youve noticed that they seem more anxious lately and that you want to help.

    This will typically come as a welcome relief to the person, as they realise that they dont have to carry the burden of their anxiety alone. Having this conversation gives the person a chance to see that they have people who care about them, who want to listen and who want them to feel better. Someone suffering from anxiety could also tell you ways you can help manage their anxiety symptoms.

    Recommended Reading: How To Tell If Your Having An Anxiety Attack

    Dont Say : Are You Ok

    If your friend told you theyre feeling super anxious, they clearly are not OK. Constantly asking them for a status update can make them feel pressured to get better now. When we see someone we care about suffering, our instinct is often to try to fix it. But some things, including anxiety, cant be fixed by outsiders.

    Learn About The Different Types Of Anxiety And Signs Of Them

    Anxiety is a natural emotion and physiological shift that occurs when people perceive potential harm toward oneself or others, says psychologist Timothy Yen, PsyD. Anxiety gears them up for a fight-or-flight response to address the danger, either to eliminate the threat or run away from it.

    Understanding the different types of anxiety and the common signs and symptoms can help you help your loved one. Heres what you need to know.

    Generalized anxiety disorder

    Generalized anxiety disorder is what typically first comes to mind when people think of anxiety. GAD is characterized by:

    Social phobia

    Social phobia is characterized by:

    • overwhelming anxiety
    • excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations
    • fear of eating in front of others
    • fear of public speaking
    • fear of being in public

    Keep in mind, symptoms can range from mild to severe. Some folks have no problem socializing in certain situations. But other folks can find any type of social setting to be triggering.

    Obsessive-compulsive disorder

    • recurring unwanted thoughts
    • repetitive or ritualistic behaviors

    These rituals tend to lend temporary anxiety relief. But failing to do them can trigger feelings of unease.

    Post-traumatic stress disorder

    PTSD can happen if someone is exposed to a traumatic event like:

    • jumping to conclusions

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    Understand The Signs Of Anxiety

    Anxiety can manifest in many different ways and levels of severity. But the symptoms or signs are often the same. While not an exhaustive list, the following physical symptoms, anxious thoughts, and behaviors are some of the most common.

    • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
    • Feelings of panic, fear, or nervousness
    • Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
    • All-or-nothing thinking
    • A feeling of impending doom
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Believing the worst will happen
    • Problems falling or staying asleep

    Stress Is Not Anxiety Or Depression

    How To Beat Social Anxiety

    Stress is not the same as anxiety or depression but for some people, being stressed for a long time can lead to anxiety or depression, and it can affect a persons physical health, particularly cardiovascular health.

    When we talk about being stressed, it usually means were upset or tense about something thats happening in our lives. Stress is a normal part of daily life. Its a natural physical and mental response that is designed to help people cope effectively with emergencies.

    Some stress can be a good thing. It can help us get motivated to get things done, but health problems from stress happen when it is regular and doesnt let up.

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