Supporting a Loved One with Anxiety

Voices of Anxiety is not only a resource for those living with anxiety; it is also a resource for partners, friends and family members impacted by anxiety. We are diving into a two-part blog series dedicated to those with anxiety and the individuals who support their anxious loved ones.

We will first discuss providing support for those actively experiencing anxiety by way of a panic episode or another form of anxiety. Please note, I use active anxiety to parlay the role of heightened anxiety as I understand we live with anxiety in our everyday lives, but experience increased bouts of anxiety during difficult or stressful times in our lives. In part two of this blog series, we will discuss how to ask for help when going through a heightened state of anxiety. 

For those who want to offer support to a loved one, please check in with the anxious individual before making suggestions- telling them to calm down or take medication as a way to help can make one's anxiety worse, for some. 

Ways to offer support: 

1. Ask before your loved one is experiencing heightened anxiety how they like to be supported. Your loved one may not want to talk about these things during a time of high anxiety. For me, I sometimes experience shame when I am having a panic episode because I feel I should have a better hold on my anxiety, therefore, I know communicating during a panic episode is off the table as I am focusing on calming myself down.

2. Research, if your loved one is going through a tough time with anxiety research anxiety centers, therapies and things to help alleviate their anxiety. After they have experience anxiety or the panic episode and you believe they are okay to talk, offer some resources and things you discovered during your research. Please note, this is something to be approached lightly and if the individual experiencing anxiety is not open to it, don't get discouraged, it may take some time for them to be open to talking about their anxiety. 

3. Keep an open mind and heart. Show and communicate your love. This may sound like a no-brainer, but often anxious people have been shamed and isolated due to their anxiety. Sometimes all we need is to know someone is there and won’t judge us for having a mental health condition. Showing up can and does mean the world to us! 

These are just a few suggestions and should not replace the guidance of a mental health professional. There is a multitude of ways to offer support and it’s not a one size fits all approach. 

Do you or someone you love experience anxiety? Let us know how you offer support in the comments!