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Tips to Help a Friend with Anxiety

Support, Education, and Self-Care

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Updated February 01, 2009

People who struggle with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) often need more than psychotherapy and medication to overcome their problems. One of the most important factors is strong support from people in their lives. Friends and family can be an integral part of the treatment system and can make a difference in recovery time as well as sustaining remission. The following are guidelines for helping your friend or family member with GAD.

Be Supportive

This may seem like an obvious rule to follow, but being a good, supportive can be tough work. Making sure that you can listen empathically without becoming frustrated, provide helpful suggestions, and reinforce continuing with treatment is not easy, but can be the difference between quick recovery and a long-term struggle. Furthermore, try to avoid crossing boundaries that your friend has set up in terms of the way he wants you to help. Being respectful is a key component of good support. I might also help to know how Anxiety Affects Relationships as well.

Educate Yourself

Do what you can to learn about GAD symptoms, treatment, and prevention. Reading through this website and finding a good book are great places to start. Once you become more knowledgeable, it will be easier to avoid becoming frustrated and disillusioned. A good place to start is the Overview of GAD.

Help Find Treatment

For people who have yet to be diagnosed or are fearful of seeking professional help, a supportive friend can be an important influence in taking the first step. Helping your friend find a treatment provider and encouraging her to follow through can show that you want the best for her. However, be careful not to become overly invested in this process yourself. If your friend simply does not want to get help, then most methods of trying to force her can make the situation worse and could potentially damage your friendship. Look over the Anxiety Treatment Guide for more information.

Get Your Own Help

If you are in a very close relationship with someone significantly struggling with GAD, you can also become worn out and frustrated. Activating your own support system can make the difference between helper burnout and continued support. Talking to a therapist, advisor, or close friend to get support are important, but make sure not to jeopardize the confidence your friend with GAD has in you.

Be Fun

People with GAD don’t only need folks to discuss their problems with, they also need friends that can make their lives fun and enjoyable. Without putting too much pressure on yourself or significantly trying to alter a strong relationship, being a fun and relaxing person to be around can make you an invaluable support.

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