5 Things You Should NEVER Say To Someone Who Has Anxiety
Sure, everyone deals with anxiety from time to time. After all, it is a human emotion and automatic response to certain situations. But for people without anxiety disorders, the anxiety passes as the situation gets resolved or is dealt with and then they can be on their way as everything returns to normal. However, for those have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder the anxiety that they feel doesn’t have to be just situational. Their anxiety can rear its ugly head at any given moment causing the panic and chaos inside the sufferers’ head to become so overwhelming that it can be hard to deal with.
Unless you have personally dealt with having an anxiety disorder first hand, there are no real words that can describe the torment that it can cause. It can be like having your wallet with all your money in it get stolen along with your car then realizing your two-year-old was in the backseat of your stolen car. I know, it sounds crazy but combine all that anxiety and panic that you would feel from that situation and you might understand what it feels like to have an anxiety disorder. It can be like having all your fears all rolled into one giant mess inside your head.
People with anxiety don’t choose to feel the way they do. It is just how their mind is wired. There are some things that you should just never, ever say to someone who has anxiety. Your heart might be in the right place when you say these things, but sometimes saying certain things to a person who suffers from anxiety can actually do more harm than good. It can even go as far as backtracking progress that a sufferer has made. So, whatever you do, please try not to say these 5 things to people who suffer from anxiety.
5. “Just get over it!”
I don’t even know why people say “Just get over it” anymore. No matter how you look at it, those are some harsh words that can make you feel like your feelings are invalid. When someone with anxiety is expressing how they feel to someone, being told to get over it can make them feel worse than they already do. If getting over things were that easy, do you honestly think there would be someone in this world who would actually willingly torture themselves with “unnecessary” anxiety? If getting over things were that simple everyone would be able to do just that without any issues.
Better yet, how would you feel if you were the one being told to get over it? People can easily dish out those cold words but they can’t take it when it gets thrown back at them! There is never any circumstances that would allow the words just get over it to be okay.
4. “Can you just calm down?”
When someone is freaking out about something, a natural response would seem like you should tell the person to just calm down. But by telling them this, you are invalidating the persons feelings. It’s almost like telling the person that the way the are feeling is wrong. And in case you weren’t aware, there is no right or wrong way to feel about things that happen in our lives because we are all unique and feel things differently. Instead, tell that person that it’s okay to feel what they are feeling and that once they feel a bit better, the two of you can go over game plans or solutions to whatever is bothering them. The more supportive you are, the more successful you might be at actually helping them to calm down.
3. “It’s not that serious…”
Who are you to classify what is serious and important to another human being? Telling someone with anxiety that it isn’t that serious can send them spiraling down a dark hole. It will make them feel worse which, in turn, can further trigger their anxiety. Be a listening ear to the person with anxiety, hear them out. They will come to their own conclusion eventually on whether or not the situation merits enough credit to be classified as serious in their own books. It doesn’t matter how you see it because it is not your life or your feelings that you are dealing with. How would you like it if someone were to tell you that your problems weren’t that serious when you have been a wreck about it for some time now? There is nothing soothing about being told that it’s not that serious.
2. “It’s all in your head.”
Telling someone that how they are feeling and that their anxiety is all in their head or that they make up things to be anxious about is extremely cruel and cold. Have you even ever experienced anxiety before? Sure, the feelings stem from inside your brain which is inside your head but anxiety can affect more than just your mind. It can cause physical symptoms as well such as an accelerated heartrate, nausea, diarrhea, headaches, and so much more. Some people stigmatize their loved one’s mental illness without even realizing it by saying things like “It’s all in your head.” There is no way that anything good can come from saying this anyone!
1. “Why can’t you be more positive?”
People with anxiety don’t choose to have anxiety or think the way that they do. If you would actually ask someone with anxiety why they can’t be more positive, it just goes to show how little you actually know about anxiety. Many times, anxiety can stem from negative past experiences and traumas. It can be everything negative that has ever been said or done to you. If your mind was constantly on high alert or in fight or flight mode, feeling more positive can be more challenging that some people would like to believe. It’s just not that simple. When you are in a foul mood or not feeling mentally well yourself, are you able to turn that frown upside down and radiate positivity that just isn’t there at the moment? Probably not.
Samantha is the author of "My Bipolar Mind: You're not alone," she is also a freelance writer, blogger, and mental health advocate who runs and manages her own mental health blog MyBipolarMind.com.