If someone in your life is experiencing anxiety, there are ways you can show support. While some of their fears might seem irrational to you, it’s important to validate their experience.
According to Joseph McGuire, PhD, a pediatric psychologist with Johns Hopkins Medicine, “With other medical illnesses, you may be able to see physical symptoms. But with anxiety, you don’t necessarily see what the person is dealing with. So it’s important to be sensitive to what the person with anxiety is going through, even if it doesn’t make sense to you.”
If you haven’t experienced anxiety yourself, it’s helpful to educate yourself about the subject. Find online sources you trust, read books that are well-researched or by authors who have gone through it themselves, or listen to podcasts on the topic. This can give you more of a sense of what your loved one is going through.
If the person is avoiding certain situations, don’t push them, but don’t enable them either. “Over time, if people continually avoid facing difficult situations, the anxiety grows and special requests for accommodations get bigger,” says McGuire.
Encourage your loved one to seek help from a mental health professional. You might do research to help them find the best options. Validate that what they are going through is a medical condition and not their fault. Check in on them. The most important thing is simply to show that you care.
If you are struggling with a mental health or substance use disorder, there is help and hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—specialize in co-occurring disorders. To learn more, call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.