Published on 29 September 2022

What Not To Say To Someone With Anxiety?

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A patient was concerned that people would think he was anxious and evaluate him negatively if he paused during a speech, rehearsed the speech in great detail, and sputtered. I have pointed out that Safety behaviors like these are problematic for two reasons.

  • First, they prevent socially phobic people from experiencing a crisis of their unrealistic beliefs about feared behaviors. 
  • Second, in some instances, they can make feared behavior more likely. For example, the woman who grasped her wine glass very tightly discovered during therapy that this made her hand more likely to shake.

What Does An Anxious Person Think?

An anxious person believes that bad things will likely happen to them, even if it is false. They forget that no one can ever control their thoughts and beliefs completely. In most life cases, the extreme catastrophic view is not very realistic.

Usually, the less intense belief is the more realistic one. Most people who are anxious tend to think in unrealistic ways. Sometimes, bad things will happen, and getting nervous in such situations is natural. We all have time when we get angry, anxious, or stressed when it isn't necessary. Anxious feelings can sometimes play the same role in your functioning and contribute similarly to well-being.

Things Not To Say If A Person Is Suffering From Anxiety 

Words have the potential to hurt anyone's sentiments without fighting. Sometimes these words impact the mental health of anxious people without getting them noticed, so here are some sentences you should avoid while communicating t with worried people.

"Stop worrying about it."

This sentence will not be practical and imply that the anxious person chooses to be worried. A response like this places the blame on the person struggling and can suggest that they can control their anxiety-provoking behavior.

It is essential to use better language, which includes simply telling them you are here for them without trying to give any solutions or expecting them to get over it quickly. Also, assure them it is OK if they don't like talking about it. Try not to make them think about what's causing their Anxiety. 

"You are an anxious person."

Labeling someone for something that causes them immense stress and pain is not good. Tagging a person based on their symptoms is very disturbing to their self-concept. 
Anxiety is a common problem among children and adults that can take different forms in the case of children. Sometimes fear and worrying can reach a point where they start causing problems.

"Man up; Grow up."

Whenever we say that experience of being a man doesn't include mental health struggles, we tend to forget that "Men feel Anxiety, and that comment is very invalidating." The phrase "grow up" serves a similar purpose of telling someone that their Anxiety results from their immaturity. In such times, men need your support and empathy toward their emotions.
Few men and women show all or even most of the qualities and behaviors typical of their gender. A distinction has been made between measures of sex role preference, where children are asked which toys, games, and activities they like best, and sex role adoption. 

"Maybe you just need a drink."

Self-medicating will lead to trouble in times of Anxiety. It's potentially dangerous to give such advice. A study on the Use of Alcohol and Drugs for Self-Medication was conducted. The survey results indicated that self-medication was linked with the likelihood of mood disorders, distress, suicidal ideation, and attempts.

"I'm stressed out, too."

This statement produces stress and Anxiety. It also underestimates the person's feelings—similar to dismissing the anxious person's feelings. Don't talk about your Anxiety if you've never suffered the real thing. You can empathize without taking this step. It is advisable to choose appropriate and comforting phrases.

"Just don't think about it."

A person with Anxiety will know the easiest way to solve their problem, but sometimes they may feel uncomfortable and confused. It takes courage for an anxious person to share their feelings with others. After a time, they will stop coming to you and sharing what is distressing them.

How Should You Talk To Someone With Anxiety?

Showing care will help your friend to open up about it. Although you can't relate to the situation faced by an anxious person, it is essential to give support and say things like, "I am there for you whenever you need me." The person may feel that he is not alone and will also feel like being loved.

Don't say: "I know what you mean. I panicked when I saw Rent prices in the U.K." 

Anxiety will make someone so restless that sitting quietly in one place and letting go of their worries may become impossible. People with Anxiety have different relaxation techniques that work for them. Rather than sitting in one place with them, ask them," Can we walk together?".  

Don't say: "Have you tried meditation/yoga/cutting caffeine/exercising more?"

