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What To Say To People With Anxiety

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Who Does It Affect

Anxiety | 5 Things To Say to Someone with Anxiety

Social anxiety disorder is one of the most common types of anxiety disorders, and one of the most common mental illnesses. About 8% of people will experience symptoms of social anxiety disorder at some point in their life. Without treatment, social anxiety disorder can last for a long time. Unfortunately, many people never seek help for social anxiety disorder.

There are some groups of people at higher risk of experiencing social anxiety disorder:

  • AgeSocial anxiety disorder often starts sometime between childhood and teenage years. The majority of people with social anxiety disorder say that their symptoms started before they were 18

  • WomenWomen are more likely to experience social anxiety disorder than men

  • Other mental illnesses or substance use disorderMany people with social anxiety disorder have other mental illness like depression, panic disorder, bulimia nervosa and substance use disorders. However, social anxiety seems to appear before other mental illnesses.

Stop Worrying About It

“This response is unconstructive. It implies the person suffering from anxiety is choosing this response. It places the blame on the person struggling and also suggests they can freely turn it on and off like a light switch. That’s not how anxiety works. This seemingly helpful approach turns the relational dynamic to you against them. Instead, it should be both of you against the anxiety,” says Romanoff.

People with anxiety depending on what makes them anxious can help relieve it through meditation, eating right, getting enough sleep, and more. However, trying not to think about what’s causing them anxiety isn’t a proven relief method.

Dont Say: Why Arent You Seeing A Therapist/on Medication

Theres nothing wrong with showing concern for a friend, but be careful it doesnt come across as accusatory. Suggesting your friend should be doing something can create a sense of shame if they arent, or make them feel like theyre being judged. If they do need to see a mental health counselor or take medication, those are decisions they need to make on their own and at their own pace.

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Offer Support In A Helpful Way

When people receive treatment for anxiety disorders, their clinicians often give them homework assignments or coping mechanisms to help them manage their anxiety. It could be something like deep breathing, for example.

Some of what you offer is help focusing. I am here for you. What did the therapist say to do? Hudak said. Give support and redirection.

The Best Things To Say When Someone Is Anxious

Things to Say to People With Anxiety

Have you ever not known how to talk to someone with anxiety? This list of 69 ideas of what to say to someone with social anxiety helps you offer support, be a good listener, acknowledge that mental health is a real issue, and test that waters a bit to explore the negative thoughts that underlie social anxiety in your friend or family member.

Below is a list of 100 ideas of how to talk to someone with anxiety or what to say to someone with social anxiety.

  • This must be hard for you.
  • Its not your fault.
  • I am sorry you are going through this.
  • Tell me more about how you are feeling.
  • Its okay that you have to cancel, we can try to meet up another time.
  • Would you like to make plans just the two of us, instead of as a group?
  • I am here if you need me.
  • How can I help?
  • What are you feeling right now?
  • Would you like to go for a walk?
  • Take your time.
  • Would you like to talk?
  • Lets work through this together.
  • I know it feels bad now, but this feeling will pass.
  • I know you are not making this up.
  • I know that your anxiety is outside your control.
  • I love you no matter what.
  • Is there something we can do together that would be less overwhelming?
  • I want to know how I can best support you.
  • I know you have a real illness.
  • I know you cant control how you feel.
  • I care about you and want to help.
  • You are important to me.
  • It might not seem like it now, but how you feel is going to change.
  • You are not alone, I am here for you.
  • Talk to me, I will listen.
  • I am not going to abandon you.
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    Dont Shame Or Minimize

    Its pretty common to worry about having a panic attack, especially in front of strangers, or believe the attack might annoy or inconvenience friends or loved ones.

    People struggling with anxiety or panic attacks might intellectually understand the response is illogical. But hearing that from someone else can increase their isolation, Bingham explains.

    Avoid saying things like:

    • Just relax. Theres nothing to be afraid of.
    • Youre upset over that?
    • Whats wrong with you?

    You might not intend to make your friend feel ashamed, but denying the reality of their distress can certainly have that effect.

    Take Care Of Yourself Too

    Recognize that your goal is to help, not to cure the person or relieve them from their anxiety. Taking too much responsibility is actually a symptom of anxiety, so make sure youre not falling into that trap yourself.

    Keep in mind that your support doesnt need to be directly focused on anxiety. For example, exercise is extremely helpful for anxiety so perhaps you could simply offer to go for a walk or attend a yoga class together. Its also fine to put some limits on your support. A 20-minute de-stressing conversation while taking a walk is far more likely to be useful than a two-hour marathon discussion.

    Helping someone with anxiety isnt always easy and you may feel like youre getting it wrong. But, if you remind yourself that you and your loved one are both doing your best, it can help you keep things in perspective. Its important to remain compassionate and, as the saying goes, to put on your own oxygen mask first. That way, youll have a clearer head for figuring out whats going on with your anxious loved one and how you can truly be of help.

