Help Someone With Anxiety: Effective Tips and Strategies

Anxiety is very common in the United States. It affects up to 18% of the people. Some feel worried about things others might not understand. It can be hard to watch someone you love struggle with this.

Yet, you can help. Start by knowing what to look for. Learn how to best support your loved one. This way, you’re making a big difference in their life.

Key Takeaways

  • Anxiety affects up to 18% of the U.S. population.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication are the primary treatments for anxiety.
  • Early intervention is recommended, as delaying treatment can make recovery more challenging.
  • Substance abuse is more common among individuals with anxiety disorders.
  • CBT has been effective in reducing anxiety symptoms in the short term.

Understand the Signs of Anxiety

Seeing signs of anxiety is the first step in helping a loved one. There are three categories: physical signs, anxious thoughts, and anxious behaviors. Knowing these symptoms will help you spot when anxiety is high.

Physical Symptoms

Feeling dizzy, sweating, or getting sick? That’s your body’s anxiety signs talking. You might also feel restless, have trouble breathing, or get tired easily. Your body is reacting to stress.

Anxious Thoughts

Do you often think bad things will happen or worry a lot? That’s anxious thoughts. You may see things in extremes or believe everything goes wrong. These thoughts make the physical symptoms of anxiety worse.

Anxious Behaviors

Afraid of certain situations or always seeking assurance? These are anxious behaviors. You might doubt things often, feel angry in stress, or start doing certain things over and over. They’re ways some people use to handle anxiety symptoms.

Learning about anxiety signs helps you understand your loved ones better. With this knowledge, you can spot when they’re struggling and offer the right help.

Validate Their Feelings

It’s key to validate how your loved one feels. Don’t brush their anxiety off. Even if it seems small to you, it’s big to them. Instead, show you care and ask how you can help them feel better.

Showing you understand their anxious feelings is very important. This lets them know you really listen and care. Avoid making them feel like their worries are silly or wrong.

Validating StatementsInvalidating Statements
“I can see why that would make you feel anxious. That makes a lot of sense to me.”“Don’t worry so much, it’s not a big deal.”
“I know this is really hard for you right now. I’m here to listen and support you.”“You’re overreacting. It’s not that serious.”
“I understand why that situation would trigger your anxiety. Your feelings are valid.”“Relax, it’s going to be fine. You’re stressing over nothing.”

Validating their feelings shows them you care. It creates trust and a supportive bond. This can make your relationship stronger and their tough times easier.

Express Concern Appropriately

When you notice changes in your loved one’s behavior, like withdrawing from activities they used to enjoy, approach them with care. You could start by saying, “Hey, I’ve noticed you’re not going to [location] or other gatherings. What’s going on?” Then, see how the talk is going and ask if they need help.

By expressing concern about their anxiety in a kind way, you let them know you’re ready to listen. You’re showing you want to help without judging or making it seem like it’s not a big deal. This is about making them feel safe to talk about their anxiety with you.

Remember, they might not want to talk right away, so be patient. Let them know you’re there whenever they feel like sharing. Your gentle support can really make them feel understood and encouraged to get help.

Know When to Seek Professional Help

If your loved one’s anxiety makes life hard, they need to see professional help. It’s important to know when they need more than your help. The sooner they get treatment, the better their recovery chances are.

Treatment Options for Anxiety

The main treatment options for anxiety are therapy and medicine. Therapy teaches people to manage their anxiety and deal with hard times. Medicine can help with the symptoms of anxiety, both physical and mental.

Supporting During Treatment

Show you care when they are in anxiety treatment in simple ways. You can go to therapy together to learn how to cope. Remember to take care of yourself too. You should also suggest finding a new therapist if the current one doesn’t work well. Helping them through treatment can make a big difference.

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how to help someone with anxiety

To best support someone with anxiety, it’s key to know what they’re going through. Understand their symptoms and how it changes their life. Listen and ask questions to learn how their anxiety shows up.

Get a Good Understanding of Their Symptoms

Each person’s anxiety symptoms can be different. Some show it through defensiveness or being easily irritated. Others might feel anxious all the time or have physical signs like feeling dizzy. When you know these details, you can help in ways that fit them best.

Let Them Know You’re There for Them

Say you’ve noticed they’re anxious lately and want to offer your support. Letting them know they don’t have to face anxiety by themselves is huge. Show you care without judging. This can make them feel less alone and more understood.