If your friend has been dealing with Anxiety for a while, ask what they need and then do it. Showing your willingness makes them feel that at least someone is taking them seriously rather than joking about their Anxiety. To realize you're with them, say," What can I do to help you?".

Don't say: "Do you need something?".

If you keep asking an anxious person if he is OK, he might feel pressured. Generally, when our loved one's suffering, our natural tendency is often to try to fix it. But it is important to note that some things, including Anxiety, can't be fixed by outsiders. To understand their feeling correctly, ask them, "How are you feeling?".

Don't say: (for the hundredth time): "Are you OK?" 

If you feel they need to see a mental health counselor or take medication, don't force them and let them make that decision. If the person with Anxiety is uncomfortable going to therapy, then suggest them helpline numbers that provide consultations via telephone/ mail. Make them understand that mental health issues are not their fault, and it's OK to take help.

You can also say," Do you need any therapist's help?".

Don't say: "Why aren't you seeing a therapist/on medication?" 

How To Identify The Signs And Symptoms Of Anxiety?

Anxiety Disorder is the most common mental illness in the United States of America, affecting up to 18% of the population. Knowing and understanding the signs of Anxiety can help you recognize your loved one's fearful thoughts or feelings. Symptoms can differ from person to person but can be mainly broken into three categories:

Physical Symptoms 

Some of the physical symptoms you may see if your loved one suffers from Anxiety:

  • Sweating 
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness,
  • Feeling helpless, hopelessness
  • Breathing heavy
  • Diarrhea 
  • Getting fatigued 

Negative Thoughts

People with Anxiety often have thought patterns like

  • Constantly worrying about unwanted things
  • Believing the worst will happen 
  • Making overall assumptions based on a single event
  • Thinking very extremes.

Anxious Behaviors

Perhaps what you'll notice most is your loved one's behavior which becomes anxious by 

  • Trying to avoid the situations or events
  • Seeking reassurance
  • Second-guessing
  • Irritability and frustration in feared situations
  • Repetitive behaviors (like washing hands over and over).

Treatment Options For Patients With Anxiety

There are two primary treatments for people with Anxiety:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) involves learning to lower Anxiety and encounter distressing problems.
  • Medication management with antidepressants works well but is even better when connected with CBT. 

During the therapy session, to show your support, do these things.

  • Tell your loved one what you are with them. 
  • Ask if you can attend their therapy session to learn some skills.
  • Make time from your own life for them.
  • You motivate your loved one to try another therapist if the first one isn't a good fit.

Some Other Ways To Support  

Educate Yourself: Increase your understanding of general Anxiety and other mental disorders so that if a friend or any family member comes to you and talks about their stress.

Listen: Be an empathetic listener and patient while listening to the fears, worries, and anxieties, even if you can't relate. An anxious person needs someone to hear their problems without being judged.
Be Gentle and Empathetic: Don't use phrases like "You have nothing to be worried about. It's not a big deal". Be careful while talking to people with Anxiety since they may get hurt. People with chronic Anxiety are unwilling to change or "face their fears." & it is important not to force them to do something they don't wish to. 

Offer Support: If you see someone struggling with Anxiety, ask what kind of support they need. In some cases, strong support acts as favorable reinforcement. Breaking the coping strategies down into more manageable steps or discussing their problems as a friend will be helpful for people with Anxiety. You can help them identify the triggers which cause Anxiety and teach them how to deal with it. Being an accountable and reliable partner will lead to positive outcomes.

Encourage Self-Care: There are many habits that a person can teach in daily life. While facing anxiety-related problems, you can encourage these self-care habits, including maintaining a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep, and staying active. Make them understand the importance of these habits and motivate them to follow them. 

Bottom Line From Practical Anxiety Solution

Certain people can experience chronic Anxiety and its symptoms more than others. A man is a social animal who needs care and attention. It can be challenging to handle cases related to excessive worry, fear, and Anxiety. But as a caregiver, you can help those by listening to them, validating their feelings, being non-judgemental, and being empathetic towards their feelings.