How to Help Manage a Loved One’s Anxiety
It’s hard to watch a loved on suffer from anxiety. You know they’re miserable, but don’t know how to help. Do you jump in and reassure them everything is alright? Do you accommodate their requests to avoid situations or tell them to “buck up.” What should you do when you feel frustrated?
When a friend or loved one suffers from anxiety, it can be intimidating or frustrating trying to help them cope. Panic and anxiety attacks can leave the anxiety sufferer feeling any number of symptoms, and you may feel helpless and unable to support them. Here are some tips to help you manage a loved one’s anxiety.
Let your loved one know that you’re there to listen. Hold back judgment or unwanted advice, and simply be an ear. It will help them to know that they can speak to you openly, and that it’s okay to be repetitive with fears or thoughts. Let them know that they can call or text you any time to talk.
Don’t Bring It Up Too Often
It might seem counter-intuitive to avoid the topic of anxiety with your loved one, but simply talking about anxiety or panic attacks may trigger an episode for someone who suffers with this disorder. It’s fine to ask how they’re doing or discuss their anxiety if they want to, but make sure that they bring the topic up to you.
Spending time with a close friend or loved one can be very beneficial for the anxiety sufferer. Exercise and outdoor activities are especially helpful; sunlight and exercise are well-documented mood boosters. If you’re both being entertained, are out having fun, or just hanging out talking over coffee, this meaningful distraction keeps their mind off of their anxiety and on the activity.
You may struggle to empathize with your friend or loved one, or you may have difficulty comprehending what it means to suffer with anxiety. Anxiety disorders are not just psychological, they’re also chemical. Your loved one may understand that it’s not logical for them to feel fear or anxiety about something, but you can’t expect them to control their anxiety with that same knowledge. It will take time and a concerted effort on their part, but anxiety is a treatable condition.
Make an effort to express pride in your loved one when you notice improvements. Acknowledgement of positive change after they have put in some hard work will be both beneficial and encouraging to their recovery.
Beginning Treatment for Anxiety
It’s scary to ask for help. We know it’s hard to pick up the phone, make the call and then walk into our office. You may choose to help your loved on craft an e-mail to us or even to come with them to the first appointment and sit in the lobby. You can assure your friend or family member that our office is a safe space. We offer a welcoming environment and caring mental health professionals.
If you or a loved one is suffering with anxiety or panic disorder and needs professional guidance from a licensed therapist, please contact my office today so we can set up an appointment. We have several skilled therapists with experience providing counseling services for anxiety. We would be happy to talk to you about the potential benefits of counseling for anxiety. Each of our therapists is trained in at least one evidence based treatment for anxiety and takes a slightly different approach to therapy, so our intake coordinator will work with you to determine which therapist is the best fit. Healing starts here.
Jessica Tappana, LCSW is the founder, director and a therapist at Aspire Counseling in Columbia, MO. She began Aspire Counseling in May 2017 to provide mental health services to individuals in the Mid Missouri area looking for healing from trauma, grief, anxiety and overwhelming stress. The practice now has several therapists and serves primarily ages 12 through retirement. Jessica values providing clients with a safe space that promotes healing and only brings on therapists who share her vision of providing counseling by getting to know you as an individual and then providing treatments that work. If you’re interested in beginning your healing journey, you will find a safe and inviting space in our office.