4 Things to Avoid Saying to People With Anxiety Disorder

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“I get nervous about everything, sometimes I literally don’t know why I am anxious, I just am and no one seems to understand that.” Though anonymous, the quote portrays the reality of many, who feel shattered and helpless due to their continuous episodes of anxiousness without any concrete reason. Or perhaps you live in the same space with someone who is suffering from anxiety and stress disorder. On top of that, people don’t tend to understand that anxiety is a real mental disorder and nobody can just “snap out of it.”

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), anxiety disorder is the most common mental disorder in the United States. Around 40 million adults suffer from anxiety disorders. The least thing such people want to hear is any expert advice from individuals who have never been in their shoes.

Just a simple comment can wreck the emotional state of a person who is already carrying the burden of fear, anxiousness and nervousness. Highlighted below are four things that an individual should avoid telling a person suffering from anxiety:

    1. All you need to do is calm down: As the quote goes, “Telling someone with anxiety to just calm down is like telling someone with epilepsy to just stop having a seizure.” The problem with anxiety disorders is that one cannot calm down just like that. Telling such a person to maintain composure is indicating that they themselves are responsible for triggering their anxiety episodes, which is not true. Nobody wants to suffer from a debilitating condition. Thus, in such a condition, it is better to ask how they can be supported in overcoming their anxieties.


    1. Don’t think about it: “I have no idea how not to think.” Absolutely! How will a person suffering from anxiety not think about it? For example, tell a person who is devoid of any mental disorders to not think about the last match that his team lost to their biggest opponents. He will think about it night and day, take more stress and get more anxious. In fact, a person who is suffering from anxiety experiences it more than this man. The thoughts overwhelm an anxious person incessantly and it is extremely hard to turn those thoughts off. So, it is always better to distract the person from such persistent thoughts, may be by taking him/her for a walk in nature, for example. Such an act can deviate his mind.


    1. Have a drink, it will ease your mind: Never ever ask a person with anxiety disorder to drink a few sips of wine, whiskey or beer. It will surely offer a calming effect but it is short-lived and will make matters worse in the long run. There is a tendency of getting addicted to alcohol and a continuous inflow of drinks into the system may aggravate the problem. Co-occurring disorders are harder to treat. Therefore, one should never inculcate the habit of drinking, especially when suffering from some mental issue. Consulting a doctor for a proper treatment should be the right step.


  1. Don’t worry so much; it’s no big deal anyway: “Just because I can’t explain the feelings behind my anxiety, doesn’t make them less valid.” Whatever a person with anxiety is worrying about, it is a “big deal” to him. People who are not in his position will never understand. Instead, a friend or a family member can listen to his woes and concerns in a compassionate manner and support him.

Way to an anxiety-free life

Everything can be difficult for a person suffering from anxiety. In fact, doing the little household chores without having suppressive thoughts can be a monumental feat. Seeking treatment can help a person overcome his distressful situation.


Live and Love Fearlessly,

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