How to Help Someone with Anxiety

Let's learn how to help someone with anxiety

Learning how to help someone with anxiety and how to help them cope can be a difficult task.

It can be even more difficult to get them the help they need professionally. They may have physical symptoms, such as panic attacks, or struggle with everyday tasks such as leaving the house.

What can I do to help someone with anxiety?

Anxiety is a common condition and around 30% of Americans will suffer from episodes at some point in their lives. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America suggests several things you can do if someone close to you needs some extra support.

Here are some things you can try to assist those suffering from anxiety:

  • Learn about the disorder. Understanding what your friend or relative is going through will help you give them the best possible assistance.
  • It is important to be encouraging of small victories. These are steps along the road to coping better. This should not ignore their fears or condition; it is most helpful when the sufferer can accept their diagnosis and look for positive coping methods.
  • Look at ways you can encourage the anxiety sufferer to get into treatment. This could be finding them good services in your area, or offering to go along to appointments with them.
  • Acknowledge that some periods will be more difficult than others for the person you're supporting. Try and reassure them that they should not be embarrassed about their condition.
  • Understand that people experience anxiety in different ways. You cannot entirely understand what the sufferer is going through – you should look to being tolerant and supportive of their struggles.
  • Remember that you may not be able to do it all alone. Talk to someone about how you are feeling and take advice on how to get the sufferer the help they need.

Exercise and activities for people with anxiety

Some people with an anxiety condition find that physical or mental exercises can help them feel better. You could help here by:

  • Persons suffering from anxiety may have a lot of things they are putting off doing because of their fear or hopelessness. Help them to review what needs doing, in order of how concerned it makes them and start to cross the smaller items off the list. This could be done by establishing specific times – maybe an hour, or as little as 10 minutes – when you will help them focus on getting an issue sorted.
  • Supporting the sufferer to do some regular exercise. This does not need to be strenuous and can be as simple as joining them for an exercise class, or practicing some breathing exercises at home.
  • Try and help the sufferer to spot their anxiety triggers. This could be meeting new people, speaking in public or something as simple as buying groceries. Once you have identified triggers you can look at ways to address them; such as shopping at quieter times.

How to deal with a panic attack

One common symptom of anxiety is a physical panic attack. These can seem scary as the sufferer may struggle to catch their breath, have a racing heartbeat and report chest pains. This is usually not due to a physical problem but should be medically checked before an anxiety diagnosis is accepted.

If someone you are with has a panic attack it is useful to help them focus on their breathing. Talk to them about what they are feeling and be reassuring about any fears, irrational or otherwise, that they may tell you about. It may also help to learn some breathing techniques that you can share with the sufferer.

Will a doctor provide medication for anxiety?

If you feel that someone in your life is not coping with anxiety – despite taking positive steps to do so, it is wise to seek medication or further help from a doctor.

More than one in 10 Americans take antidepressants and they can be a useful method for managing acute episodes of fear or discomfort. There is a wide range of suitable prescriptions and types of drugs which are suitable for both short and long-term use.

Last Reviewed:
August 30, 2017
Last Updated:
October 05, 2017