Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the United States. They are far more common than bipolar disorder or depression — affecting 40 million adults in the U.S. every year. So, the chances are that you know someone who has an anxiety disorder.
It can be hard to know how to help someone with anxiety. Your loved one may become completely overwhelmed because of fear. You may grow frustrated with your friend or family member knowing that the anxiety or panic isn't logical. Here are some of the best ways that you can help.
Don’t Disregard Their Feelings
When someone isn't acting logically, your first inclination might be to tell them that they have nothing to worry about. If you know that their worries are not logical, you might say to them "snap out of it." However, it is important not to disregard or diminish a person's feelings when they have anxiety. If it were that easy to calm down, they would do it. Don't ignore or refuse to acknowledge what they are experiencing. Just listen and be there for your loved one when they need you.
Make An Effort To Understand What They Are Going Through
One of the best ways to support your loved one is to learn more about anxiety disorders. Doing this will help you understand what they are experiencing. The best way to learn about anxiety disorders is to read articles, blog posts or check out informational videos. You can also ask your loved one’s therapist about about the disorder. They should be able to give you answers, as well as provide you with ideas on ways that you can help your loved one.
Remind Them To Use Relaxation Skills
During an anxiety episode or a panic attack, it can be hard for a person to calm down. The mind races, the body tenses, and feelings of dread overwhelm the senses when a person is experiencing a severe anxiety attack. It can be hard for the person to relax and bring themselves back to reality. Make it a point to learn relaxation skills too. Then, remind your loved one to use them when they are feeling anxious. You can do the skills right along with the person.
Encourage Them To Face Their Anxiety
One of the most common ways that people try to cope with anxiety is with avoidance. Unfortunately, this only makes things worse. They might avoid situations that trigger anxiety. If you bring up going to couples counseling or therapy, there may be some resistance. It is sometimes tough to face one's fears. Avoidance might seem like the easier path to take. Unfortunately, avoidance is precisely what someone with anxiety doesn’t need to do. Learning how to respond to and change anxiety is the key to getting better. So, encourage your loved one to face their anxiety and get help. Let them know that you will be there for them.
Little things can go a long way when it comes to supporting someone with anxiety. Having a sympathetic ear and encouraging them to get help can make a big difference. Just make sure that you are taking care of yourself too.
Are you located in the greater Sacramento area? If so and your loved one has an anxiety disorder, consider Sacramento couples therapy. We offer anxiety treatment and can help with other issues, as well. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
Nancy Ryan, LMFT specializes in working with individuals and couples who want deep, satisfying relationships with themselves and their partners. She works with couples who are ready to stop the destructive patterns and want to build the love, friendship and romance back into their partnership.