Listen to How They Want to Be Supported

When you help someone with anxiety, listening is key. They might need help with tasks that make them anxious. Or just talking to them to take their mind off the worry. Having a chat and listening to how they want help is important. It helps you give the right kind of support they need.

Everyone feels and shows anxiety differently. Pay attention to what your friend or family member needs. They may need your support by listening or by doing activities together. By understanding how they want help, your support will mean a lot more to them. It can make them feel like you really get them.

How to Support Someone with AnxietyListening to Anxiety Needs
Understand their specific symptoms and triggersAsk how you can best provide support during difficult times
Offer to help break down tasks they’re anxious aboutBe open to trying different coping strategies they suggest
Provide distractions from anxious thoughts when neededAdapt your approach based on their changing needs over time
Be a compassionate listener when they need to talk it outRespect their boundaries and don’t force them to confront fears

Listening to what helps your loved one is super important. It lets you give the best emotional support possible. This kind of support can really help them deal with anxiety. And it can help them get on the path to feeling better.

Keep Lines of Communication Open

Staying in touch with someone who has anxiety is very important. Try to meet them often. This can really make a difference in how they feel.

It’s good to spend time with them one-on-one. This gives them a chance to share what’s bothering them. You can also keep in touch through phone calls, video chats, or texts. Checking on them weekly shows you care about them.

Practice Self-Care

Supporting someone with anxiety can be tough. Because of this, you must also take care of yourself. This includes talking to friends and family about your feelings. You should also think about getting help from a therapist. Taking care of your health, both physical and mental, is vital. Don’t forget to do things you love every week. This will help you stay strong and be there for your loved one.

Doing physical activity can make your body stronger and mind happier. Try to exercise for 30 minutes a day. This can be walking fast, swimming, or doing yoga. It’s also key to rest well, usually 7-8 hours each night. This helps you manage anxiety and stay healthy.

Taking time for self-care activities can help you feel better. Activities like writing, meditation, or being in nature lower stress. Skipping self-care could lead to more stress and feeling exhausted. Taking care of yourself makes you ready to support your loved one without overdoing it.

Watch what you eat and drink. A study in 2022 found that eating lots of processed food and sugar linked to feeling more stress. It’s good to cut back on things with caffeine. A balanced diet, with lots of veggies, fruits, grains, and fish, is best for you.

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Remember, looking after yourself isn’t selfish. It’s very important. By caring for yourself and your self-care, you can help your loved one better. You’ll be more able to support them as they face their struggles. Together, you can aim for a happier and healthier life.

Avoid Enabling Anxious Behaviors

All of us want to help our loved ones. We try to change what we do to keep them away from tough stuff. But this might just make their anxiety worse. If we always avoid the hard things, they won’t grow. They won’t master their fears. And their world will get smaller.

It seems right to not let them face their fears alone, to protect them. But, in the long run, this won’t help them really. It’s important they learn to deal with tough situations. Teaching them to be brave is better. This way, they can learn to handle their worries.

Enabling BehaviorsHealthier Alternatives
Modifying your own schedule or activities to accommodate your loved one’s anxietySuggesting gradual exposure to feared situations, with your support
Making excuses or lying to help your loved one avoid anxiety-provoking eventsEncouraging your loved one to communicate their concerns and work through them
Doing tasks or chores for your loved one to prevent them from experiencing anxietyGuiding your loved one to break down tasks into manageable steps

The main point is to stop avoiding what makes them anxious. Support them through tough times instead. It takes time and understanding to help them grow strong against their fears.

Don’t Dismiss or Minimize Their Feelings

What Not to Say

When you support someone with anxiety, don’t make their feelings smaller. Instead of saying “You’ve got nothing to be anxious about,” listen. Such words can make them feel not understood. They not minimizing anxiety and ignore the deep emotional struggles they feel.

Use listening skills. Showing you get their anxiety helps a lot. Say things like, “I can tell this is really getting to you.” Or, “I’m here for you if you need me.” It shows you care and support them, not push away their worries.

Unhelpful PhrasesEmpathetic Alternatives
“Just relax.”“I’m here for you.”
“There’s no need to worry so much.”“I know this feels really difficult right now.”
“You need to stop being so anxious.”“I’m listening, and I want to understand how you’re feeling.”
“Calm down, it’s not a big deal.”“Your feelings are valid. Let’s take a deep breath together.”
“You’re overreacting.”“I can see this is really upsetting you. I’m here for you.”

