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 (nih.gov) and the Mayo Clinic (mayoclinic.com).
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.
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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