Not many people are aware about anxiety disorders or how challenging it can be to cope with the symptoms. Generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety, phobias, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are the six different types of anxiety disorders. If you have a friend or loved one who is struggling to deal with their anxiety, here's how you can help.
Ditch your ‘tough love’ approach: It is important to remember that a person does not choose to have anxiety and that the patient has very little control over how he feels and his symptoms in general. A panic attack can strike suddenly without any warning and saying things like 'man up' or 'just do it' can make him feel unsupported and you will come across as insensitive.
Be a good listener: As someone who has battled against anxiety in the past, it always felt good when someone made the effort to actually listen to me and tried to understand what I was going through. Giving some advice can be helpful but most of the times just offering a sympathetic ear to a loved one with anxiety can be extremely helpful.
Offer support with their treatment: Despite the fact that anxiety is one of the most common mental ailments, very few people actually seek treatment. However, with the right psychiatrist or psychologist, an anxiety disorder can be treated and significantly improve one's quality of life. Encourage your friend or family member to get treated and also accompany them to the doctor's clinic for moral support.
Don’t brush off or trivialise their feelings: This is one of the most common mistake people make. If someone you're close to confides in you about how it feels to live with an anxiety disorder, don't tell them to just 'calm down' and 'just chill'. Sadly, anxiety doesn't just go away on its own. Instead, you could offer to do something with them like go for a walk or cook a dish together.
Deal with your own stress: There's no doubt that taking care of someone with depression or anxiety can eventually take its toll on you. You need not babysit your loved one. Instead, take care of your own mental health and make your 'me time' a priority.
Be patient: When you're taking care of a loved one who has an anxiety disorder, remember that you have to be patient. It might take several weeks or even months for them to fully cope with their symptoms. Try to understand what triggers their anxiety and be sensitive to them.
Don’t speak about their anxiety without consent: Despite more awareness about depression and anxiety in India, the sad truth is that there is still a lot of stigma around mental illnesses. Avoid discussing your loved one's anxiety disorder with anyone unless they have given you permission to do so.