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By Dhanashree Padhye

MA (Psychology)

29 September 2022
Medically reviewed by
Dhanashree Padhye
MA (Psychology)
What not to say to someone with Anxiety?
Table of Contents

In the times of covid, fear of contagion pushes people into behavior that provokes depression and Anxiety and can lead to suicide — raising the mortality of Covid-19 among people who don't even have it. Lonely people can succumb to "touch deprivation" and must be embraced.

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. Salkovskis (1991) and Wells et al. (1995) have pointed out that Safety behaviors like these are problematic for two reasons.

First, they prevent social phobic people from experiencing a crisis of their unrealistic beliefs about feared behaviors (e.g., Shaking) or the consequence of these 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.

An anxious person believes that bad things are likely to happen to them, even if this is not true. No one can ever control their thoughts and beliefs 100 percent, and no one will be able to control their feelings 100 percent. 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. At times in life, bad things will happen, and it is very natural to get nervous in such situations. 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 our functioning and contribute similarly to our well-being.

Stop Worrying

"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 feel 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. It will help us perform to the best of our abilities and protect us from dangerous situations. Fear, worry, and Anxiety 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. What men need in such times is your support and to be empathetic 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, substance use disorders, distress, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts.

Drinking in the bar

"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 they may sometimes feel uncomfortable and confused. It takes courage for a person with Anxiety to share their feelings while going through Anxiety. After a time, they will stop coming to you and sharing what is distressing them.

 How should you talk to someone with Anxiety?

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

Instead, say: "I'm always here for you." 
Showing care will help your friend if they have Anxiety or have difficulty opening 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: "Have you tried meditation/yoga/cutting caffeine/exercising more?" 
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.

Instead, say: "What can I do to help you?" 
If your friend has been dealing with Anxiety for a while, ask what they need and then do it. Showing your willingness to offer assistance makes an anxious friend feel that at least someone is taking him seriously rather than joking about his Anxiety.

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

Instead, say: "Let's go to a quieter place or go for a walk." 
If you want to help your friend get out of Anxiety, you can try grounding them back in reality by offering them to go for a walk.

Don't say: "Why aren't you seeing a therapist/on medication?" 
 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 not comfortable going to therapy personally, you can always suggest helpline numbers that provide consultations via telephone/ mail. You can make them understand that mental health issues are not their fault and it's OK to take help.

How To Care For Someone With Anxiety?

Some Other Ways To Support  

 Educate Yourself: Increase your understanding of general Anxiety and other Anxiety disorders so that if a friend or any family member comes to you, you can help them.
 
Listen: Be an empathetic listener and be patient while listening to the fears, worries, and anxieties, even if you can't relate. An anxious person needs someone to listen to 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 very careful while talking to people with Anxiety since they may get hurt. People with chronic Anxiety are unwilling to change or "face their fears." But it is important to remember this fact and not force them to do something they don't wish to do. Avoid negative feelings, self-judgment, and discomfort.

Offer Support: If you see someone struggling with Anxiety, ask what kind of support they need. In some case, strong support act as favorable reinforcement. Breaking the coping strategies down into more manageable steps or discussing them with 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 them. Being an accountable and reliable partner will lead to positive outcomes in such cases.
 
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 encourage them to follow them. 

Takeaway

Certain people can experience chronic Anxiety and also suffer from Anxiety symptoms than other people. A man is a social animal, and he needs care as well as attention. 

It can be challenging to handle cases related to excessive worry, fear, and Anxiety. But as a caregiver, we can help those by listening to them, validating their feelings, being non-judgemental, and being empathetic towards their feelings.   

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