It is not uncommon for families and friends of those affected by anxiety disorders to spend months, or as is often the case, years trying to find out exactly what is wrong. This inevitably results in a strain being placed on relationships and can, in extreme cases, result in carers themselves developing anxiety problems.
Family and friends often want to help, but are unsure as to how to do this and may wonder if they are actually making the problem worse. It is therefore really important for anyone supporting a sufferer of an anxiety disorder to seek appropriate help and also to gain as much information as possible about anxiety disorders.
Living with anyone who has an anxiety disorder can take its toll on the entire family; household routines become disrupted, forward planning of events becomes impossible, engagement in social activities is affected and the sufferers problems start to spill over into all aspects of everyday life.
Helping a family member/friend suffering with anxiety
Below is a list of things that we recommend you do if you are supporting a family member/friend with an anxiety disorder:
- Learn as much as possible about the sufferer’s specific anxiety problem
- Be flexible with the sufferer, whilst maintaining a normal routine
- Be sure to praise achievements irrespective of how small they seem
- Let the sufferer set the pace for recovery – but always encourage them to try and move forward
- Reassure your friend or family member that setbacks do occur in anxiety, and that they shouldn’t be disheartened if they have a bad day
- Try not to assume you know what the sufferer needs – it is always best to ask.
- Be predictable – don’t surprise the sufferer. If you agree to be at a certain place at a specific time, be there.
- And importantly ensure that you have a strong support network.
- If you don’t look after yourself you will be less effective at supporting others.
Carers and Anxiety Fact Sheet
To find out more information about how best to support someone with anxiety, click here to download a copy of our fact sheet.
Carers Direct is a national information, advice and support service for carers in England. Available online at www.nhs.uk/carersdirect and as a free, confidential helpline seven days a week on 0808 802 0202, it provides accurate, relevant information for carers and those who support them.