    Greater Good wants to know: Do you think this article will influence your opinions or behavior?

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    Social Anxiety Disorder In Children

    Young children usually dont know that they are experiencing anxiety. They just know that they have stomach aches, headaches or other physical symptoms of anxiety. Children also know that they just dont want to do certain activities. So children might express their anxiety by complaining about physical discomfort, avoiding social activities, refusing to go to school or acting out.

    What To Say To Someone With Anxiety Attack

    7 Reassuring Things To Say To Someone With Anxiety

    As a BetterHelp affiliate, we may receive compensation from BetterHelp if you purchase products or services through the links provided

    In this guide, we will discuss What to say to someone with anxiety attack and some of the things to avoid saying to someone who is potentially having an anxiety or panic attack.

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    Do Listen To How They Want To Be Supported

    When you ask the person how you can support them, listen carefully to their preferences. After all, you want to know how to help people with anxiety and support them. They may want help breaking down a task they are anxious about, they may want you to distract them from their anxious thoughts or they may just want someone to talk to.

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    What You Can Do To Help

    Once youve had a conversation and they know youre there for them, ask if they need support and let them know youre willing to help. You might suggest doing something fun together like working out, watching a show or movie and talking about it afterwards, or simply connecting by phone or facetime.

    As with any stressor, self-care can go a long way in helping with anxiety. If theyre feeling overwhelmed, here are some other things they can do to help: eat a good diet, exercise regularly, avoid drugs/alcohol, take breaks, lean on friends and family, and modify their environment to reduce stress like keeping their room or workspace clean and organizing and sticking to a routine or schedule.

    Listening to music or a podcast can also be calming or soothing, as can journaling, taking a walk, disconnecting from the news or social media, or performing some deep breathing or meditation. These apps or sites are a good place to start:

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    Starting And Ending Conversations

    INITIATING CONVERSATIONS. If its someone you know, even just a little, its often good to begin by free associating based on something you already know about that person. Turn that into an open-ended question, rather than a question that can be answered in one word, eg.: Hows your dog doing? How was that big trip you were planning? What do you have in store this weekend? If its a complete stranger, free associate based on what you can presume about the person given the setting or activity in which you are meeting. Again, open-ended questions are best to help the conversation flow: What got you interested in this activity? What restaurants would you recommend in this neighborhood? Hows that book youre reading? However things get started, make sure you then focus mindfully and with curiosity, and share what pops into mind in reaction to what they say.

    JOINING CONVERSATIONS. First of all, remind yourself that you are being friendly by joining their conversation. You are not breaking in or interrupting. Join the circle, listen mindfully and with curiosity to what they are saying, and share your free-associated reactions as soon as possible. Introduce yourself a little later, rather than at the start, so you are expressing interest in joining their conversation rather than interrupting it or taking it over.

    Why Cant You Be More Positive

    25 Things to Say to Someone Whose Anxiety Is Skyrocketing

    Anxiety isnt about negativity for many sufferers its a learned response from traumatic events which have caused us to feel as if we are constantly unsafe. When youve experienced trauma, these feelings make it incredibly hard to see the world optimistically.

    Telling someone to look on the bright side or see the glass as half full are tremendously patronizing when theyre hurting.

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    I Love You No Matter What

    Those of us with anxiety understand that being among our friendship group or family circle can be a nuisance. We are sure that it is sometimes infuriating having to go to the store after a full day of work because you are out of milk and your anxiety-ridden loved one has not been able to bring themselves to leave the house all day. Sometimes we worry that we have become too much of an annoyance for our friends and family, and that they do not care about us anymore. It is a great relief to be told I love you, no matter what, because that assures us that our anxiety will not stop people from caring about us.

    It is not always easy to work out how to best help somebody with anxiety, especially when they are going through a hard time. This list is intended to be a guideline, but as I said in my previous article, the best advice I can give is to learn what the individual anxiety sufferer finds helpful, and taking it from there. The important thing is to be compassionate. Believe me when I say that the anxiety-sufferer in your life will appreciate that compassion immensely.

    I Totally Know How You Feel

    Humans are generally quite empathetic and sympathetic creatures. We try to connect with others based on similarities including our emotions. However, your feelings are not that useful to a person who has anxiety.

    Even if you experience heightened anxiety challenges, it does not help an anxious person to hear that you have the same problem as them. This can be trivializing and drawing up comparisons of your own feelings or experiences may actually make them feel worse.

    Instead, acknowledge their struggles and say something like:

    I see that youre really worried about A, B, and C. Do you want to talk about it.

