Dealing With Anxiety Disorder in a Loved One

By Anne Ahira

When someone you love has an anxiety disorder, it can be extremely difficult to watch them suffer from this illness as well as frustrating when it comes to knowing what you can do to help them.

Sometimes family and friends who mean well, in reality do not help at all and can sometimes make the anxiety or its symptoms worse.

Anxiety disorders can be difficult to understand for those who have never experienced them, but there are some things you can do as well as avoid doing in helping them cope with their condition.

Things to avoid when attempting to help a Loved One with an Anxiety Disorder

When trying to help a loved one with an anxiety disorder, try and avoid saying things to them like “Don’t worry” or “Just relax”.

An anxiety disorder is a mental illness and therefore the sufferer essentially has very little control over their feelings of worry or anxiety and they can not just “turn them off”.

However, some may have more control over these feelings when undergoing treatment for their disorder or having learned the various coping skills through therapy.

The well meant intentions of these statements can actually make the anxiety worse as it calls attention and puts a focus on their inability to control their feelings of worry or fear.

Avoid being judgmental and show your support by not minimizing your loved ones feelings as it will take them some time – even when receiving treatment- to gain control over their anxiety.

Often times without realizing it, a loved one with good intentions can offer too much help such as taking over control and doing tasks which the individual can do for himself.

This can create dependence where the individual may feel that the companion or friend is what they need to relieve the symptoms of their anxiety when in reality individuals who suffer from anxiety disorders need to learn internal coping skills in order to gain control over their illness.

How you can Help Your Loved One Cope with Anxiety

The first thing that you can do to help a loved one who is suffering from anxiety that appears to be negatively affecting their life is to persuade or encourage them to seek professional help or get a medical assessment if that have not already done so.

Anxiety disorders should not be self-diagnosed and can not be treated on there own and typically need both medical treatment and psychological therapy to overcome this illness.

If your loved one is receiving treatment, help them by getting them to stick with their treatment plan and keep all scheduled appointments.

You should also take the time to educate yourself on the specific type of anxiety disorder your loved one has. This will give you a better understanding of what they are going through and also give you the knowledge of what to expect when they are going through the treatment or recovery process.

While you can help and support a loved one with an anxiety disorder, it is also important to remember that you have limitations too, and you should ensure that you take care of yourself and avoid becoming over stressed.

It can be very beneficial to set up a support network of other family and friends to share in the responsibilities.

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