If someone close to you is suffering from clinical anxiety, it can be difficult to know how best to help or support them. While therapy can do a lot to help someone alleviate their symptoms and learn to manage their anxiety, those with anxiety are able to recover faster and experience better outcomes when their loved ones provide additional support. In this article, psychologist Dr. James Campbell will provide a few tips on how you can support a loved one struggling with anxiety.
- Provide Validation- One thing you can do to support someone with anxiety is offer them validation for their feelings. If someone is anxious about something, it won’t help to downplay the cause of their anxiety or try to dismiss it–saying things like, “I can’t believe you’re getting upset over something that’s not a big deal,” will usually make the person feel worse. Instead, you can validate that their feelings are real, while supporting them in confronting their fear–”I know that you’re feeling really scared right now, but I’m here to help you.”
- Express Positive Concern- Another thing you can do to support a loved one with anxiety is learn to express your concerns in a positive way. If you’ve noticed that your loved one is starting to withdraw from or avoid certain situations, you can ask why, while making sure to communicate that you aren’t judging them and want to help. For example, you can start by sharing the observation–”I’ve noticed that you seem to be avoiding going to social gatherings lately”–and then gently ask about what might be causing this behavior change.
- Encourage Therapy- If your loved one isn’t already seeing a therapist for their anxiety, then something else you can do to support them is encourage them to seek out this additional help. Going to a trained psychologist–for example, coming here to the office of Dr. James Campbell, LLC–is a great way that people suffering from anxiety can learn effective tools for managing and alleviating those symptoms.