Not many people know what an anxiety disorder actually is. It is a common illness defined by worry, fear and uneasiness. These feelings inhabit the mind and soul of anxious people at every turn. We all experience anxiety from time to time, usually when facing a turning point in our lives, a career change, the launch of a startup or even something like moving out. Yet, people who struggle with anxiety disorders are shaken to the core by even the slightest things.
We don’t realize how hurtful words can sometimes be. Once innocent comment may really harm a person with anxiety, regardless of our good intentions and presumably comforting words. Mental illness is an everyday, internal battle and we should at least do our best to not say all the wrong things when dealing with an anxious person.
There are different types of anxiety disorders:
Panic disorder – experiencing panic attacks, in most cases along with chest pains, heart palpitations and sweat.
Social anxiety disorder – people feel overwhelmed by social encounters and are deeply concerned about what other people think about them.
Phobias – people experience extreme anxiety when faced with something that they’re really afraid of, like heights or snakes.
Generalized anxiety – feeling extremely anxious, agitated and troubled for little reason.
Below are 7 phrases you should avoid saying to someone with anxiety issues:
1. Calm down!
It’s not like anxious people wake up in the morning wanting to be cloaked in worry and distress. It’s not enough that everything inside and around them are causing them emotional strain. It’s one of the most damaging things you can say to someone dealing with extreme anxiety.
2. Stop freaking out!
Anxiety cannot be controlled. You’re making them more anxious telling them to stop and to calm down.
3. We all have stressful periods.
Don’t make the assumption it’s all just a stressful period everyone experiences. If someone dealing with anxiety open up about their feelings, don’t make it about everyone else, saying it’s something normal and common. We shouldn’t jump to generalize people’s emotions, we have no idea how it feels like to be in their shoes.
4. You’re overreacting!
Another condescending line which can easily break inside an anxious person. Like it’s their choice to react in that manner. Well, it is not.
This one question has all the ingredients to break an anxious person into pieces. They chose to share their feelings of worry, stress or fear and all they got was a reassurance that they make other people feel embarrassed or tired of their anxiety episodes. This will only shut them down.
You should never say these things to a person dealing with anxiety. Pass it on!