6. “There are worse things happening in the world.”
Yup. And now I’m thinking about all of those terrible things too. When someone with anxiety is explaining a concern, you should never belittle that concern with a problem you think is worse. They’re telling you about an issue that makes them feel crappy – please focus on that crappy problem instead of directing them to millions of other crappy problems.
7. “Have you tried exercising?”
Jesus, yes. Unfortunately, not everyone can tame their mental health problems by jogging. While exercising can sometimes improve your overall mood and help you de-stress, some anxiety disorders are too severe for exercise alone.
8. “I know exactly how you feel, I get nervous too sometimes.”
Comparing normal nervous stage fright feelings to the sheer, paralyzing terror that can grip people with anxiety disorders is to trivialize their ailment. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to relate to someone to make him or her feel better, don’t do it unless you actually have an anxiety disorder.
9. “At least there’s nothing physically wrong with you.”
Ah, boy. Here we go. Mental health should be treated JUST AS important as physical health. There’s still a stigma attached to getting mental health help that needs to disappear. If you broke your arm, you would immediately be taken to the hospital for treatment. If someone tells you that they’re severely and chronically depressed or anxious, you should be encouraging him or her to seek treatment, not giving a pat on the back and saying, “At least it’s not cancer!”
10. Everything is going to be fine.”
Everything is not always fine. I know this a go-to phrase for people trying to comfort others, especially when they don’t know what to say but it’s not always the best thing to say to someone with crippling anxiety. You don’t always get over things but you can always get around them. Acknowledge that some things may not be okay but encourage them that no matter what happens, you will get through it together
Remember to be supportive and to never minimize someone’s feelings or make them feel singled out. Compliment them on their strong attributes, praise them for small victories, and lend an ear. If they don’t feel well enough to leave their house, ask if they’d want to watch a funny movie and order pizza. Overall, just be kind, mindful, and understanding of people with anxiety disorders.