What Not To Say To Someone With Anxiety

anxiety

Life with anxiety is a reality for so many, including 18% of the US population. It’s a struggle that takes a toll on people, and the addition of comments from others is not an added benefit. There are certain phrases that pop up often that really need to stop.

I talk about anxiety because I am someone who is living with it on a daily basis. It’s much more than just stress, and really impacts my daily life. I find it very important to have support, which is hard to find when encountering these phrases, which is why I decided to shed some light on this.

“Get Over It”

This should be an obvious phrase to never say, yet it still is constantly. Anxiety is not something that can be overcome simply with the utterance of the phrase “Get over it.” Anxiety is often linked to life events that have had an impact, personality, and genetics, all are things we can’t just get over. Also, people with anxiety experience other mental health issues and physical illnesses, so there are layers to what we are going through. “Get over it” is not a magic phrase, so please stop saying it.

“Why Aren’t You On Meds?”

Not everyone wants to medicate their mental health. Yes, some people choose to use medication to help ease their struggle, but not every single person does this. Medication does not cure what’s happening, it just makes it easier for some.

“Don’t Be Crazy”

Never, I repeat NEVER, call someone with any mental health issues crazy. Anxiety is one where many people react strongly to certain situations, such as people with social anxiety not wanting to be in a huge crowd. Those reactions don’t make us crazy, even if the reaction is very strong (ie a panic attack).

“You Just Want Attention”

Most of the time, we just want to feel normal. I don’t like being stared at when I walk into a room late or step out because I am having a panic attack. I seldom share my anxiety with people because of the attention I could get, especially if that attention is negative or overbearing. Anxiety is something serious that people live with every day, so attention is not part of the equation.

“I Know What You’re Going Through”

I know this one seems odd, but hear me out. I have had very particular life events that have contributed to my anxiety. Unless you have been through exactly what I’ve been through, don’t say “I know what you’re going through.” Especially if you are someone who is not living with anxiety. It can be comforting to hear for some people, but you have to be careful if you use it because, if you don’t actually know, you can let down that person in the future.

Now, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t say anything to someone with anxiety. Here are some safer phrases to use:

“I am here for you.” – Only if you actually are, again you could let them down if you are not being truthful.

“How can I help?” – It’s a great way to show you care, because you are interested in their needs. Everyone is different and wants different things for help. And if you can’t provide the help they need, find someone who can.

“Thank you for telling me.” – It can be really hard for someone to share their struggles, and it’s good to validate the decision to share by showing that it mattered to you, even a little.

If you don’t know a lot about anxiety, or are living with anxiety and would like to find resources, I suggest going to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

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25 Comments Add yours

  1. Isabel says:

    This is so beautiful, I really needed to hear this. As someone who is going through anxiety, how can I help is such a great thing to say. It definitely eases your pain and let’s you know you are not alone. Thanks for writing this!

    Like

  2. NiftyBetty says:

    You are so brave sharing your struggle. I do get some anxiety, brought on by having kids and trying to run errands with them. I get flustered, my heart rate increases, I start to panic. I end up not going most of the time. Which results in online ordering. It’s hard. People think I’m being weird. But, it’s a true struggle. It’s not fun. You’re right, you don’t want it to happen. You aren’t trying to get attention. It just happens.

    Like

    1. Exactly. So many different things can trigger anxiety, and its never on purpose.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Charlotte says:

    Thank you so much for this. I have no idea what could possibly possess someone to say something so insensitive, as though anxiety and depression are just things you can turn off. If that were the car, I’m sure there would be far fewer cases! Thank you for this post, as someone who struggles with this myself, I appreciate those who show actual concern and compassion xoxo

    Like

  4. depepi says:

    Beautiful post! Thank you!

    Like

  5. tonirynne says:

    Completely agree with this post. Thanks!

    Like

  6. Oh my, Thanks for posting this. This information is really good for those who know people who are suffering from anxiety.

    Like

  7. Branson says:

    I struggle with anxiety and depression, and it is hard to have relationships sometimes when people just don’t understand. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Like

  8. Elizabeth says:

    I actually wrote a post about my own anxiety today. Thank you so much for writing this post, I found it so true and helpful as well. So many people don’t know how to interact with people that have anxiety, and it hinders relationships. Posts like this are what I show to family members and friends. Thanks! I hope you are doing well!

    Like

  9. This is a very insightful post. I remember making many of those mistakes when a friend was going through a similar ordeal. Sensitivity can sometimes be difficult and I think you covered this topic well.

    Like

    1. Sensitivity is difficult, and sometimes we don’t exactly know what is happening and what triggered it. That’s why I touched on the subject to help others out, because sometimes a not-great thing is said on accident

      Like

  10. Chrissy Z. @ The Brave Wanderer says:

    I had to deal with anxiety when I was younger and had just started adulting, meaning – getting a job and taking responsibility for myself. It was such a hard time and it was so hard opening up to others about it. I have gladly overcome it for the most part and I am glad to have had a handful of people who helped me through it without judging. Good for you for opening up and voicing your feelings! Very true and helpful!

    Like

  11. Great advice!!
    I also did a post about anxiety and panic attacks: how to deal with them, for both people who have anxiety and for those who know someone with anxiety!
    It is very important to speak up about mental health and break the stigma that comes with it!

    Like

  12. beckyginther says:

    Get over it is the worst thing. It’s not a temporary thing, anxiety is long lasting. Even as someone on meds that isn’t an end all solution for everything, it just helps a little. I still deal with it.

    Like

  13. JessicaTakesontheWorld says:

    One day in class I started having a panic attack and a friend of mine noticed and started asking me all sorts of questions to distract me. It really helped, not just because I was distracted but to ground me and have someone realize I needed help. There is no short answer but I love all the things you mentioned. Thank you for sharing 🙂

    Like

  14. Anamika Ojha says:

    Your post makes a nice read. And well said that we need to control our anxiety.

    Like

  15. Great post. I suffer from social anxiety and recently told my dad and all he did was laugh. I mentioned how some people take medication and then he ridiculed that. Of course I was upset because he has no clue what it’s like to have anxiety and how real it is

    Like

    1. That’s unfortunate. I hope he will gain more understanding on it, especially since you are having to handle it.

      Like

  16. bethanyk says:

    So glad you’ve written about this ! Not many get the concept of anxiety, it’s paralyzingly affects, and how other’s comments can compound wha you’re already feeling

    Like

  17. Thank you for sharing your advice! More individuals need to be aware of how simple phrases can really damage a person’s attitude/feelings towards others.

    Like

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