Helping someone you love
The first step in helping your loved one is to encourage her to seek treatment. Too many people with anxiety disorders suffer needlessly, when treatment is available. It can be hard for someone with an anxiety disorder to acknowledge that there’s a problem to others or even to themselves. Many people with anxiety disorders work very hard at coping and don’t realize that they are not alone and that there is help available.
Once your loved one is in treatment, recovery can take some time as she learns to respond in new ways to feelings of anxiety.
To help your loved one, you can:
- Learn about anxiety disorders to have a better understanding of what your loved one is experiencing
- Learn what triggers anxiety in your loved one and be flexible to help her learn how to better handle and approach these triggers
- Offer emotional support, understanding, patience, and encouragement
- Listen to the feelings and stories your loved one shares; she may need to talk through them many times; don’t push for information or details
- Plan positive activities that keep your loved one engaged with the world, such as walks, outings, getting back to work, and other activities
- Do not force your loved one into doing things she is not willing to do; encourage her to approach things she is afraid of without being negative or pressuring
- Remind your loved one that with time, support, and treatment, she can get better
If someone in your family has an anxiety disorder, it can be helpful to get family counseling, particularly for families who have a young child with an anxiety disorder. The whole family can learn more about the anxiety disorder, learn to recognize symptoms early if they recur, and learn how to support the family member in his recovery. For instance, family members of someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder may need to learn how to stop participating in the compulsive rituals and behaviors in order to help their loved one make progress.