How to Help Someone with Anxiety 

Anxiety is the most common mental health problem in the United States. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, a whopping 18% of the population falls victim to this widespread, yet not often talked about, problem in our society. 

For myself—and roughly 40-60% percent of other students—anxiety became a part of our daily routine after trailblazing through one of the most stressful times in our young-adult life: college.

Though I was fortunate to have caring friends and family, I still hesitated to reach out for support when I needed it most.  I thought stress and anxiety were simply defining parts of the college experience, and that it would be something I could work out on my own.  I was intimidated to ask for help and open up to friends, but wanted nothing more. 

Despite the statistic that nearly 1/5th of the US struggles with anxiety, a stigma still lingers around the word itself, leaving those of us who identify with it not knowing how to talk about it and ask for the help we need. 

It is more than likely you know someone living with a clinically anxious mind—maybe you even fall into the statistic yourself. The fact that this disorder is so present in our everyday lives only reinforces the need for larger awareness for how to help those around us. 

Unless you’ve experienced anxiety firsthand, it can be hard to empathize with someone struggling through life with it. But a lack of personal experience doesn’t mean you’re unqualified to help—there are several ways to support a friend or family member by keeping these tips in mind:

  1. Ask first, act second. 

For many people, the thought of asking for help is anxiety-inducing in itself.  Asking someone with anxiety how you can help is the best thing you can do for them. Everyone channels their anxiety in a different way, thus there is not a simplified, fix-all, solution to this problem.

  1. Make listening a priority.

Sometimes silent, empathic support—whether a shoulder to cry on or a person to vent to—is more helpful than advice. While practical support is often appreciated, emotional support can be just as helpful. 

  1. Do your part to destigmatize.

The biggest fear I had in opening up to close ones was the fear that people would look at me differently. By reassuring them that you still see them as who they truly are, under the occasional mask of anxiety, they can feel more comfortable to be honest and open about what they are going through.  

  1. Encourage seeking professional help.

Going hand-in-hand with destigmatizing, talking about seeing a therapist can bring a somewhat-taboo topic into casual conversation. Only 1/3rd of people dealing with anxiety get the treatment they deserve. By encouraging loved ones to go to therapy, we can break the stigma against mental illness and improve this statistic altogether. 

  1. Be there for yourself, too. 

Helping someone else with their anxiety does not belittle any problems you face too, regardless of the title they fall under. Know that as a friend, there is only so much you can do, but even the smallest acts of help are appreciated. 

Together we can tackle the nation-wide problem of anxiety—simply starting by acknowledging it exists. Anxiety is a treatable disorder. And while professional help is recommended, those who suffer don’t always get the treatment they need, making help from those arounds us even more appreciated, and all the more necessary. 

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Sources:

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/seven_ways_to_help_someone_with_anxiety

https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/2018/12/how-to-help-someone-with-anxiety/

http://www.bu.edu/articles/2016/college-students-anxiety-and-depression

About the Author

Cameron Gordon Cameron Gordon is a student at the University of California at Santa Barbara pursuing a double major in English and Spanish. Both passionate about writing and promoting the importance of mental health, Gordon aspires to attain a career centered around writing and education.

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One Comment

Rick

Hi my girlfriend and I have beendating for 2 months.. We started out amazing great bond soul conection, emotional and sexual.. We climaxed on every level possible.. But then i would notice diatance or withdrawn. Or eben sadness. Idk.. She’ld start being different. Long and short of it is we fell in love ive never experinced love like this I’m 42 ive been in love with a couple people before and it awsome bit this was something totally amazing stuff ive never felt.. I was like blown away.. And she said shes never been in love at her age.. 49.. I new and still know she loves me.. But she gets upset of starts distancing her self then she starts pushing me away or she says she cant do this any more n I’m like wtf what did i do we talk and she tells me im too clingy or obsessing about her or I’m controlling or possesive or jealous or needy and then there’s time she says it at that she’s scared scared of me I don’t understand any of this because I don’t obsess about her I don’t not cleaning are you love to snuggle at night I’m not possessive I’ve never yell at her if never threatened her of never accused her of anything I’ve asked questions just to be curious cuz I want to get to know her and want to know what makes her be anxious what I do what I say or what I text how I talk I can barely raise my voice when she’s in a bad mood without her saying I’m yelling when I’m not yelling I am not understanding what is going on I am trying to figure out why they are the way they are I’m not perfect I can tell you that much but I’ve been through so many relationships that I have learned from everyone that I’ve been with and I quit being jealous I’m a little bit insecure sometimes but not bad I don’t see where the obsessiveness is just because when I’m not working I want to be with her but I give her her space but yes she tells me I don’t let her see her friends when I’ve never told her she couldn’t because she’s a grown woman and she does what she wants and I’ve never stopped her from doing what she wants is it me am I doing what I just need to know what I’m doing wrong or is it her she said she deals with anxiety depression she told me that she pushes everybody wait 6 weeks what’s been about 6 weeks she’s pushing me away she’s accuse me of being angry or upset or feeling certain ways when I’m not feeling that way I really hate text messages because it doesn’t there’s no way to express your emotions or her your feeling and a text so somebody doesn’t misunderstand the what you’re saying I love this woman Beyond anything I’ve ever felt before she’s always misunderstanding what I’m saying or taking it the wrong way on text messages and I would never hurt this woman I would never accuse her I would never stop her from doing what she wants to do or have her freedom and do whatever she wants to grown-ass woman she can do whatever she wants I just want to spend time with her but yes she feels like I’m being controlling obsessed clingy needy and I don’t know what I’m doing to make her feel like that

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