How to Help Someone With Anxiety

Dealing with anxiety is tough, but dealing with someone else’s anxiety can also be a challenging and daunting experience. Anxiety can manifest itself in different forms, including excessive worry, panic attacks, insomnia, and even physical symptoms like chest pain and shortness of breath. When someone you love or care about goes through an anxiety episode, it’s natural to want to help them get through it. Here are some helpful tips to support and assist someone struggling with anxiety.

Stay Calm

If someone close to you is having an anxiety attack, it’s essential to remain calm and grounded. Do not panic or try to fix the situation as it will only worsen the situation. You need to reassure the person that they are safe and can get through it. Speak in a calm and measured tone and identify the cause of the attack with them. It’s okay not to have all the answers, even as a caregiver, but being present and calm is essential.

Listen With Empathy

One of the most effective ways to help someone with anxiety is to listen to them with empathy. Be attentive and mindful of their feelings and emotions, and try not to judge them. Encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings by asking open-ended questions. Your goal is not to offer solutions or tell them that their thoughts are irrational but rather to make them feel heard and understood.

Encourage Them to Seek Professional Help

While you might be able to provide emotional support, it’s crucial to encourage the individual to seek professional help, like a therapist or counsellor who has experience in treating anxiety disorders. A mental health professional can provide tangible tools and methods to help manage anxiety and provide long-term solutions for the individual struggling with anxiety. Assure the person that seeking help does not make them weak or defective and can lead to positive changes in their lives. If they are reluctant to seek professional help, offer to support them and accompany them to their first appointment.

Help Them Practice Grounding Techniques

Grounding techniques are simple exercises that can help individuals focus on the present and reduce feelings of anxiety. Some examples of grounding techniques include deep breathing, visualisation, and progressive muscle relaxation. Encourage the person to practice these techniques regularly to help build their skills to manage anxiety more effectively. Try to find techniques that work for them and practice them together.

Encourage Healthy Habits

Maintaining healthy habits such as healthy eating, regular exercise, and getting enough sleep can significantly impact a person’s anxiety levels. Encourage the individual to engage in activities they enjoy and suggest healthy habits as coping mechanisms for their anxiety. Some people may not feel like doing much of anything during an anxiety episode, so offering gentle encouragement and prioritising self-care can be incredibly helpful.

Be Understanding and Patient

Recovering from anxiety is not a linear process, and it’s essential to understand that the person may have good and bad days during their journey. Change is not easy, and it can take time for the individual to implement new habits and techniques in their lives. Be patient and continue to offer support even when things may seem uncertain or challenging.

Final Thoughts

Supporting someone with anxiety takes time, effort, and patience. Your support and love can make a huge difference for them. Remember to listen with an open mind and heart, be encouraging, and advocate for them as they navigate through this challenging period. With your help and support, they can learn to manage and overcome their anxiety.

FAQs

FAQs: How to Help Someone with Anxiety

What are the symptoms of anxiety and how do I recognise them in someone?

Anxiety can manifest in many different ways, including physical symptoms such as excessive sweating, trembling, and heart palpitations. However, anxiety can also cause emotional symptoms such as irritability, agitation, and even panic attacks. If you notice any of these symptoms in someone, it’s important to approach them with compassion and understanding, and ask how you can support them.

What are some effective ways to offer support to someone with anxiety?

Offering emotional support is key when helping someone with anxiety. It’s important to let them know that you are there for them, reassure them that their feelings are valid, and validate their experiences. Encourage them to seek professional help if needed, and offer to accompany them during their appointments. Additionally, suggest activities that can provide a healthy distraction, such as exercise or meditation.

How can I encourage someone with anxiety to seek professional help?

It’s important to approach this conversation with sensitivity and empathy. Explain to your loved one that seeking professional help is a brave and proactive step towards feeling better. Highlight the benefits of therapy and medication, such as improved quality of life, and offer to help them find a qualified professional. Remember, it’s essential to respect their boundaries and allow them to make their own decisions.


References

1. Bandelow, B., Michaelis, S., & Wedekind, D. (2017). Treatment of anxiety disorders. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 19(2), 93–107. https://doi.org/10.31887/DCNS.2017.19.2/bbandelow

2. Hofmann, S. G., Asnaani, A., Vonk, I. J. J., Sawyer, A. T., & Fang, A. (2012). The Efficacy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A Review of Meta-analyses. Cognitive therapy and research, 36(5), 427–440. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-012-9476-1

3. National Institute of Mental Health. (2018). Anxiety Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml