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What To Tell Someone With Anxiety

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

How to tell if someone has 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, âCalm down.â 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, âAre you alright? Are you okay? Can you breathe?â or similar things can cause more anxiety since you are not calm.
  • Instead, tell your friend, âIâm sorry you are going through this. This must be really difficult. This is an awful way to feel.â
  • 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.
  • Colin Macallister 52 Belfast: Dont Say: Youre Being Ridiculous

    Anxiety is like being stretched on a medieval rack with surges of panic being randomly poured on you like buckets of ice-cold water. Or just the simple act of sitting down for a meal with friends. I can feel myself being tortured by thoughts whizzing dangerously close to my head: what if you die? What if you have a heart attack? What if you are sick? What if you cant make it to the toilet and have an accident?

    The worst thing to say to someone with anxiety is: What are you worrying about? Youre being ridiculous. You need to get over it. The best thing is: I dont understand why you are feeling this, but what can I do for you?

    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.

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    Do Keep Lines Of Communication Open

    When it comes to helping someone with anxiety, it is important to keep an open line of communication with them.

    If you are able to, see the person regularly as this will help with managing anxiety. Spend one-on-one time with them so that they have opportunities to talk about anything they feel anxious about. You can also keep in touch over the phone, video or phone calling them once a week, or sending a text every few days just to see how their week is going.

    Salma Begum 18 Cambridge: Its Not That We Dont Think Positively Its Just That Anxiety Overrides It

    3 Things Not To Say To A Person With Anxiety Fizzstah Blogs

    Let me dispel some myths. Firstly, some assume anxiety is not much of a big deal and can be avoided or just switched off. There is also a general belief that anxiety only happens to people who have had a traumatic life events. Thinking theres nothing they can do to help someone with anxiety or that its best to leave them alone when that person has isolated themselves.

    The worst thing to say to someone with anxiety is to calm down or that their thoughts are irrational, telling them to think positively and not to be silly. Its not that we dont think positively. Its just that anxiety overrides it. The best way to handle the situation is to reassure the person that you are there for them, ask them how they are and talk about the problems.

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    Are There Tests That Diagnose Anxiety

    A single test cant diagnose anxiety. Instead, an anxiety diagnosis requires a lengthy process of physical examinations, mental health evaluations, and psychological questionnaires.

    Some doctors may conduct a physical exam, including blood or urine tests to rule out underlying medical conditions that could contribute to symptoms youre experiencing.

    Several anxiety tests and scales are also used to help your doctor assess the level of anxiety youre experiencing. Reach about each of these tests.

    Take Care Of Yourself Too

    Recognize that your goal is to help, not to cure the person or relieve them from their anxiety. Taking too much responsibility is actually a symptom of anxiety, so make sure youre not falling into that trap yourself.

    Keep in mind that your support doesnt need to be directly focused on anxiety. For example, exercise is extremely helpful for anxiety so perhaps you could simply offer to go for a walk or attend a yoga class together. Its also fine to put some limits on your support. A 20-minute de-stressing conversation while taking a walk is far more likely to be useful than a two-hour marathon discussion.

    Helping someone with anxiety isnt always easy and you may feel like youre getting it wrong. But, if you remind yourself that you and your loved one are both doing your best, it can help you keep things in perspective. Its important to remain compassionate and, as the saying goes, to put on your own oxygen mask first. That way, youll have a clearer head for figuring out whats going on with your anxious loved one and how you can truly be of help.

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    This Is Not As Big Of A Deal As Youre Making It Out To Be

    When you tell someone with anxiety that something upsetting them isnt a big deal, they translate it into being told theyre overreacting.

    Whatever it is that theyre worrying about is clearly important to them

    Whatever it is that theyre worrying about is clearly important to them, and in that moment, it feels like the biggest, scariest, worst thing that could happen. Not only is it not up to you to determine what embodies a big deal, you also cant expect them to just turn that fear off.

    Furthermore, pointing out that a fear is irrational doesnt help in the slightest. They already know its irrational, and it irritates them just as much as it does you. Unfortunately, knowing that their fears are unjustified doesnt stop racing thoughts or the anticipation of hundreds of different worst-case scenarios.

