How to Care for an Anxious Loved One

When your loved one has anxiety, you may not know how to help them. Seeing them suffer makes you feel down. But at the same time, you realize that you can’t push them into situations they aren’t ready for. Furthermore, while your friendship is undoubtedly a boon for them, simply being their friend won’t cure their anxiety.

Supporting a loved one with anxiety can be challenging at times. But people who are grappling with mental health conditions need to lean on their friends and family more than ever. However, just because you can’t heal them on your own doesn’t mean that you can’t help them along their own healing journey. Here are a few ways to help a close friend or family member dealing with anxiety.

Understand Their Stressors

First, it’s important to understand what triggers tend to set off your loved one’s anxiety. You might think that as a friend, it’s your duty to help them get used to these scenarios. But that’s not necessarily true. While exposure therapy is one form of treatment for anxiety, it is not for everyone. It’s also an approach that should be handled by a professional. But knowing your loved one’s triggers will allow you to give them extra support when you recognize that they’re having a rough day or they’re heading into a situation that will likely cause them undue stress.

Be Patient

Yes, friendship should always be a two-way street—but there may be moments when you have to give your loved one some grace. Sometimes, your friend might need some extra time to process information or prepare themselves for an event or outing. Occasionally, they might have to exit a social situation or other commitment due to severe anxiety symptoms or a panic attack. Try to be patient when your loved one needs it, and remember that if you’re ever in the same scenario, you would want them to do the same for you.

Ask What They Need

What if you’re not sure how to help your friend? Maybe you don’t fully understand what symptoms they’re dealing with. Or perhaps you worry that something you assume will be beneficial could hurt them and worsen their symptoms. Sometimes, instead of guessing what your loved one needs, it’s best to simply ask. Going right to the source is the most straightforward solution. Your loved one’s answers might surprise you! You can make supportive decisions based on their feedback by asking your loved one explicitly about their needs.

Be Encouraging

Perhaps your friend has told you they’re interested in doing something that will push them out of their comfort zone. Be enthusiastic! Tell them you’re excited for them, and remind them that they’re capable of doing whatever they want. If they’re trying an activity you have experience with, you may want to give them some advice. But try not to overwhelm them with feedback. It’s important for your loved one to embrace their independence, make decisions for themselves, and even learn to cope with failure.

Support Them in Therapy

Depending on your relationship with your loved one, they may want you to attend therapy sessions with them. For example, if you’re a parent whose child has anxiety, they may be nervous about going to therapy alone. If your significant other is struggling with anxiety, it could be a good idea to explore both individual and couples therapy options.

Are you or a loved one struggling with anxiety? Working with a therapist can help. Reach out to us today to discuss your options for scheduling your first session for therapy for women.