It can be really hard to be a friend or family member of someone who is struggling with anxiety & depression, but these tips located below can truly make a huge difference to the person struggling.
The first thing someone with anxiety & depression wants you to know is that they have not chosen this life. It isn’t possible for them to simply ‘snap out of it’ or to choose to feel better. They need you to be patient with them as they work on healing, which takes time. It can be helpful to tell your loved one that you are sorry they are having a difficult time and that you are there for them as long as it may take.
Secondly, people with depression often feel like a burden. They avoid contact with close friends and family members because they feel this way and they do not want to ‘bring others down’ or hurt their feelings. It would be helpful to tell your loved one that you do not see them as a burden but as someone who is carrying a burden.
People who are living with anxiety and depression often need extra reassurance but then feel guilty for needing/asking for that. Another great tip is to let them know that you love them, that you are there for them, and that you will never leave them. Even if you feel like they know that, it is helpful for them to hear it over and over again.
Lastly, working through anxiety and depression is not an easy task. What seems like a small step to you may be a huge step to your loved one who is working hard to heal. Acknowledge the little steps he/she takes and let your loved one know that you see their effort and that you’re proud. Your loved one wants you to know they are doing the best that they can. Let your loved one know that even if you do not fully understand what he/she is going through, that you understand it is hard and that it takes a lot of strength to keep fighting.
Amy Shaw, MSW, RSW
B. Skinner Coaching & Psychotherapy