It’s always difficult to watch someone you love and are close to go through tough times, especially if their issues are unfamiliar to you and sensitive in nature, such as mental health struggles. Even if you have personally dealt with anxiety or depression, each person’s experience is unique to them, and each person will require nuanced care and support. Additionally, dealing with anxiety and depression at the same time can offer specific challenges that require proper understanding both on the individual and wider level.
As a part of someone’s support system, you likely play an important role in their life, and they likely place a degree of trust in you. And while a support system is no replacement for professional help, and you personally don’t have the power to fix or cure your loved one’s struggles, you can still offer help that they need from those who support and care for them in their life. If you’re looking for ways to help someone with anxiety and depression, here are a few pointers.
1. Learn Their Triggers
While learning someone’s triggers is often beneficial no matter who you’re thinking about, it can be especially helpful when interacting with someone who has both anxiety and depression. Everyone has unique triggers, but when it comes to both anxiety and depression, different stimuli can trigger different reactions, and it can be important to understand the makeup of those experiences so you can help support your loved one however they need to cope. Anxiety triggers may be different from depression triggers, and being mindful of avoiding them when possible and identifying them when necessary can help you quickly offer the support they need.
2. Learn Their Positive Triggers
Triggers are not always negative, although they can sometimes seem like it. But triggers can be anything, including stimuli that triggers a positive experience. While these don’t always need to be introduced as coping mechanisms in response to negative triggers, they can be. In short, learn the specific things that make them happy. The more you can bring positivity and enjoyment into their life naturally, the better you’ll be able to support them and help them cope, whether they’re in the middle of an episode or already having a good day.
3. Let Them Know You’re Here for Them
While this may seem simple, it’s often the simple actions that can go a long way — especially for those struggling with mental illnesses that can make people feel unworthy or alone. Sometimes, a reminder is all it takes to bring a bit of healthy perspective. Reminding your loved one that you aren’t going anywhere, that you love and care for them and that you’ll help in any way you can is often exactly what they need. This can remind them that they aren’t alone and that they have your support.
4. Ask What They Need
Sometimes, the combination of anxiety and depression in someone can instill a fear around asking for the things they need — whether those things are small favors or supportive words. Often, feelings of unworthiness can keep people from asking for help. That’s precisely why it can be so revolutionary and important to ask them what you can do to help and offer your support in whatever way they require it. Whether they need someone to help them do their laundry that day, simply spend time with them or even help them find professional support, lending a helping hand and reminding them that you’re doing it willingly can truly help loads.
5. Help Them Find Professional Support
While everyone has their own journey when it comes to mental health support and resources, it’s important to remember that you can’t be a replacement for a mental health professional, no matter how much you love someone. While you don’t want to push or force help onto someone before they’re ready, helping someone access the professional support they need is often all about balance. Sometimes, those who need and desire help are afraid or nervous to reach out — and this is where you come in. Helping them search for therapists, support groups and even accompanying them to their appointments can be a great way to help them take the next steps in their healing.
6. Remind Them They’re Not Alone
While this might go without saying, reminding them that they aren’t alone can do wonders in reminding them how important they are to you and how loved they are in their support circle. While you might not understand their entire experience, you can be there for them and show them love and care, and that is what matters the most.
Helping Someone With Anxiety and Depression
By learning their triggers both positive and negative, making yourself available and guiding them towards the professional help they might need, you can offer the support your loved one needs when dealing with anxiety and depression. Nobody has all the answers, but offering help however you can is the best way to show your care and support.