How to support someone with anxiety?
If someone you love has anxiety - or if you suspect they may have anxiety but don't know how to tell - it's easy to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and helpless.
To begin with, it's important to understand the difference between feeling worried and having a more serious mental health issue. People of all ages can suffer from anxiety. However, many people still do not understand the illness.
In recent years, mental illness has become more widely discussed. In spite of this, mental health still has a stigma attached to it. There is a stigma attached to anxiety that prevents many people from discussing it openly.
How Can You Tell If Someone Is Dealing With Anxiety?
In clinical anxiety, symptoms typically include withdrawal from friends and a loss of interest in activities one used to enjoy - and these symptoms persist for much longer periods of time than in typical anxiety
Here are signs and symptoms of anxiety to look out for,
Believing the worst will happen
Avoidance of feared situations or events
Irritability and frustration in feared situations
How to Help Someone With Anxiety?
If you know someone who has been diagnosed with anxiety or is showing any of these symptoms, knowing how to respond is crucial.
Here are six ways to help:
1. Learn About Anxiety
Different people react differently to anxiety. People can display a variety of behaviours, such as defensiveness, irritability, restlessness, as well as other anxiety-related traits.
You can better understand what the person you care about is going through by reading up on the anxiety types and their various symptoms. As a result, you'll be better able to understand their situation and spot any instances in which they might require additional support.
2. Let Them Know You’re Here for Them
When learning how to support someone who is experiencing anxiety, you might want to let them know that you've noticed they've been acting more anxious lately and that you'd like to support them.
The realization that they don't have to bear the burden of their anxiety alone will usually be a welcome relief to the person. By having this conversation, the person has the opportunity to realize that there are people out there who care about them, want to listen to them, and want them to feel better. Someone who is experiencing anxiety may also share strategies for managing their symptoms with you.
3. Listen to How They Want to Be Supported
Pay close attention to the person's preferences when you inquire about how you can help. After all, you want to understand how to support and assist those who are experiencing anxiety. They might need assistance breaking down a task they are worried about, they might need you to divert their attention from worrying thoughts, or they might just need someone to talk to.
You can provide them with genuine emotional support by taking the time to pay attention to them and understand their needs.
4. Keep Lines of Communication Open
It's crucial to have open communication with someone you're trying to help with their anxiety.
If you can, schedule regular visits with them as this will aid with managing their anxiety. Spend one-on-one time with them to give them the opportunity to discuss any worries they may have.
Another approach is to contact them once a week or send a text message every few days to check in on how their week is going. You could also stay in touch with them by phone or video.
5. Don't Constantly Talk About Their Anxiety
When someone is anxious, they might strive to avoid specific situations or locations. You might have started to alter your behaviour as a result. For instance, you might have begun to avoid specific locations or situations yourself, or you might have begun to take on responsibilities to support the person's avoidance.
In the short term, preventing the individual from worrying may appear helpful, but this avoidance may actually have a negative effect on them in the long run. They might not realize that they could genuinely handle the situations they are avoiding because of their continual avoidance, which might feed their anxieties.
6. Be Patient
Lack of interest in hobbies, employment, or social activities is an indicator that someone is experiencing anxiety. Keep in mind that if your loved one isolates themselves from friends, family, or other social interactions, their defence mechanism is kicking in.
If they aren't as invested as you are, don't take it personally and don't get upset.
Recovery takes time. Gather as much resolve and patience as you can to support this process rather than obstruct it. The problems and circumstances that contributed to their mental state are probably complicated and will therefore take time to resolve.
By being patient and understanding, you can help your loved ones get back to living a regular life as they learn effective coping mechanisms and tactics over time.