Walk Or Do Some Light Exercise
Walking can remove a person from a stressful environment, and the rhythm of walking may also help them regulate their breathing.
Moving around releases hormones called endorphins that relax the body and improve mood. Taking up regular exercise can help reduce anxiety over time, which may lead to a reduction in the number or severity of panic attacks.
Match Your Support To Their Preferences And Attachment Style
Its best to ask someone what type of support they prefer rather than guess! However, we know from research that people who have an avoidant attachment style are likely to respond best to strong displays of concrete practical support. That could include helping the anxious person break tasks down into manageable steps, or talking through specific options for how to deal with a difficult situation, like how to respond to an angry email, but still acknowledging their autonomy and independence while doing so.
Other people are more likely to prefer emotional support, especially those who are securely attached, or who have a preoccupied attachment style due to a fear of being abandoned or of their emotions being overwhelming to others. Folks like this respond well to statements emphasizing that theyre part of a tight teamfor example, their supporter saying, This is tough but we love each other and well get through it together.
How Do I Know If Someone Has Anxiety
Anxiety is worrying that is intense and wont go away. Everyone worries sometimes, but worries that get in the way of life are a medical problem.
You can tell if anxiety has gotten out of control if a loved ones worries are stopping them from doing the things they need to do, like going to school or getting along with others. Anxiety is also a problem if its keeping them from feeling good about life.
Anxiety can cause a number of other symptoms. Often those symptoms are things you cant see, but sometimes anxiety causes physical symptoms, too. Along with worrying, folks with anxiety might have:
A fear of losing control
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What If The Treatments Dont Seem To Work
Effective treatments for anxiety dont always work quickly, and its easy to get discouraged. Psychotherapy might take several months to make a difference. Medications can be even more frustrating: It can be 4 to 6 weeks before they really work.
That said, if a couple of months have passed and nothing is working, or if the situation is getting worse, go back to your provider. Doctors assume things are going well if they dont hear from you. Let them know things arent getting better, and they can give you other options.
What Are Some Treatments For Someone Experiencing Anxiety
Anxiety has been a diagnosable condition for many years, and there has been no shortage of potential treatments to deal with this debilitating condition. Thankfully, while the number of treatment options can seem overwhelming, there are also a variety of potential sources to find help. This includes the National Mental Health Hotline, which can be reached at 866-903-3787. Other resources include:
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Instead Say: What Can I Do To Help You
If your friend has been dealing with anxiety for a while, chances are they already know what does and doesnt help them feel better. Ask what they need and then do it, even if their request seems silly to you. Showing youre willing to offer assistance helps us anxious folk feel like were being taken seriously.
Supporting Your Friend With Anxiety
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Talk To Someone Friendly
Another very effective technique is to talk to someone you like and trust, especially on the phone. Don’t be shy about your anxiety – tell them you feel anxious and explain what you’re feeling.
Talking to nice, empathetic people keeps your mind off of your symptoms, and the supportive nature of friends and family gives you an added boost of confidence. If you’re suffering from a panic attack, it also helps you feel more confident that if something were wrong, you’d have someone that can watch over you.
Help Them Imagine The Worst
Though it seems counterintuitive to managing anxiety, helping an anxious person examine every catastrophe theyre imagining can, per Dr. Paul Puri, psychiatrist, and the Chief Medical Officer and co-founder of OOtify mental health community, actually organize and demystify punishing thoughts. Many people going through anxiety suffer from catastrophic thinking, he explains. They imagine the absolute worst thing that can possibly happen, but they dont play it out fully. Help them do that. Ask them what would happen next? And what would happen after that? And so on. Often, if they can come up with a plan for that worst case scenario, theres a lot less to be afraid of.
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Recognize When Your Friend Is In Trouble
Its important to remember that if your friend is experiencing an anxiety attack, they may not be willing or able to talk about it. Anxiety can take over someones brain in a funny way and make help-seeking behaviors difficult to engage in. As such, you should try to recognize when your friend is having anxiety issues. There are a variety of symptoms that can demonstrate when someone is having an anxiety attack, and these symptoms may manifest themselves in ways that are physical, emotional, or cognitive. Make sure to recognize these symptoms so you can tell when your friend is in pain.
How To Help Someone With Anxiety
All of us worry and get scared from time to time. But those with anxiety may feel consumed by fears of things that might seem irrational to others. It can be hard to relate to these concerns, and as a result, many people dont know how to best help someone with anxiety. People are often dismissive of people experiencing anxiety, says Joseph McGuire, Ph.D., a pediatric psychologist with Johns Hopkins Medicine. With other medical illnesses, you may be able to see physical symptoms. But with anxiety, you dont necessarily see what the person is dealing with. So its important to be sensitive to what the person with anxiety is going through, even if it doesnt make sense to you. Its distressing to watch a loved one experience panic attacks and face anxiety every day, but there are things you can do to help. It starts with recognizing the signs of excessive worry and understanding the best ways to support your loved one.
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Make One Little Change
Sometimes we can get caught up thinking that the changes that we need to make to get out of a rut need to be big. Make one little change and see if it has ripple effects in your life.
