It can be hard watching loved ones suffer an anxiety attack. An anxiety disorder is more than just some worry or fear; it’s constant paranoia that something may go wrong or terror about something that could potentially happen but hasn’t yet. How symptoms present is different for each person. Below are two tips so you know what you can do to help if someone needs it.
Find out how their anxiety manifests and what support they need
Anxiety manifests differently for everyone. Some people, when presented with an issue, tackle it head-on, while others run away, and others still freeze and pretend it doesn’t exist at all. This can result in anger, lashing out, irritability, and so on. By figuring out how someone shows their anxiety, it’s easier to know when to give them the support they need. Talk with the person when they’re in a calmer state and ask them what they need; some people want to be talked through what triggered their anxiety attack and how they’ll get through it, while others need emotional support and need to be assured that you’re there for them.
Help slow down their thinking
People with anxiety tend to lean toward the worst-case scenario in any given situation, which can make it hard to move past the task worrying them to something else. Being there to speak with the person logically is a good way to help get them back on track. If possible, ask these three cognitive therapy questions: What’s the worst thing that could happen?; What’s the best thing that could happen?; Which is more realistic or likely to happen? This should help ground them.
These two tips are a good place to start when helping a loved one through an anxiety attack, but they’re not the only ones. There is plenty of advice online to help you further, some of which you can find here.