You are here: Home » Family » 7 Ways to Support a Family Member Struggling With Anxiety

7 Ways to Support a Family Member Struggling With Anxiety

Support family member who has anxiety

It can be challenging to support a family member struggling with anxiety, especially if you are concerned that your words or actions could worsen their condition. Nevertheless, if they have trusted you enough to confide their fears in you, chances are they trust you will know how to behave appropriately around them. Or in other words, they believe you to have what it takes to help ease their worries.

Knowing they have someone to watch over them or simply hold them when they are at their worst is often enough to reassure individuals suffering from an anxiety disorder they can get through it all. But, if you are still looking for specific ideas, below are ways to support them.

How to Support a Family Member Struggling With Anxiety

Anxiety is an illness. A serious one at that. As such, it needs to be treated, or else there’s a risk of developing depression or another mental condition.

Those prone to anxiety attacks often feel a sense of shame and are embarrassed to ask for help. That’s why it’s crucial, if not for them, for their loved ones to pay close attention to their behavior and seek a professional diagnosis the moment they notice something strange may be going on. With professional treatment, it’s possible to come out of this battle a winner, regardless of how grim everything may seem.

While the treatment will mostly depend on the individual struggling with anxiety and their therapist, that’s not to say there isn’t anything you can do to aid their recovery. May the following seven ways prove to you that you can, indeed, help your family member cope.

1. Understanding Anxiety

You can’t expect to support a family member struggling with anxiety if you don’t know what it is and how it works. Before getting into the details, let’s draw a line between anxiety and anxiety disorder.

While similar, the difference between the two lies in the frequency and severity of anxious episodes. For instance, there’s a high probability that you, too, have felt anxious at one point. We all have. But those battling anxiety disorder are feeling that way constantly. Fear is deeply rooted in their psyche, and shaking it off isn’t as simple as it sounds.

Merely reading about it won’t give you the slightest idea of what such a person is going through. But to paint a better picture, anxious episodes could be so severe that they interfere with a person’s life. As a result, some people can even refuse to leave their homes, eat, and have trouble sleeping and thinking.

Anxiety occurs due to the body’s fight or flight response, which further triggers the release of stress hormones. As a result, various physiological bodily reactions are triggered, like increased sweating and heart rate. Although anxiety attacks are commonly thought to be caused by an adverse event, in most cases, they appear entirely out of the blue.

Since there’s no clear explanation for what leads to an anxious episode, reassuring the person there’s nothing to stress over won’t do them any good. Instead, simply being there for them through it all is the key to their coping.

2. Realize No One Experiences Anxiety in the Same Way

Each person experiences anxiety differently. For example, some may become irritable because of it, while others could become isolated.

That’s why you must comprehend how anxiety manifests in your loved one if you want to offer support. Examine their behavior during one of the episodes.

You can even pick their brains about it during the moment of peace, as they may be able to tell you which behavior they believe is directly caused by anxiety. Once you understand how the condition affects their demeanor, you’ll be able to respond better.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

If your family member has already admitted to feeling anxious, you are one step closer to helping them. And what better way to do so than to talk things through?

Don’t shy away from asking them how you can be of assistance. Furthermore, as someone who has guided hundreds of people battling anxiety to recovery, Archstone Behavioral Health advises asking your loved one to explain what anxiety feels to them. And if they are already working with a therapist, inquire about the coping strategies they have in place.

4. Don’t Enable Anxiety

The line between helping someone deal with anxiety and worsening it is thin. First of all, it’s important to note that it’s not possible to eliminate anxiety altogether. It is possible, however, to diminish its effects on a particular individual.

With that in mind, if your family member struggles to speak to someone over the phone, it won’t do them any good if you take the obligation of calling upon yourself. After all, there will come a time when you aren’t there, and they need to make a phone call. What do you think will happen? Well, listen up. They’ll feel even worse.

You can only avoid specific scenarios for so long. So, instead of avoiding them, take steps to make them more bearable. Let’s take the above phone call as an example. If your family member needs to take it, don’t take it for them. However, before they do so, create a script to help them navigate it better.

5. Don’t Attempt to Minimize the Anxiety

If something isn’t a big deal to you, it doesn’t mean it isn’t a big deal to a person going through an anxious episode. That’s why you should never tell someone to “relax.” It will only make everything worse!

Instead, show understanding and validate their feelings. Reassure them you hear them and are there for them no matter what.

6. Be Patient with the Anxious Family Member Who is Struggling

You can’t force someone through recovery. You need to give them time to cope with their emotions in their own way and at their own pace.

By reassuring them that they can do things at the speed they are comfortable with, you’ll be able to help them feel more supported and less anxious. And wasn’t that the goal the whole time?

7. Talk

The best way to support a family member struggling with anxiety is by talking about it. Amid an anxious episode, it can be challenging to think rationally. The worst-case scenarios are swirling around one’s head, clouding their judgment. Articulating the fears helps one understand that they might not be as hard to overcome.

To get to the “realization” phase, think about posing questions like “What is the worst-case scenario?”, “How can you deal with it?” and “What’s the best that could happen?”.

Of course, one conversation alone won’t help banish anxiety for life. But it surely is a step in the right direction.


Top photo via Pixabay

7 thoughts on “7 Ways to Support a Family Member Struggling With Anxiety”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Privacy & Cookie Policy
%d bloggers like this: