14 Things To Know When You Love Someone With Anxiety

Anxiety is a scary mental illness to have and it takes a lot of strength to deal with it.

You may love someone who has to go through life with the constant feeling of missing that one step on the staircase. It may even be frightening for you as well.

It’s not impossible to love someone who has anxiety, but there are important things to keep in mind while loving them:

  1. It’s not all in their heads. They’re already struggling with the question of whether or not this is all in their heads and sometimes feel guilt with not being able to get better as a result. The truth is anxiety can’t be cured with a snap of a finger, so try to stay away from the assumption that they can get over this quickly.
  2. Try not to understand their experience. Anxiety is something you never want to experience. Ever. So don’t try to place yourself in their shoes. It’s okay to not know what it’s like. This is something that’s personal for them and they have to work through it themselves.
  3. They’re not introverted or anti-social. It’s easy to overlap anxiety with introversion or being anti-social, but that’s never really the case. One of the most frustrating things about anxiety is just how much it hinders the social aspect of life, making it difficult to not want to isolate yourself.
  4. Anxiety attacks and panic attacks are different. It’s also easy to believe that anxiety and panic attacks are interchangeable but that’s not the case either. Anxiety attacks make you feel like you’re highly overwhelmed (think of nervosa x5). But a panic attack is much more crippling in the sense that you feel like you’re close to having a heart attack.
  5. But when they do have either one…try not to panic yourself. Take them to a place where they could be alone and allow them to calm themselves, whether it’s taking deep breathes or pacing.  
  6. Don’t do the tough love thing. Never ever try tough love on them because they already feel guilty about their anxiety. Tough love will only heighten their fear and encourage them to hide away from the world instead of get better. On the other hand…
  7. It’s okay to talk to them about it. It helps to talk to them about it from time to time, so you both could understand the situation better.
  8. It’s also okay to be honest. If it’s mind boggling for you, don’t be afraid to admit that. Anxiety can be difficult to comprehend, especially if it affects the one you love so strongly. So be honest with them, but try to refrain from being harsh.
  9. It’s not your fault. Don’t blame yourself for their anxiety. It can come from a variety of roots and you’re most likely not one of them. Blaming yourself can add more guilt for the both of you.
  10. Don’t be their psychiatrist. You end up taking on burdens you weren’t meant to take on and it may lead them down a risky path. It’s easy to want to make them feel better through things like sex or even being a dare devil. But those things can cause them more harm than good if the sole purpose is to cure them from anxiety. So try not to fix them. Allow them to get some professional help if they feel they need it.
  11. Sometimes, it’s good to simply be there. What you can do to help is be there for them. Support them and give an ear to listen when they need it.
  12. Never tell them to calm down. “Calm down” is the one statement people with anxiety get sick of hearing because it only makes it worse. If they could calm down, they would but they can’t and that’s what sucks about it. It’s difficult to calm down when you have a million irrational thoughts running a marathon in your brain.
  13. Try to understand the triggers. It’s good to know what triggers their anxiety, so it doesn’t happen too often. If things like horror films, spiders, pranks, or mentioning intense current events like war and viral outbreaks place them in anxious mode, try to avoid those things when you’re with them.
  14. It’s never easy…but it can get better. In the midst of all the hardships, always know that you love them and they love you too.