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Loving Someone With Anxiety

With the increasing prevalence of mental disorders in today’s society, it is likely that you or someone you know has anxiety. What exactly is anxiety? Well, it differs from person to person, but it is categorized by an overall sense of fear or worries that interferes with daily functioning.

What does that mean for people with anxiety? Maybe they have panic attacks; maybe they have obsessions and compulsions that their anxiety tells them they need to fulfill; maybe their anxiety centers around social situations. Whatever the case may be, every person’s anxiety is specific to them.

If you have a loved one who struggles with anxiety, it can be extremely difficult to know what to do to help them. Because anxiety differs so much from person to person, it can make offering your help seem like an impossible task. Do they want space? Do they want to be held close? Should you distract them? Do they want to talk about what’s bothering them? What do you do?

The solution to the problem seems so difficult, but in reality the answer is simple. Just ask them what they need.

It’s that easy. Anxiety affects everyone differently, so the only real way to know how to help someone is to ask them. Whether it’s your boyfriend, girlfriend, mom, dad, sister, brother, best friend; whoever it is— ask them! Say “hey, what can I do to make you feel better?” And if they want your help, they’ll take it and tell you what they need.

Remember to be patient with them and try not to get discouraged if your efforts don’t work out. Anxiety is a tricky thing. It isn’t easily solved, but it’s slightly easier to deal with it when you have a good support system.

When you feel yourself getting upset with them for the consequences of their anxiety, try to put yourself in their shoes and remember that they didn’t choose this. They didn’t cancel your plans last minute because they don’t like you. They did it because the thought of having to interact with others was just too much for them to handle that day. And that’s okay.

What they need most of all is your support. Tell them that you love them and you’re here for them no matter what they need. Be that unwavering rock that they so desperately need to hold onto while the rest of their world is a storm. Respect them and their wishes, offering a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold or whatever else they ask for. Sometimes simply letting them know that you’re there for them is all they need.

Deanna is a junior majoring in English with a minor in Psychology at Cabrini College. She is an active member of Cabrini’s Dance Team, a lover of dessert, and a huge fan of the TV show, Survivor.
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