Not minimizing anxiety is key. Using caring words helps them share and feel better. This way, your loved one will feel safe talking about what not to say to someone with anxiety. And you both can overcome their struggles.

Discourage Substance Use as a Coping Mechanism

People with anxiety might try alcohol or drugs to feel better. But, this can cause more problems. They might get a drinking problem. If someone you love is using substances to cope with anxiety, tell them to try healthier ways. They could try mindfulness, meditation, or doing exercises.

There are ways to help them through this. Learning how to deal with problems without using drugs can be really effective. Things like mindfulness, making friends who don’t use drugs, and being thankful for what they have are good healthy coping mechanisms for anxiety.

Help from therapists and special programs is really important. They can help with both anxiety and drug problems. This is key for better results, especially for those with PTSD issues.


Helping a loved one with anxiety is all about being there and showing you care. It’s key to understand them and their anxiety signs. Support them to get professional help, and avoid actions that make anxiety worse. Also, don’t forget to take care of yourself too.

With the right steps, you can guide them toward a better life. This article has shown how understanding and being empathetic is vital. You should help them find the best treatments for their anxiety. Such support can be a great help in their journey to beat anxiety.

Showing someone with anxiety that you care is very important. Be patient, and ready to act when they need help. Dedicating time to care for yourself is also essential. This journey will be easier if you use the right methods and stay focused on their recovery. By doing this, you can make a positive change in their life.

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What are the physical symptoms of anxiety?

Lots of symptoms show someone is anxious. They can feel light-headed, sweat a lot, and feel sick. They might also be restless, have a hard time breathing, and get tired easily too.

What are some anxious thoughts associated with anxiety?

Anxious thinking can focus on the worst outcomes. People may worry a lot or think in extreme ways. They might also believe that something bad will happen every time.

What are some anxious behaviors linked to anxiety?

Those with anxiety may avoid things that scare them. They might ask for a lot of reassurance. They could also overthink or do things repetitively.

Why is it important to validate your loved one’s feelings about their anxiety?

It’s crucial to respect your loved one’s feelings about anxiety. Even if it doesn’t make sense to you, their feelings are real. Treating them with care is what matters most.

How can you express concern about your loved one’s anxiety in a positive way?

Seeing a change in someone’s actions can worry you. Talking to them kindly about it can help. Ask them what’s wrong at a calm moment.

When is it time to encourage your loved one to seek professional help for their anxiety?

If anxiety starts to really affect your loved one’s daily life, it’s time to seek help. This could be interfering with their work, school, or time with friends.

What are the two primary treatments for anxiety?

The main ways to treat anxiety are through talking with someone, like in CBT. Another way is with the help of certain medicines, usually antidepressants.

How can you support your loved one during their anxiety treatment?

Support during therapy is key. Asking what you can do, going to therapy with them, and taking care of yourself are great ways to help. If therapy isn’t right for them, finding another therapist is also good.

What can you do to better understand your loved one’s specific anxiety symptoms and needs?

Listen and learn about what your loved one’s anxiety feels like. Knowing their symptoms helps you support them better. Being aware helps you be there for them.

How can you let your loved one know you’re there to support them?

Tell them you’ve noticed their anxiety and want to help. This shows they are not alone and you’re there for them. Your support means a lot to them.

Why is it important to listen to how your loved one wants to be supported?

Listening to how they want help is key. They may need you to help them tackle what’s scaring them. Or sometimes, just being there to talk is enough. Understanding their needs is important for real support.

How can you keep the lines of communication open with your loved one who has anxiety?

Staying in touch with your loved one is vital. Seeing them, talking often, and checking on them can make a big difference. It shows you care and are there for them.

Why is it important to prioritize your own self-care when supporting someone with anxiety?

Helping someone with anxiety can be tough. Taking care of yourself is necessary. Talk about how you feel with others, keep healthy, and do things that make you happy regularly.

Why is it important to avoid enabling your loved one’s anxious behaviors?

It seems helpful to avoid what scares your loved one. But, this can make their anxiety worse. Helping them face their fears is more supportive and helps them overcome anxiety better.

What are some things you should avoid saying to someone with anxiety?

Don’t say things like “Stop worrying” or “There’s nothing to be scared of.” Listen instead. Showing you understand their feelings matters more than fixing everything.

Why should you discourage your loved one from using substances to cope with their anxiety?

Turning to alcohol or drugs can seem like an easy fix. But it brings more problems. Encourage them to explore healthier ways to handle anxiety instead.