As 1 in 4 people have an mental illness, one of the ways people attempt to deal with them, and are encouraged to do, is reach out to friends and family for support. As one of the friends being reached out to, this may be overwhelming if you aren’t informed on the illness your friend is dealing with. This blog post, and the ones that will follow it, will be written with tips and information that can help someone when they are approached by a friend reaching out for help.
To begin, I’d like to talk about anxiety disorders.
According to dictionary.com , anxiety is “distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune.” There are a number of anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, phobias, and generalized anxiety disorder.
Panic Disorder: people with this disorder have panic attacks that come out of no where, and fill them terror that they can’t explain.
Social Anxiety disorder: is the overwhelming fear of social situations, this feeling oftens centers on the fear of doing something wrong in a social setting and being judged negatively on it.
Phobias: specific phobias is the extreme fear of object or situation, which results in an overreaction when confronted with this object or situation. Fear of the object or situation could lead the person to pulling away from anything that may lead to contact with the object, or becoming part of the situation.
Generalized Anxiety disorder: involves over worrying and blowing a fear out of proportions, even though there’s next to nothing to provoke these feelings.
Similar to other mental illnesses, there’s no concrete reason for anxiety disorders. It is not a sign of mental weakness, and when a friends approaches you about this, or any, disorder it should never be met with negativity.
Tips when a friend approaches you about their anxiety disorder:
-Tell your friend that they are in a safe space with you, and can talk about their worries and fears in a judgement free space. It’s important that they know nothing they say will change how to see/feel about them, and remind them that you care and will listen for as long as they need you to.
-Hang out with them as much as you can, because being around friends makes it less likely for them to dwell on what’s been bothering them. Also, let them know that they can call you whenever to talk, because knowing that someone will answer when they need someone is comforting for them to remember.
-Remember that someone with anxiety may be quick to lash out, and try to be patient with them if they lash out at you. Forgive them.
-When you are hanging out, find exciting activities to do that keep you outside. Avoid activities that include alcohol, because that may cause a setbacks.
-Be yourself, and don’t change how you act around the person with anxiety. They reached out to you for a reason, and be positive for them.
-Finally, don’t give up hope. Even if it feels like they will never get better, remember that anxiety disorders are the treatable conditions.
-Don’t forget to take care of yourself, because your mental well being is just as important as your friend’s. Take time for yourself, and don’t be afraid to reach out if you are feeling overwhelmed.
Also, to get a better understanding of what your friend is experiencing take a look at this BuzzFeed article that will help you understand where they are coming from better.