Supporting Someone With Anxiety: What Not To Say

If you are helping a loved one who is suffering with anxiety, it can be tough to know how to support or what words to say. You will be doing your best to support them, and that is great.

With this, it is good to be mindful of things that don’t help.

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week 2019, I tweeted and asked my followers

“What are the most unhelpful things people say to you about anxiety?”

If you’re supporting someone with anxiety, here are some things not to say and some thoughts as to why you shouldn’t say those things. 

Anxiety Help

The tweet received some really interesting input from the fellow mental health community.

Below are a selection of 11 responses which were shared by fellow tweeters (in no particular order).

Part of the problem with Anxiety is that sufferers have irrational worries. You can see the finish line, but we can’t see the finish line because between us and the finish line is a cloud of thick fog. 

  • @uksurvivorjohn left a photo saying “Never in the history of calm down has anyone calmed down by being told to calm down”

Quite sure about this. When people say this to me, I instantly start to worry about my behaviour and this just makes anxiety and thus my reaction worse. 

  • @bi_revolutionar was told “stop eggagerating, you’re looking for attention”

Saying these types of things can be dangerous. Mental illness is life threatening. Would you say that someone who broke their leg is looking for attention? No, you wouldn’t. So don’t say it to someone who needs support with their mind. 

@beachippie “but you look fine”

Who ever said this to @beachhippie needs to realise that it is called mental illness for a reason…

“you’re being too sensitive”

These sort of comments can prevent people from coming forward about their feelings. 

  “Just put it outta ur head”

To people who think of saying this to someone with a mental illness; if it was that easy, it would be done. If you stub your toe, can you put the pain out of your head? No you can’t. So don’t ask someone to put their mental pain out of their head.  

“you have to wannabe happy”

This was a shock, I mean who doesn’t want to be happy?

“I don’t see why you have anxiety when you’re not alone”

People can be surrounded by a loving support network and suffer with anxiety. 

@adams_john “Don’t worry about it…”

This is the thing: anxiety is usually irrational worries. We can’t help it. 

“Be strong”

This one is quite patronizing: people suffering with any mental illness wake up each day and live their lives with the symptoms of that illness.

Subsequently that not only does that makes someone with a mental illness strong, it means they are a warrior!

@habsrissy “have a glass of wine”

Here is a quote from Drink Aware:

“Many people believe that having an alcoholic drink will help them feel more relaxed. However, if you’re experiencing anxiety drinking alcohol could be making things worse.”

 There we have a selection of things that don’t help people with anxiety and some of my thoughts about it.

If you really want to help someone, then there are something that you can say to support someone with Anxiety.

Take twitter posts – email the people within the post and ask them to share and subscribe if interested 🙂

Do you have any points that do not help with Anxiety?

2 thoughts on “Supporting Someone With Anxiety: What Not To Say

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