How to help a friend that suffers from anxiety?
Anxiety disorders are quite more common among us than we realize. And it might happen for us to be close to someone who’s suffering from an anxiety disorder. How can we help them? Both your friend and I would like you to know these things first:
1. Learn about anxiety. You’ll never be able to help your friend right if you don’t know the first thing about this disorder. Search the internet, read a few books. Once you’ve been informed look for the symptoms of anxiety. It may be that your friend might not even know that they suffer from this disorder.
2. Understand that anxiety is not something you get over one and for all. It’s something you battle with every day. There will always be days when your friend might feel a little less anxious, but that does not mean they will not experience it again. Be gentle and caring to your friend; do not pressure them to just get over it.
3. Understand that you and your friend might not feel fond the same way about different social gatherings or interactions. Mental health issues are all about understanding and helping. People suffering from anxiety often tend to avoid big social gatherings, as they do not enjoy being in the eyes of many. Unless they feel comfortable doing so, do not force them to go somewhere with you just because you think it will be fun. What might seem fun to you might not be fun to them, so make sure it’s okay with them when making plans to go somewhere.
4. Be clear. Whenever having an argument never let room for doubt or over thinking. You shouldn’t be doing this to anyone, but especially to someone suffering from anxiety. This person already thinks too much; don’t give them another reason to do so. Something else you need to be clear on is the plans you make when meeting up. When planning to hang out, give them the exact details long before the day of the hang out. Tell them the time, the place and what you might be doing. As important as letting your friend know all of this, it’s also important to keep your word. Don’t show up late and don’t change any detail on a short minute notice. If there’s something your friend might want, it’s to know exactly what they will be doing that afternoon.
5. Learn to not get bothered by their mumbling when they’re anxious. When they feel their anxiety rising, they are most likely to start talking a lot in order to hopefully get some of their stress out. I advise you to get used to that (it’s likely to happen a lot) and even though you might be, try not to show signs of annoyance. In these moments what you should be doing is listening(6) to what they’re saying, meanwhile show them that you’re paying attention. When they’re done expressing themselves, comfort them by reassuring them that things are going to be alright.
7. Wait. When asking for something, give them time to think. Even though you might want an instant answer, give them a bit of a time to think about it quietly. Never pressure them. Their anxiety already puts a lot of pressure on them; they don’t need other pressure.
8. Learn how to deal with panic attacks. Again, do some research. However since everyone is different; you should also be asking your friend on what you can do during those times.Know(9) that it is a disorder that is present in your friend, not you. That means that things have to go their way, not yours. You have to help them in a way that is comfortable for them, and not in a way what you think is best. Of course, you can always discuss it with your friend, but you can never be doing something that they do not fully agree with.
10. Have a code word. One of the best ideas ever is having a code word. The “code word plan” works like this: you both agree on a code word and your friend can use that word whenever they feel a panic attack coming, or when they’re in a situation that makes them feel anxious or uncomfortable. A code word is a great idea because sometimes you are not able to tell when a panic attack is starting. When your friend tells you the code word it makes it easier for both of you. You might even be able to catch it in time and not let the situation get out of control.
11. Love them. Remember that your friend needs a lot of love, especially coming from you.