    The truth is, if it were as easy as saying thats irrational, so theres no need to worry about it, the majority of people with anxiety disorders would be cured.

    Dont Say : Are You Ok

    Anxiety | 5 Things To Say to Someone with Anxiety

    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.

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    I Was Thinking About You Today And Wondering How That Went

    Did this person recently experience something particularly anxiety-inducing, like a job interview, family get-together, or even something smaller, like a tough phone call? This text will be a good way to check in and give them a chance to talk about how it went, Potter says, while also communicating that you care and think about them often.

    Why Cant You Be More Positive

    Anxiety isnt about negativity for many sufferers its a learned response from traumatic events which have caused us to feel as if we are constantly unsafe. When youve experienced trauma, these feelings make it incredibly hard to see the world optimistically.

    Telling someone to look on the bright side or see the glass as half full are tremendously patronizing when theyre hurting.

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    Passing On Chances To Be Social

    People with anxiety will always seem like they never want to hang out or meet but that really is not the case. They will definitely want to say yes and go out but their anxiety will prevent them from being social. People with anxiety generally struggle with holding a long conversation for the fear of being judged. Hence, despite the desire to go out and be social, their fear of interaction or any confrontation is what prevents them from going out. Dont take this as a sign that they dont want to meet you but rather figure out something which makes them comfortable.

    Understand Differences In How Anxiety Manifests

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    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.

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    You Just Need To Push Through It

    Another semi-sweet bit of advice is the “you just need to push through it” phrase. Even though you’re trying to be kind, keep in mind someone with anxiety can’t just magically feel better. “Forcing someone with an anxiety disorder to face their fears has the ability to make things much worse,” Jackson says. Not to mention it’s a pretty heartless thing to say to someone who’s suffering from a true disorder.

    Instead Say: Im Always Here For You

    You dont have to understand what your friend is going through to be there for them, and you dont have to compare your experiences to theirs to show them that you understand what they feel.

    If you dont know what its like to have severe anxiety, be honest about that. But also let them know that you know its real for them and you want to be there to support them however you can.

    Showing you care will help if your friend is self-conscious about their anxiety or has a hard time opening up about it. Listen without judgment to what they have to say and what their experiences are like. Being there for someone even when you cant relate is a powerful way of showing support.

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    Here Are Some Of My Favorite Social Anxiety Tools

    Thanks for reading! I hope you found some helpful tips. Since this site is about social anxiety, I wanted to also share some tools I use that I hope youll find helpful. Some of these are affiliate links, so if you decide to try them, Ill earn a commission. However, I only recommend things I have used myself and would recommend to a friend or family member.

    Anxiety Can Actually Deepen Your Relationship

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    Anxiety isnt only a source of stress in a relationship. Its also an opportunity to understand and love your partner more deeply. The beliefs behind their anxiety is a part of who they are.

    By learning about anxiety or seeking help from a mental health professional, you can support your partner and look out for your own mental health. Then your relationship can become stronger and more full of joy.

    Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.

    Our goal at Talkspace is to provide the most up-to-date, valuable, and objective information on mental health-related topics in order to help readers make informed decisions.

    Articles contain trusted third-party sources that are either directly linked to in the text or listed at the bottom to take readers directly to the source.

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    Tip #: Think About What To Say

    A great way to deal with any anxiety related to performance or confrontation is to plan what you will say ahead of time. This gives you time to think about what it is you really want to say and to practice expressing yourself. The more performers rehearse for a performance, the less stage fright they experienceand the same is true for having difficult conversations. If you still find it difficult to express yourself, you can always jot down notes or send your family member an email.

    What Are The Symptoms Of Anxiety

    Anxiety feels different depending on the person experiencing it. Feelings can range from butterflies in your stomach to a racing heart. You might feel out of control, like theres a disconnect between your mind and body.

    Other ways people experience anxiety include nightmares, panic attacks, and painful thoughts or memories that you cant control. You may have a general feeling of fear and worry, or you may fear a specific place or event.

    Symptoms of general anxiety include:

    • increased heart rate
    • trouble concentrating
    • difficulty falling asleep

    Your anxiety symptoms might be totally different from someone elses. Thats why its important to know all the ways anxiety can present itself. Read about the many types of anxiety symptoms you might experience.

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