5 Tips to Help a Friend With Anxiety

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People who struggle with anxiety often need more than psychotherapy and medication to overcome their problems. One of the most important factors is strong support from people in their lives.

Friends and family can be an integral part of the treatment system and can make a difference in recovery time as well as sustain remission. The following are guidelines for helping your friend or family member with an anxiety disorder such as generalized anxiety or social anxiety.

Be Supportive

This may seem like an obvious rule to follow, but being a good, supportive friend can be tough work. Making sure that you can listen empathically without becoming frustrated, provide helpful suggestions, and reinforce continuing with treatment is not easy, but can be the difference between quick recovery and a long-term struggle.

Try to avoid crossing boundaries that your friend has set up regarding what kind of help (or how much help) they want. Being respectful is a key component of good support.

Educate Yourself

Do what you can to learn about anxiety symptoms, treatment, and prevention. Once you become more knowledgeable, it will be easier to avoid becoming frustrated and disillusioned. 

Help Find Treatment

For people who have yet to be diagnosed or are fearful of seeking professional help, a supportive friend can be an important influence in taking the first step. Helping your friend find a treatment provider and encouraging them to follow through can show that you want the best for them.

However, be careful not to become overly invested in this process yourself. If your friend simply does not want to get help, then most methods of trying to force them can make the situation worse and could potentially damage your friendship. Look over the anxiety treatment guide for more information.

If you or a loved one are struggling with anxiety, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Get Your Own Help

If you are in a very close relationship with someone significantly struggling with anxiety, you can also become worn out and frustrated. Activating your own support system can make the difference between helper burnout and continued support.

Talking to a therapist, advisor, or close friend to get support ​is important, but make sure not to jeopardize the confidence your friend with anxiety has in you.

Have Fun

People with anxiety don’t only need folks to discuss their problems with, they also need friends that can make their lives fun and enjoyable. Without putting too much pressure on yourself or significantly trying to alter a strong relationship, being a fun and relaxing person to be around can make you an invaluable support.