Those living with anxiety and those living with people who have anxiety need support. Coping with anxiety yourself or for someone else who is important to you can be terrible.
The biggest gift that you can give people living with an anxiety disorder is support.
Anxiety disorders are the most treatable but most misunderstood of Mental Illnesses. Additionally, anxiety disorders are on the rise. This is not surprising, given the state of affairs of the world we currently live in.
The terror threats, the rise of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the increased academic demands on children today are a few of the biggest reasons for the increase of anxiety disorders in adults and children.
The truth is that those who have anxiety disorders and those close to them are more often blamed and judged. This is the polar opposite of what they need.
Let me let you in on a little secret. The biggest mistake most people make that prohibits them from effectively supporting those with anxiety, is that they think they must understand what the people living with anxiety are going through.
The truth is support does not require understanding; support requires a lack of blame or judgment.
Anxiety disorders are tough to cope with and manage for both those affected by the anxiety and those close to the people living with the disorder.
The best way you can support somebody living with anxiety is to ask them what they need and to let them know you are there for them unconditionally. Additionally, remember an anxiety disorder is a real medical diagnosis just like high blood pressure or diabetes. People with anxiety, do not do it to themselves. Anxiety makes people feel miserable, and if they could, they would do anything to change it.
Another way you could adequately support someone coping with anxiety is to listen, and to try genuinely to hear things from their perspective. Again, you don’t have to understand their perspective; you just have to validate and appreciate their point of view.
The best way to support those helping others with an anxiety disorder is also not to blame or judge, but rather listen. Let them vent to you, and then provide unconditional support. Understand that if they could do anything to change the situation, they would do it. It’s frustrating to watch a loved one be in pain and to know there is not much you can do if anything to fix it or make the pain go away.
Remind those living with anxiety and their loved ones, that this is not their fault. Allow them to have a safe place to fall, and a safe place to turn to. Do not shame them into feeling like they have to hide or handle this on their own. Let them know that they are not in this alone. The worst part of dealing with an anxiety disorder is the feeling of loneliness.
Remember this: to support does not mean you need to understand. To support means to ask what is required, and then doing your very best to provide that.