What Your Support Actually Means For Someone Going Through Anxiety
Dealing with anxiety is not easy.
It has an adverse effect on the people who experience it, and those around them. Knowing someone with anxiety prompts us to reach out and help. However, we end up finding ourselves unaware of how exactly we can aid them to get out of the situation. Showing support to people suffering from anxiety is important. Although this might not be a physical condition, it also isn’t something that can be cured purely by logical reasoning. People going through anxiety requires special treatment and attention. For us to be able to show support to friends and family going through such a difficult phase, understanding what anxiety is, as a disorder, is an essential step.
What is an anxiety disorder?
Anxiety and stress are normal among human beings, especially when faced with stressful situations, such as taking an examination, meeting new people and moving to a new town.
However, if someone has excessive anxiety and stress which hinders them from performing their daily activities, then there might be a problem.
People with anxiety can continuously experience overwhelming worry and fear. There are different kinds of anxiety disorders such as agoraphobia, anxiety disorder, and selective mutism to name a few.
What causes an anxiety disorder?
Researchers cannot pinpoint the exact cause of an anxiety disorder. But just like other mental illnesses, it stems from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. A study by the National Library of Medicine concludes that people who experienced child abuse or has a family history of mental disorder are more likely to have anxiety disorder when they grow up.
Here are some tips to help in supporting your loved ones who has anxiety:
As stated earlier in this article, there are several types of anxieties. Once you know what specific type of anxiety your friend or family has, use different resources available to educate yourself about its symptoms and effects.
- Check out articles and forums about this issue online. Most of these are free so go ahead and take little steps in learning more about anxiety.
- Gather all necessary information to help you find ways on how you can help your loved ones ease their pain.
- Encourage your loved ones to shake off their anxiety by integrating more physical activities to their daily routine such as:
- Exercise together or try out any physical activities
- Join a yoga class and meditate together
- Talk about the things that make your friend feel anxious at least one hour per week
People with anxiety can often sound like a broken record – they usually talk about the same topics over and over again without them even noticing. The things they shared with you yesterday on how their stress levels are getting the best of them, might be the very same scenarios they will tell you in the next two days. In these situations:
- You have to understand that even if you see their struggle, the sufferer doesn’t.
- Remain patient and always listen. This may appear like a complicated task to do. However, in this little way, you can slowly lessen the weight of their load.
Reassure that everything will be okay
There are certain types of anxiety which require aggressive reassurance for the sufferer to feel calm. For instance, a partner who has interpersonal anxiety might ask you, “Do you promise to love me no matter what?” or a random “Do you still love me?” These strong responses can create intense emotions and feelings from the sufferer. All of these are normal for someone who is suffering from an anxiety disorder and does not mean that they are needy or hopeless.
- If you notice these patterns, reassure them that everything will be okay.
- Come up with ways that can help minimize episodes like these.
Always be available
Let your loved ones know that you are there for them. This will make a significant difference in their recovery.
- Create an environment which will make it easier for them to communicate how they feel.
- Never forget to tell them that you are always available for them whenever they need someone to talk.
- Reassure them that you are not there to judge them or the things they do because of their anxiety
- Let them feel that you are there to show support.
Encourage them to seek professional help
Although self-help paves a long way towards your friend’s recovery, do not expect that this alone will do the trick.
- One of the best solutions is to access a therapist who specialized in anxiety disorders.
- You can still show support by asking the sufferer how the session was, or helping them with therapy homework such as doing thinking exercises together.
Regardless of the amount of their progress, let them know that you are happy with what they are engaging themselves with.
There are more than five ways to show support to someone who is suffering from anxiety disorder. Find an approach that you find manageable for you and your loved one.
No matter what you decide to do, keep in mind that results vary in every person. The important thing is, you are supporting the sufferer in whatever they choose to do – you’ll never know, your support could be one of the biggest reasons for their complete healing. We hope you enjoyed our TG Psychology article.
Todd Griffin is the Director and Principal Psychologist at TG Psychology, in Penrith, NSW. He has over 14 years of experience working with adults and young people in both public health and private practice settings. He has treated people from diverse cultural backgrounds, with a variety of emotional health and behavioral issues, including: depression, anxiety, relationship issues, anger, addictions, trauma and grief. He has also facilitated a number of group programs, treating a wide range of issues: from quitting cannabis, to social skills training, self-esteem development and deliberate self-harm behaviors.