The change could be as small as watching the news every evening to keep up on current events and have more to say during small talk.
Do Look After Yourself
When you offer to help with anxiety, it is understandable for you to feel frustrated, scared or tired from time-to-time. It is likely that their anxieties are having an effect on you too.
Make sure that youre dealing with these emotions and maintaining your wellbeing. Talk to other friends or family members about how you are feeling, think about accessing therapeutic support, take really good care of your physical and mental health, and book in time every week to do activities that you enjoy. By keeping yourself well, you will be in a much better position to help the person with anxiety.
And always remember, youre doing your best.
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Anxiety Doesnt Have To Be Forever
Good folks, I want to high-five you for loving the people around you enough to learn how you can support them. If youre interested in learning more about topics related to anxiety, I invite you to grab a copy of my Quick Read, Redefining Anxiety. Its a short book that uncovers four common myths about anxiety, and it offers you a plan to get your life back on track.
About the author
Dr. John Delony
Dr. John Delony is a mental health expert with two PhDs in counselor education and supervision, and higher education administration from Texas Tech University. Before joining Ramsey Solutions in 2020, John worked as a senior leader, professor and researcher at multiple universities. He also spent two decades in crisis response, walking with people through severe trauma. Now as a Ramsey Personality, he teaches on relationships, mental health and wellness.Learn More.
Ask If They Need Help
For someone with anxiety, the most important thing you can do is ask if you can help them. Some people prefer to be left alone, processing the anxiety by themselves. Others rely on and need the support of others. The best thing that you can do is learn how you can help your friend. Ask them what sort of support they need and how you can be of assistance to them. Find out their style of coping, and learn how you can be of assistance.
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Offer Support But Dont Take Over
Avoidance is a core feature of anxiety, so sometimes we may feel pulled to help out by doing things for our avoidant loved ones and inadvertently feed their avoidance. For instance, if your anxious roommate finds making phone calls incredibly stressful and you end up doing this for them, they never push through their avoidance.
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A good general principle to keep in mind is that support means helping someone to help themselves, not doing things for them, which includes virtually anything that stops short of actually doing it yourself. For example, you might offer to attend a first therapy session with your loved one if they set up the appointment. Or, if theyre not sure how to choose a therapist, you might brainstorm ways of doing that, but let them choose.
An exception might be when someones anxiety is accompanied by severe depression. If they cant get themselves out of bed, they may be so shut down that they temporarily need people to do whatever is needed to help them stay alive. Also, sometimes loved ones are so gripped by an anxiety disorder that theyre in pure survival mode and need more hands-on help to get things done. In less extreme circumstances, however, its best to offer support without taking over or overdoing the reassurance.
Guide Her Back To Reality
People with anxiety tend to greatly exaggerate the difficulty of a task and the horrible outcome if they fail, Wehrenberg says.
What you can do is get real with your friend or loved one. Shes worried about what could possibly happen. Ask her what will probably happen, she says, because when you bring people a little bit into reality, they are more able to shake off the fear.
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Understand Differences In How Anxiety Manifests
Because of evolution, were wired to respond to fear by either fight, flight, or freeze. For different people, one of these responses will typically dominate. For instance, my spouse tends to freeze and will bury her head in the sand rather than deal with things that make her feel stressed and panicky. I tend more toward fighting, and will become irritable, excessively perfectionistic, or dogmatic if I feel stressed.
When you understand that anxiety is designed to put us into a mode of threat sensitivity, its easier to understand someone who is feeling scared and acting out by being irritable or defensive, and to find compassion for them. By paying attention to how anxiety manifests in the person you care about, you can learn their patterns and be in a better position to help.
Tips For Men Coping With Anxiety And Depression
There are lots of things you can do to look after your health and wellbeing, so find an approach that best suits you. For example, try to stay active and make plans for the day they dont have to be grand plans, just small things like going for a run or talking to a mate.
Try to include activities or hobbies that you specifically enjoy. At first, you may not enjoy them as much as you did before, but if you keep active and persist, the enjoyment should eventually return.
Its important to look after your body by staying physically active, eating healthily and getting plenty of sleep. Try not to drink alcohol or take other drugs to block out how youre feeling and what is happening. This is not a positive long-term solution and can make the anxiety or depression worse.
The important thing is to find the right options and the right health professionals that suit you.
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Dont Say: Have You Tried Meditation/yoga/cutting Caffeine/exercising More
Meditation and yoga and deep breathing and all of the other anti-anxiety trends that have taken pop culture by storm might be helpful for some people, maybe even your ultra-anxious friend. But they also might not.
Extreme anxiety can feel consuming, which means that small things like taking a few deep breaths might not be enough to counter panic in the moment. Anxiety can also make someone feel so restless that sitting quietly and letting their thoughts float away is pretty much impossible.
Everyone with anxiety has different relaxation techniques that work for them and some people need to do something active, like go for a run, instead of sitting and breathing calmly. Others may need to work with a therapist. Dont offer unsolicited advice unless youve been trained to treat people with anxiety disorders or you have one yourself and want to share your experience.