5 Helpful Things to Say to a Friend Whose Anxiety Is Skyrocketing

The odds are pretty high that anxiety will elbow its way into your life or that of somebody you’re keen on . Nearly one in three American adults will experience an mental disorder at some point in their lives.

Though there are differing types of hysteria disorders, all of them have an equivalent underlying foundation: excessive worry and fear which will make lifestyle desire a battle. If you’ve ever been around a lover whose spiraling anxiety is causing them distress—or if you’ve been the recipient of some panicked texts—you get how awful it can feel to ascertain a lover in pain and not skills to reply . They don’t exactly teach these things in schools (though they really should, right?). So, in an attempt to assist out, we talked to a couple of experts about exactly what to mention when a friend’s anxiety is getting particularly severe—and a few responses you ought to steer beyond too.

Try saying the subsequent to assist a lover whose anxiety is climbing:

1. “What am I able to do to assist right now?”

Yes, it’s almost absurdly simple and should seem glaringly obvious, but it’s also incredibly important. “Without knowing what the person wants, it’s hard to understand what to try to to ,” Martin Antony, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Ryerson University in Toronto and author of The Anti-Anxiety Workbook, tells SELF.

The ways people experience anxiety can vary so widely counting on factors like their specific diagnosis, personality, life experiences, the type of day they’re having, and more. “Some people might want support, some people might want advice, some people might want people to only leave them alone,” Antony says.

That’s why, generally , asking may be a better way to thank someone than diving in under the idea that you simply have skills to assist , Antony says. Even better: If your friend mentions their anxiety on each day when it’s not skyrocketing, take the chance to open up a conversation about how best to support them when it does feel unmanageable. Though what they assert could also be subject to vary , you’ll get some baseline information to figure out when your friend’s having a troublesome time.

2. “Would it help if I just sat here with you?”

If your friend’s anxiety is so severe that they can’t communicate what they need or need from you, a potentially helpful thing to try to do is simply sit down with them for as long as they have , Antony says.

Rachel W., 32, has found that having support in this manner is often really helpful when she’s feeling super anxious. “Hearing this is often the best: ‘I know you’re spiraling immediately , and it seems like you cannot control it, so let’s just breathe together within the meantime,’” Rachel tells SELF.

“Offering a uniform , calm, and reassuring presence speaks volumes,” Lekeisha Sumner, Ph.D, clinical health psychologist at UCLA, tells SELF. “[It] communicates that they’re loved and supported.”

Rachel has also found it helpful for the friend in question to declare out loud as how to assist her specialise in her breathing and slow it down. (Many people have a troublesome time breathing during heightened anxiety.) “Encouraging the individual to hamper breathing is often useful,” Antony says. Whether or not it helps and the way exactly to travel about it’ll depend upon the person and your relationship, but if they’re really having a tough time breathing at a traditional pace, it might be worth a try.

3. “I love you and that i am always here for you, regardless of what’s happening .”

Sometimes, a compassionate text checking in together with your friend offers reassurance from a distance. Rachel had a lover who would constantly offer support by sending kind and reassuring texts, something she found enormously comforting sometimes when her anxiety was getting out of hand. “She’d say, ‘While I do not know what you are going through, i really like you and i am here for you regardless of what,’” Rachel explains.

The specifics of what you say will vary supporting your friendship and what precisely the person in question is handling . the purpose is to allow them to know they need your unwavering support, even when you’re not together in real world .

4. “Would you like me to return over?”

If your friend has a difficult nonce alone, you’ll offer to travel over to speak (or just hang) until their anxiety subsides a touch . However, Antony notes that there is often a fine line here. People with various anxiety disorders sometimes have what experts call safety behaviors, which are coping mechanisms which will help someone deal within the moment but can become a kind of crutch over time by preventing the person from actually working through their anxiety. “During treatment, we encourage people to gradually reduce their use of safety behaviors, including the necessity to be accompanied when feeling panicky,” Antony explains.

Your goal is to be supportive without accidentally encouraging the utilization of excessive safety behaviors that would just prolong your friend’s journey in treating their anxiety (or, say, feeling such as you always got to drop everything in your own life to be there during a friend’s anxious moments). If you’re worried about this, it’s something you’ll gently ask about during a more neutral moment when your friend’s anxiety isn’t spiking.

This might feel weird to try to to , but if you frame it as worrying about how your friend might cope once you can’t be there—not about feeling burdened or irritated—they’ll hopefully understand. That’s very true if you underscore it with the message that you simply want to assist them manage their anxiety as best as possible within the future , not just within the moments when you’re ready to be by their side.

5. “Are you trying to find advice or would you rather I just listen?”

You might have the urge to right away give your friend advice, due to course you would like to assist them fix anything that’s making them anxious. Sometimes that would be just what they have . Other times, though, people want to precise their feelings without getting an inventory of things to try to to in response. Delivering the type of support your friend needs can help them feel more understood, which is why it’s important to clarify which sort they’re trying to find , Antony says.

If your friend just wants you to concentrate , throw yourself into that. Listening is an art and requires putting away all distractions, not interrupting, and letting your friend know you’re not getting to judge them for what they assert . If they need advice, counting on what you’re getting to share, you would possibly want to couch it with something like, “I do not know if this fully applies to what you are going through.” Or consider posing it as a really specific question first, Emanuel Maidenberg, clinical professor of psychiatry and therefore the director of the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Clinic at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, tells SELF. He says to undertake something like, “Can I tell you what helps me once I feel stressed and upset?” If they assert “no,” take them for his or her word.

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