Someone You Love Has Anxiety—How You Can Help

In my post You aren’t crazy, you just have menopause anxiety , I talk about the need to communicate what is happening to you during an attack with your loved ones. Silver & Grace guest post author, Jill Green, expands on this with an entire list of advice for loved ones of anxiety sufferers.

If you love someone who suffers from severe anxiety or panic attacks, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and frustrated. You know they are in a lot of pain and struggle with aspects of life that you don’t quite understand. You want to help, but maybe you don’t know how to approach the situation. Here are 10 tips to help a loved one with anxiety.

1. Educate yourself. You want to learn as much as you can about panic attacks. There is a lot of helpful, free information available on the internet, and the more educated you are, the more supportive you can be for your family member. Two trusted and abundant sources of information are the National Institute of Mental Health ( and the Mayo Clinic (

2. Support them by being a good listener. Sometimes your loved one will need a shoulder to cry on or someone to vent their frustrations to, especially after a severe panic attack or while going through an anxiety provoking situation.

3. Assure them. Tell them it’s not their fault they have anxiety. They are not weak, worthless, or mentally ill. Let them know you believe in them and have every confidence that they can get better.

4. Be patient with them. Anxiety doesn’t just happen overnight, and anxiety treatment can take time as well.

5. Get help. Anxious people are often ashamed of their feelings, but keeping it a secret is not healthy. Encourage your loved one to talk to a doctor or therapist or try an anxiety self help program. For a list of recommended anxiety self help programs, click here.

6. Help yourself. Helping your loved one can take its toll on you and zap your energy. It is crucial that you remember to take good care of yourself with adequate rest, nutrition, and taking time out to do things you enjoy. Don’t let your loved one’s anxiety overtake your life.

7. Advocate for them. Put yourself in their shoes, try to learn what having anxiety really feels like, and appreciate the stigma of mental illness they are faced with out in the world.

8. Vent your frustrations appropriately. It’s okay and perfectly normal to feel upset, angry, frustrated. These are valid feelings in response to a very trying situation. Join a support group like families anonymous or an internet forum where you can vent your feelings to others who are in similar situations.

9. Don’t take it personally. Remember that an anxious person’s behavior is not indicative of who they really are. The anxious person has impaired social skills. If they are irritable or withdrawn, it’s because they feel bad about their anxiety. Remember it’s not about you, and it doesn’t mean they don’t love you.

10. Love them unconditionally. When they truly know you care, this is the best medicine of all.

Keep these tips in mind when you want to help a loved one with anxiety. As your loved one begins to get their anxiety under control, you can be their biggest champion. If you care about someone with anxiety, these are great ways to help.

More information

Jill Green is a 40 something, mom, wife, and recovering anxious person who no longer lives in fear of her next panic attack. To learn more, or to start your own recovery from anxiety and panic today, visit her anxiety self help blog.

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  1. Great advice, Jill! As someone who lives will a loved one with anxiety attacks, I have to agree with everything you have written, especially two things…take care of yourself and love them unconditionally. It has been my experience that these are two components many of us forget to do or express.

    For the caregiver, journaling is an excellent way to “de-stress.” It is also a great tool to use for the person with anxiety. Often, getting the monkey mind onto paper allows us to find peace.

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom!
    Linda Rhinehart Neas´s last blog post ..Words Connect Us to the World

    • @Linda – I can see it would be very easy to slip into frustration at a loved one at times. Thanks for reiterating the need to love unconditionally. I’m a big journal-er when it comes to sorting out my thoughts. Just doing the dump on paper is enough for me. I rarely go back and read what I have written.

  2. I wish its that easy… I am married to an alcoholic and was recently diagnosed with OCD. he often experience anxiety attacks if I leave and go someplace without him or our daughter goes someplace without us. He tends to alcohol most of the time and I am just devastated inside. You see, my husband rarely talks about his problems and more often I just sit silent, being anxious about him myself. I feel there are no words to calm him down or to make him feel better. You said in your post that love is the best medicine, but how? how can you show you love someone if he just focuses on whats missing and just embraces the panic attacks.

    I wish its that easy… loving someone with ocd and anxiety attacks is also very frustrating… :(

    • @secret – thank you for sharing this side of the relationship. I in no way profess to be trained counselor, but this statement jumped out at me “I feel there are no words to calm him down or make him feel better” as it can changed to “There ARE no words to calm him down or make him feel better”. Having lived with someone for over 14 years with his own anguishes, I came to accept there was nothing I could do or say to make him feel better. That was entirely up to him;that was his journey. The trick was to live my life to make ME feel better; that was my journey. It absolutely is not easy, as you say.


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