How To Help A Friend With Anxiety: Everything You've Wanted To Know
31 August 2016, 15:17 | Updated: 17 July 2017, 12:19
We share our top tips and favourite YouTube videos.
Mental health awareness is one of the subjects we're most passionate about here at We The Unicorns and we're so proud of how much the YouTube community do to inform and educate their audiences about various mental health issues. From Zoella opening up about her anxiety to Dodie Clark talking about dealing with depersonalisation disorder, YouTubers thankfully aren't shy about sharing their own experiences thus making millions of people more aware and accepting of the subject.
Anxiety is one of the biggest issues YouTubers seem to talk about and when Zoe Sugg became an ambassador for mental health charity MIND, it seemed as if the door had finally been opened for people to share their own stories around anxiety disorder and share their tips on how they cope.
But what if a friend is suffering from anxiety? It can be difficult to understand, let alone know what to do or say. Here, we detail the different types of anxiety disorder and how you can help a friend who might be suffering right now.
Know The Difference Between Feeling Anxious And Having An Anxiety Disorder
You can feel anxious at any point but most of us will experience it in stressful situations- before an exam, on a date or before a job interview. Feeling anxious is perfectly natural, with sweaty palms, a racing heart and difficulty sleeping being just some of the symptoms associated with feeling anxious. It's safe to say we've all been there, right?
So if your friend tells you they're feeling anxious before a meeting or in the queue to meet a celebrity, don't jump to conclusions straight away and accuse them of having a genuine mental illness- it's natural to feel these emotions sometimes. But what's next?
To gain an understanding of anxiety, we recommend reading things like the NHS website which will detail the condition, explain the symptoms/side effects and talk about treatment. The NHS introduction goes into detail around the different types (something we'll touch on later) and the symptoms. Ultimately, someone likely has an anxiety disorder if they struggle with feelings of being anxious to the point it effects their day-to-day life on a regular basis.
Knowing and understanding everything from the symptoms to the types of treatment will help you talk to your friend about their condition, as well as making you a better listener. Of course, not everyone ticks every box so remember that everyone's experience of anxiety is different.
Zoella's Anxiety Q&A; video is a great video to watch if you want to understand anxiety more.
Acknowledge Your Friend's Anxiety
If your friend has opened up to you and spoken about suffering from an anxiety disorder, don't be afraid to ask them how they're getting on or what you can do to help. Whether they mentioned it in casual conversation or had an emotional heart-to-heart with you, it was most likely a huge deal for them to open up and be honest about their mental health, so they clearly trust and respect you.
If your friend hasn't opened up about having an anxiety but you think they may be suffering, why not bring up the topic of anxiety in conversation? Maybe talk about YouTubers such as Zoe Sugg and Tanya Burr opening up about the disorder? Or Zayn Malik's recent admission that he suffers from anxiety? See how they react and support them whatever happens.
In this video, Tanya Burr talks about what anxiety is like for her- imagine the courage it took for her to open up to her millions of subscribers.
But Be Prepared For The Fact They Might Not Want To Talk About It
Some people will tell the entire world about their mental health history, others will only share their experiences via Whatsapp messages in the middle of the night to one person- everyone is different. If you're with a friend who is going through some issues and they tell you they don't want to talk about it right now, respect that. Talking about mental health is nothing to be ashamed of but some people prefer not to do it in certain situations or may just not feel up for talking that day full stop- it's nothing personal.
Know That There Are Different Types Of Anxiety
It's generally acknowledged that are six types of anxiety:
- General Anxiety Disorder
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Specific Phobias
If you can, try and find out what type of anxiety disorder your friend is suffering from and learn more about it. Whilst all six disorders have some things in common, they differ massively when it comes to behaviours, treatment and so on.
The video below explains the ins and outs of General Anxiety Disorder:
Zoe Sugg talks about social anxiety in this video:
Angela Benedic recounts her experiences of panic disorder and PTSD here:
And Arden Rose speaks about OCD in this video:
What To Say And How To Offer Support
We're going to kick off with what not to say because it's actually equally as important:
A lot of people who suffer with anxiety will have periods where they don't especially feel like socialising or going out and doing activities. If this happens with your friends, remember it's not personal and their disorder does not define them as a person- they're still your friend. If your friend does want to be alone, respect that and acknowledge you'll be there when they need you.
And because it's always lovely to make people smile, we've curated three videos below which show you how you can make some simple DIY gifts to put a smile on someone's face.
Love Nutella? These friendship necklaces are the cutest:
Finally, this calming glitter jar is a perfect gift for someone suffering with an attack:
We couldn't be more proud of #TeamInternet for nurturing such a supportive community where topics surrounding mental health can be discussed openly without fear of judgement or ridicule.