The Highlands Eating Disorder Treatment Center Blog
How to Help Someone with Anxiety
January 18, 2017 by Highlands Treatment Center in Eating Disorder Treatment, Emotional Wellness, Recovery and Support All of us feel anxious from time to time—but for some, anxiety is much more than a feeling. Anxiety can be a true disorder, a mental health problem with debilitating effects. Those who struggle with clinical anxiety may sometimes feel isolated from those around them, as if their anxiety leaves them utterly alone. Of course, this is not true, yet it’s a feeling that can be profound and despairing. As the loved one of someone with anxiety, then, one of the best things you can do is reach out to show them that they are not alone—that they have your support, your empathy, and your concern.
What does that look like in practical terms, though? Here are a few tips and suggestions.
Caring for Someone with an Anxiety Disorder
First and foremost, let your loved one know that he or she can talk to you candidly, without fear of judgment. Make yourself available, and simply listen—even if your loved one is telling you the same thing over and over. You don’t have to fix anyone’s problems; just be there to hear them, and to show that you care.
Try not to get frustrated. Talking to someone with an anxiety disorder can sometimes be challenging, as what they are saying may be illogical—but remember: It’s not them. It’s their disease. Anxiety is a real mental health disorder, and an impairment to clear thinking.
Be willing to spend time together. Invite your loved one to join you for lunch, catch a movie, go for a bike ride, or whatever else. Remember that anxiety can be isolating, and your loved one likely fears being abandoned. Make sure they know that you’re not going to leave them alone. Invest in time together.
Don’t feel the need to directly ask them about their anxiety. In fact, it’s usually best not to bring it up at all. A question about their anxiety levels will simply remind them of their anxiety levels, and that can do more harm than good.
Be forgiving. Anxiety can mess up neurochemistry in a number of ways, and in some cases can make the individual more prone to irritability, more likely to fly off the handle. Again, it is important to remind yourself that you’re dealing with a disease.
Encourage your loved one to seek help. Therapy and other forms of treatment—including medication—can have a huge, positive impact. Let your loved one know that you care for them and want to see them get better, but don’t be too pushy about it.
Don’t set your expectations too high. Treatment can absolutely work, but it probably won’t work overnight. By expecting instantaneous results, you may be setting up yourself—and your loved one—for disappointment.
Celebrate milestones. Make note of the improvement you see in your loved one as he or she goes through treatment—and encourage them to feel proud of what they have done!
Be mindful of your own mental health. Caring for someone with anxiety is a difficult thing, and it can sometimes have a corrosive effect on your own mental health. We encourage mental health screenings to ensure that you are not jeopardizing your own health to take care of someone else.