It comes to no surprise that any mental health diagnosis comes with its challenges.
Your friend might be going through a relatively negative headspace after a traditional diagnosis. It’s difficult for someone to cope with being classified under a mental illness at first and it’s normal to give them space to deal with their diagnosis. What happens after that though? How can you be there for them when you don’t know the specifics?
As someone who has been in both these positions prior to my own diagnosis, and post—I fully sympathize with your situation. It can be a lot of pressure to find the right words and ways to support someone who struggles with mental illness.
It’s the very reason I have decided to write a how-to series of posts dedicated to helping you support your friend or family member who is struggling with a specific mental health disorder. I’m starting this series with this post dedicated to helping you support someone in your life who struggles with an anxiety disorder.
Not to over-sell my talents but I believe this post will be one of the most reliable of the series because I struggle my anxiety disorder from time to time. In hopes of guiding you to support your friend or loved one with an anxiety disorder I’m going to leave you with a list of helpful techniques that you can use to support that person.
Disclaimer: As usual I will add that I am not a licensed professional or psychologist and my advice cannot be used as a form of treatment.
Here are some Methods you can use to support that person in your life who struggles with anxiety:
- Give them space
This may seem like a particularly vague and strange suggestion because when someone is upset or experiencing emotional stress our first instinct is to comfort them in whatever ways we can. In most situations this type of comfort is welcomed and helpful. Anxiety, in my experience, makes this approach a little less appealing because those who struggle with it are often easily overwhelmed with their own thoughts and managing their situation at hand. This is not to say you need to completely stop comforting this person but being able to gage whether they need time to recharge or not is a valuable tool that they will definitely thank you for.
- Do some research
Show the person that you really care about them by learning about their anxiety disorder, and how it influences them. Find out what it means to have anxiety. Pull up some articles, check out informative YouTube channels, and maybe even psychological blogs or journals. It could also be helpful to look into treatment plans and lifestyle advice to help them improve their condition. Please remember, you can be a valuable resource for that person don’t try to act like you known what’s best or micromanage their forms of treatment.
The best you can do is provide helpful suggestions for them to helpful suggestions for them to incorporate into their life. I recommend heading over to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America or Anxiety.org for more information and anxiety-related resources to get you started.
- Try to remain positive and encouraging
Obviously, this suggestion comes with its exceptions you can’t be unrealistically optimistic if your friend is severely struggling but it’s important to try to be positive and to try to convince them that everything will be alright.
As someone who deals with anxiety I can become quickly stressed out over what might seem the most trivial of problems. It might seem like common sense, but I find talking with a friend or family member whose positivity counteracts my stress to be incredibly helpful.
- Just Listen
It’s cliché but the more you talk to your friend or family member about what they are going through and let them share their challenges with you the closer you will be. It’s a blessing knowing that there is someone in your corner willing to help you through your anxiety and get you to feel better.
These are just some of the ways I recommend you support someone you know who struggles with an anxiety disorder.
It’s worth mentioning that everyone responds differently so the best way you can help your friend or family member is by asking them how you can help. They might not always feel comfortable sharing the details of their diagnosis but it’s a great way for you to show them you are invested in helping them feel better.
If you or a loved one is struggling with anxiety, please reach out to counseling services or a hotline via: https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/anxiety-hotline/
How do you help support your friend or family member with anxiety? Let me know in the comments below and feel free to like and share!
As always, remember to make your mind a priority and take care –