    For instance, say that a person is feeling incredibly anxious about an upcoming job interview and fear that they will bomb it. You should first acknowledge their feelings and validate them. Example: Yeah it makes sense you would have some worry about that. It seems like a big deal! Validating a persons feelings is helpful and normalizing when anxiety can make us feel like we are not normal. Simply letting someone who is afraid to know what they are dealing with makes sense is really helpful.

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    Even People With The Purest Intentions Can Really Make A Mess When They Try To Helphere’s What To Avoid And What To Say To Someone With Anxiety Instead

    You mean well, and thats obvious. Often for friends and loved ones, it can be really difficult to figure out what to say to someone who is anxious, says Sanam Hafeez, a neuropsychologist and faculty member at Columbia University in New York City. The natural instinct is to assure them that everything is fine and to minimize the problem in order to minimize the anxiety, but it just does not work, she adds. In your effort to provide reassurance and address their angst, its useful to know what not to say to someone with anxiety, lest you make things worse. More importantly, youll want to know what to say to someone with anxiety instead.

    Westend61/Getty Images

    Why Would You Be Anxious About That

    What to Say to Someone Struggling With Anxiety

    “This response implies that they should not be anxious and their response is unjustified. By saying this, you’re positioning yourself against the person, instead of aligning with them against their anxiety,” says Romanoff.

    Anxiety is a condition that often has causes beyond the person’s control. According to the National Institute of Medical Health, genetic factors, childhood trauma, and health conditions like heart arrhythmias or thyroid problems could contribute to the risk of developing an anxiety disorder.

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    Xi Jinping Tells Chinas Army To Focus On Preparation For War

    President says China in an unstable and uncertain security situation amid tensions over Taiwan

    Xi Jinping has told the Peoples Liberation Army to focus all its energy on fighting in preparation for war, a Chinese Communist party mouthpiece has reported.

    Pictures of Xi, who recently secured a third term as party leader, in his army uniform during a visit to a command centre featured prominently on the front page of the Peoples Daily on Wednesday.

    Xi said the army must comprehensively strengthen military training in preparation for war, having warned at a recent party congress of dangerous storms on the horizon.

    Focus all energy on fighting, work hard on fighting and improve capability to win, he was quoted as saying. The army must also resolutely defend national sovereignty and national security as China was in an unstable and uncertain security situation, he reportedly said.

    While Xi also ordered the army to focus on war preparation in 2013, soon after he took power, and again in 2017, political analysts say he has markedly stepped up his rhetoric this time. In a similar visit to the command centre in 2016, he told officers to be loyal and resourceful in fighting and courageous and capable of winning wars.

    This week a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson criticised the UK trade minister Greg Hands visit to Taiwan and told the British government to cease sending wrong signals to separatist forces for Taiwan independence.

    Always Comparing And Evaluating

    People with anxiety are always comparing and evaluating situations. They cannot help but compare themselves to people mostly their friends and family. They often feel like other people are much more successful than they are and they often overlook their own achievements. Since their benchmark of doing well is set by the others it makes it extremely difficult for them to remain positive and hopeful.

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    Match Your Support To Their Preferences And Attachment Style

    Its best to ask someone what type of support they prefer rather than guess! However, we know from research that people who have an avoidant attachment style are likely to respond best to strong displays of concrete practical support. That could include helping the anxious person break tasks down into manageable steps, or talking through specific options for how to deal with a difficult situation, like how to respond to an angry email, but still acknowledging their autonomy and independence while doing so.

    Other people are more likely to prefer emotional support, especially those who are securely attached, or who have a preoccupied attachment style due to a fear of being abandoned or of their emotions being overwhelming to others. Folks like this respond well to statements emphasizing that theyre part of a tight teamfor example, their supporter saying, This is tough but we love each other and well get through it together.

    Of course these are generalizations, and you need to tailor your support by observing what works in your particular situation. But when you have a very close relationship with someone, you can offer support based on intimately understanding your loved ones anxiety patterns.

    Youre Only Like This Because Its So Trendy To Be Anxious Right Now

    What To Say To Someone With Anxiety

    Anxiety disorders arent trendy theyre just incredibly common in fact, theyre the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older.

    Let me make this perfectly plain: being diagnosed with a mental illness is not trendy

    With some of the stigma surrounding mental illness starting to fade, more and more people are discussing their struggles with this debilitating condition.

    While I would never argue against this discussion, I can see how it may cause those with little understanding of anxiety to think this is nothing more that a passing fad.

    Let me make this perfectly plain: being diagnosed with a mental illness is not trendy. Its not tragically beautiful, romantic, fanciful or glamorous. Its a soul crushing, constant battle to reach a state of something even resembling normalcy.

    Furthermore, treating anxiety as a trend only adds to the confusion and misconstrued ideas that lead to mental illness stigma.

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