Updated: Nov 21, 2020
Anxiety can be a debilitating condition and without the right support it is overwhelming. Many of us can relate to feeling anxious however anxiety disorder can be a constant state of mind. What can you do to help a friend who is suffering with anxiety disorder?
Don't try to fix them
Often people that suffer with anxiety feel that they are burden for sharing their problems. However well-meaning you may be, trying to fix them may make them feel like they were "broken" to begin with. This isn't the case. Remind them that our emotions are fluid, they come and go and that they are not defined by their anxiety, it's just a small part of who they are.
Be completely present when your friend is confiding in you. This type of compassion may have an immediate effect on lifting some of their worry. Simply being listened to will make them feel an element of comfort that they did not previously feel. Acknowledge their feelings and show them that you are happy that they felt they could come to you. This will strengthen your relationship and in turn make them feel less alone. If you actively acknowledge what they are struggling with and how brave they are being, you are reinforcing the idea that you are happy to support them.
Ask your friend what they need from you
We all have different coping strategies for dealing with anxiety. Some people may need fresh air or they might find breathing exercises useful. Another person may benefit from exercise or meditation. Asking someone what you can do to facilitate what they need is more helpful than you might realise.
Let them be
When we see someone we love feeling anxious, we want to do everything we can to take their anxiety away. Although it may seem counter-productive, giving them space to feel their anxiety for a short moment will be extremely comforting. Let your friend know that they are allowed to share and feel their anxiety when you are around - this will help validate their feelings.