How to Help Someone With Anxiety: Dos and Don’ts

Like many people, you may not know how to help someone with anxiety. Our experienced anxiety therapists  have been helping Maryland and Virginia residents for years.  It’s a tricky mental health disorder. Unlike some other medical conditions, the physical symptoms don’t tell the whole story. People with anxiety often experience an internal struggle as they experience concerns that might seem trivial to the average person but feel crippling to them. Not understanding what a person is going through can make it challenging to help a friend, partner, or family member. Here are some expert tips that can guide you.

How to Help Someone with Anxiety

How to Help Someone with Anxiety

DO: Pay Attention to Anxious Behaviors and Understand Where They Come From  

As the most prevalent mental health disorder in the United States, anxiety impacts roughly 18% of the country. The signs of anxiety, however, aren’t always easy to notice. 

Loved ones may complain of physical symptoms, such as being lightheaded or nauseous, feel muscle tension, or they might constantly seem on edge. However, in many cases, anxious behaviors are the first thing you’ll notice. For instance, many people who struggle with anxiety:

  • Worry excessively
  • Second-guess themselves
  • Act compulsively
  • Seek reassurance and validation

Irrational thought patterns drive these types of behavior. Whether it’s overly negative thinking or an all or nothing attitude, the result is a constant state of worry that begins to manifest itself with these actions.

Many individuals will need talk therapy and possibly medication management for anxiety disorders. However, family members, significant others, and close friends can learn to identify these behaviors as the first point of contact. From there, they can provide emotional support.

DON’T: Dismiss Your Loved One’s Feelings

Your heart might be in the right place if you say things like, “Relax,” or, “It’s no big deal.” In your mind, you might be trying to minimize the problem for your loved ones. However, in their minds, these statements may have the opposite effect. While you may be trying to put them at ease, you’re ultimately dismissing their feelings.   

DO: Show Compassion and Support

Instead of telling them how to feel, acknowledge their emotions. Part of providing support is to be there to listen to your loved ones. You want them to feel comfortable using you as a sounding board.

Remember: even if their worries sound irrational to you, they’re palpable to your loved one. Be empathetic.

DON’T: Force Loved Ones to Talk About Their Feelings

While you want them to feel like they can talk to you about their anxiety, you shouldn’t force them to do so. Although encouraging your loved ones to talk is a good idea, demanding that they share their innermost feelings could feel confrontational to theml.

Don’t take it personally if your loved ones aren’t ready to share their feelings. It’s difficult for many people with anxiety to open up, even if—and sometimes especially if—it’s to the people they love the most. While they may love us, they may feel as though we’ll be judgmental.  

DO: Consider Helping Loved Ones Find a Mental Health Professional

When trying to understand how to help someone with anxiety, remember that love, support, and a willingness to listen are the three most essential elements. However, you don’t have to be your loved one’s sole pillar of stability. In fact, because treating anxiety requires such a high level of sensitivity, it’s best to involve compassionate mental health professionals who know how to help someone with anxiety.

Is someone in your life struggling with anxiety? GBCC Counseling Centers can help. We offer both individual and telehealth group counseling for Maryland residents. Whether it’s in-person or virtually, we provide a safe, non-judgmental atmosphere. Call us today at 410-760-9079.