Maybe your friend chose to confide in you and allowed you to prepare for what was to come, or maybe they said nothing, but you witnessed them having a panic attack. To prevent reaching a stage of distress for both your friend and you, it’s best to follow a general protocol of precautions while dealing with a friend with severe anxiety.
It’s one thing to help a friend, but it’s a completely different thing when you need to help a friend with a feeling you’ve never felt before. Sure, you can be empathic, but to what extent? Excess empathy tends to turn into a lack of sensitivity if not handled with care. Before we dive into the details about confronting a friend’s anxiety, it makes sense to tackle their panic attacks first, since these can turn into more of an emergency.
For panic attacks specifically, here’s what you can do:
- Ask them to sit down and make them match your breathing. Take deep breaths yourself, allowing them to gain room to calm down.
- Help them feel comfortable. If they aren’t in a state to talk, make them sit down or lie down, but make sure you’re not forcing them because that will only aggravate the attack.
- Make them drink water and ask them if they need anything. There’s no point in making assumptions in a situation where the sufferer might know exactly what they need.
- If nothing works, call for help. A professional will know exactly what to do in case the attack was to worsen. At Craig Counseling, anxiety counselors can help your friend understand what they’re going through while making sure their situation doesn’t worsen any further. It’s always better for an expert to do what they need to do.
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However, the approach to an anxiety disorder is quite different. As a concerned friend, it’s only natural to want to help, and even though you might begin to wonder whether you’re doing the right thing, it’s better to sit down and face the facts on what can make them feel better. No guessing, no games; only facts. To lend a helping hand to your friend with anxiety, you need to:
- Not pressurize them into talking. Tell them it’s fine and you can wait. If they’re ready to open up, they will. You only need to let them know that you’re there for them.
- Don’t marginalize what they’re feeling into a tragic story. They might feel guilty for trying to open up to you and will instantly shut themselves up even more than they already had. This could make their anxiety turn worse.
- It can help to be a friend rather than a doctor. The only reason why you’re thinking about their comfort today is because of the comfort you’re able to provide them. Don’t panic, try to hold subtle distractions with the help of humor that can help in turning the situation a little sweeter than it is.
- Slightly cliche, but if you are good at convincing your friends, recommend a good Mental health speakerthat your friend can listen to. Podcasts, videos, or even a simple piece of writing can do wonders for those who are suffering.
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More than anything, it’s important to remember to tell your friend that anxiety isn’t permanent. It cannot turn you into a home if you shut the door on it. Either way, as a friend, you might feel concerned and think that an Anxiety therapist in Charlotte, NC, might be the best you can do, but sometimes that can be your worst option.