Anxiety is a common mental health disorder that can range from mild to severe, but if you do not suffer from it yourself, it can be hard to place yourself in the mind of someone who does. If your loved one struggles with this condition, you may be at a loss for what to do, but there is hope. Below are some helpful tips for helping someone with anxiety. These allow you to show up for your loved one without exacerbating the symptoms that they are struggling with.
How Can I Help Someone With Anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of intense fear and doom. While experiencing anxiety sometimes, or before a major event is normal, this feeling severely affects people with anxiety disorders to the point where it disrupts their everyday lives. Even if you do not have much personal experience with anxiety, you can still learn how to help someone with severe anxiety develop a routine that helps them manage their symptoms and live a happy life.
With that said, our mental health rehab in Florida is sharing a few tips for helping someone with anxiety so that you can both feel better.
Anxiety is a common mental health disorder that can manifest itself in several different ways, and part of helping someone with anxiety is understanding it. Do your research to determine what type of anxiety your loved one may be suffering from.
Some common types of anxiety disorders include:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): This condition is characterized by excessive and persistent worrying about various aspects of life, including work, school, and family.
- Panic Disorder: An anxiety disorder characterized by sudden and intense episodes of fear, accompanied by physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, sweating, and shaking.
- Social Anxiety Disorder: Social anxiety involves intense fear and anxiety in social situations, often leading to avoidance of social interactions altogether.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Though many people may claim to have OCD, those who have this condition experience persistent and intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors or mental acts (compulsions) that they feel obligated to perform.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Often affecting veterans and first responders, PTSD is a type of anxiety that occurs in response to a traumatic event and can lead to intrusive memories, avoidance behavior, and hyperarousal.
- Separation Anxiety Disorder: Having excessive fear or anxiety about being separated from a person or place of attachment can indicate separation anxiety disorder. This disorder can prevent a person from developing coping skills and strategies to manage their anxiety on their own.
Below, we give you additional insight into what can trigger their symptoms and how to combat them.
Don’t Dismiss It
If you do not suffer from anxiety yourself, you likely do not understand what the person you care about is going through. While it may be tempting to dismiss their anxiety as unwarranted, their fears and worries are a very real threat in their eyes. Telling someone that their anxiety is unfounded or that they should just move on is dismissive and hurtful.
They may no longer feel comfortable talking to you about their problems. This lack of support can not only make it more difficult for your loved one to cope with their anxiety but can also create a rift in your relationship with them.
So instead of saying things like, “You have no reason to feel anxious” or questioning their anxiety, instead say things like, “Although I do not personally understand how you feel, I can see that it is upsetting you. I just want to reassure you that everything is okay.”
Learning how to help someone experiencing anxiety can be tricky because, in your attempt to ease their symptoms, you might unknowingly be enabling them. While you do not want to dismiss their anxiety, you do not want to enable them, either.
Also known as accommodation, enabling someone with anxiety occurs when the anxious individual asks another person to do or not do something so they can feel better. While this may seem helpful now, going out of your way and trying to eliminate any causes of their anxiety may make matters worse overall. For instance, feeding into their feelings of impending doom as opposed to combating them can make a person much more likely to succumb to anxious thoughts.
Avoidance can make facing these situations even more stressful and elevate the sense of anxiety surrounding them. Instead, you must find a balance between avoidance and pushing them too hard.
Although you may not know how to help someone with anxiety disorder, you do know how to listen. Letting your loved one vent or express their worries without fear of judgment can be exactly what they need to feel better. Many people with mental health problems need the support of their loved ones to see improvements, and active listening can be an effortless way to do this. When a person close to them can practice compassion when offering that support, it can be extremely helpful in bringing them down to earth and re-centering them.
Avoid Over-Controlling the Situation
Over-controlling is when someone tries to supervise, regulate, or otherwise control every aspect of something. Over-controlling a person with anxiety can be harmful because it can exacerbate their symptoms. Anxiety is often rooted in a feeling of lack of control. When someone is overcontrolled, they may feel even more helpless and powerless. Furthermore, it can send the message that you do not trust them to handle situations on their own, which can lead to feelings of low self-worth and an overall lack of confidence.
It can also prevent them from developing coping skills and strategies to manage their anxiety independently. Ultimately, overcontrolling a person in this context can create a vicious cycle where they feel more anxious and reliant on others to manage their symptoms rather than developing the skills and resilience to cope with it without assistance.
Change Lifestyles Together
Anxiety disorders can be exacerbated by lack of sleep, poor eating habits, bad physical health, and substance use. Drug and alcohol use especially can lead to lasting problems that may require dual diagnosis treatment to see improvements.
Helping someone with anxiety may be as simple as helping them get healthier in these areas of their life. There are many natural remedies for anxiety you two can adopt together. If you both vow to make these changes, you can keep each other accountable.
Not only may your loved one’s anxiety improve, but you will also get to reap the many benefits of a healthier lifestyle as well. Additionally, if you or your loved one requires help with substance abuse, our addiction treatment in Lake Worth can help.
We assist people with all kinds of substance use disorders in overcoming their conditions and learning how to sustain sober lives.
Showing your support to a loved one that is struggling is perhaps the most important way you can help them. Being supportive is a vital part of helping someone with an anxiety disorder, but keep in mind that support is different for everyone. The best way to determine how you can help someone who is struggling to manage their anxiety is to simply ask them. Talk to your loved one about what type of support they want or need from you.
Some people may want more of a shoulder to cry on, while others may want you to help them break down their dangerous thoughts. When you know what support your loved one needs and expects, it becomes easier to help them during times of anxiety.
Get Them Help
Helping someone with severe anxiety is especially challenging, and you can only do so much. If your loved one continues to struggle or you notice that their anxiety is interfering with their everyday life, try to convince them to get the opinions of and advice from a professional. Many people think they must live with these problems, but there are treatments that can help.
Our Banyan Lake Worth rehab offers various disorder-specific mental health programs, such as our anxiety treatment. We develop a personal treatment plan for each patient that focuses on managing symptoms and improving patients’ lives overall.
At Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches, we help people with both mental illness and substance abuse disorders. Whether you need help for yourself or a loved one, call our Lake Worth drug rehab today at 561-220-3981 for more information about our Florida mental health services.