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URMC / BHP / BHP Blog / October 2016 / What to Say to Someone with Anxiety

What to Say to Someone with Anxiety

You likely know what it’s like to feel anxious now and then. For some it can be more serious. Anxiety disorders are different than the occasional jitters or worries, and they affect as much as 29% of the US population.

Categorized as generalized anxiety, panic, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety, anxiety disorders tax the individual, family, workplace, and the community.

When living and working with someone experiencing an anxiety disorder, you may feel the need to act as a coach or give advice. But think twice before you take that role.  Although well-meaning, comments like these can have a negative effect:

  • Stop worrying. Think positively.
  • It’s all in your head.
  • You’re just being silly.
  • You need to get over it.
  • Just do it!

How can we respond to a partner, friend or colleague with an anxiety disorder? Be their ally. Listen. To start a conversation, try:

  • I’m sorry you’re feeling this way. How can I help?
  • I don’t know what a panic attack feels like, but I’m here for you.
  • I don’t understand completely why you’re feeling this, but I’d like to help.
  • If you want to talk about it, I’m ready to listen.

Encouraging others to explore their feelings with their doctor or a mental health provider can be very supportive.

Want to hear from some people with anxiety disorders, in their own words? Take a look at “How not to talk to someone with anxiety”.

Support for the spouse or partner of someone with an anxiety disorder is also important. Explore the Anxiety and Depression Association of America website to learn about how to support your partner and help yourself.  

For more information about anxiety disorders and their symptoms, and about effective treatments, turn to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Behavioral Health Partners is brought to you by Well-U, providing eligible individuals with mental health services for stress, anxiety, and depression.

Steven P Brown | 10/6/2016

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