When a friend or loved one is always anxious, you want to do something. The big question you face is how to help someone with anxiety. Since there’s no obvious injury, you can’t put a bandage on it or get them an ice pack.
Yet, they're obviously in real emotional and physical distress. Don’t give up, or assume they’re hopeless. There are things you can do, and things you shouldn’t do which will prove helpful.
Don’t Expect Them to "Logic" Their Way Out of It
Anxiety isn’t a problem with someone’s reasoning ability. People with anxiety often know that their fears are irrational or are out of proportion. Most of them will say things like, “I know it doesn’t make sense for this to make me anxious, but it does.”
Giving them logical reasons on how to overcome anxiety won’t help. Logic alone can’t change chemical and physical reactions.
A few common symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Racing heart
- Muscle tension
- Sweaty palms
- Problems concentrating
Expecting logic to fix those symptoms is like expecting logic to cure a cold. It’s not only unreasonable, but also doomed to fail.
People with anxiety are constantly bombarded by well-meaning advice to calm down or take a breath. That's not how to help someone with anxiety. Instead, it makes the person feel judged, which only makes the anxiety worse.
Tell the person that you understand he or she can’t control the anxiety and that it isn’t his or her fault. Acknowledging that the anxiety isn’t something they’re doing, but something they’re enduring can help relieve them. Whenever possible, acknowledge your own experiences with similar thoughts.
Keep an Eye on Their Alcohol Consumption
Anxiety is debilitating for some people, and drugs or alcohol can relieve the symptoms. The problem is that it’s only a temporary fix. Drug and substance abuse can make the anxiety worse over time. To avoid the worsening symptoms, the person drinks more and more until drinking becomes its own problem. One answer to how to help someone with anxiety is to intervene before the drinking gets out of control.
How to Help Someone with Anxiety: Encourage Them to Seek Treatment
This is probably the best answer to how to help someone with anxiety. No matter how good your intentions, you probably aren’t trained to help someone manage their anxiety. Even if you have training, you’re too close to the situation. What they need is an objective therapist or an emotional stability program at a high-quality rehab center.
The mental health treatment centers can offer a range of options, such as:
- Group work
- Dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring disorders
- Substance abuse programs, if alcohol or drug use is a problem
Helping someone with anxiety is often hard because it’s not something they choose. It’s something that is happening to them like a disease. You can help them by being accepting, not expecting logic to fix it, and watching out for substance abuse. Most of all, you can help by encouraging them to seek help from professionals.
About The Clearing
Located on San Juan Island in Washington State, The Clearing offers dynamic mental health and addiction treatment options grounded in Spiritual Psychology.
Our residential rehab program in Washington offer numerous benefits, including:
- Secluded environment that's only accessible via ferry
- Small group sizes (no more than 10 people at a time)
- 120 hours of counseling, which is the equivalent of two years of counseling compared to other rehab centers
- Non 12 Step rehab programs that gives individuals the best chance of lasting recovery
Don’t let anxiety run the lives of your friends and loved ones. If you have questions about how to help someone with anxiety, call The Clearing today at 425-275-8600.