Helping Someone With an Anxiety Disorder
If a loved one or a friend is suffering from an anxiety disorder, it is not just difficult for him or her; it is also difficult for the rest of the family. How should you respond to someone who is under severe stress and feels excessively anxious?
Be supportive, not judgemental
One of the first rules is to never give out an impression that you are judging him or her. Show support without being judgemental. You could tell your friend that what she is going through is no big deal, and everyone goes through it, only to trigger more anger or strong reactions. Their worries may seem trivial to you, but never tell them that. Statements like “that must be very tough for you” or “do let me know how I can help”, can help. Such statements are not judgemental and show genuine support and care.
Not to panic in the wake of panic!
When a loved one is anxious and panicking, it is very easy for you to panic as well and contribute to the surge in emotions. Stay calm, be supportive but never jump along and join in!
While it is important to validate your friend or partner’s suffering, it is equally crucial not to enable the suffering further. Tell the person it is not his or her fault, and never be a partner of your friend’s anxiety and fear.
Before that, it helps to understand what your loved one might experience during a panic or anxiety attack. The symptoms include sweating, palpitations, nausea, shaking, flushed look inn the face and the need to sit immediately, among others.
Some of the things you could do to offer immediate support are:
- Ask if you friend needs a cup of tea or just water.
- Ask the person to take a couple of deep breaths, and suggest going for a walk.
- Sometimes, all your friend needs is a change of scenery to overcome anxiety.
- If you are really close to the friend, ask if he or she wants a hug. Sometimes, physical connection helps.
- Give your loved one the feeling or assurance that it is perfectly alright to cry.
- Reassure the person that you care for them and you want to help; ask her if she wants to talk about the anxiety attack.
Time and a lending ear
Sometimes, silence helps greatly because it is not often all about what you think or tell the other person that matters. The simple act of listening and being present and making time for the other person is enough.
Need more help?