Anxiety, while it can feel isolating, is commonly experienced. If you don’t struggle with anxiety or have an anxiety disorder yourself, you probably know at least one person who does, whether they’re a friend, coworker, or family member. While it is difficult to see anyone struggle with their mental health, it can be incredibly challenging if that person is your parent, sibling, child, extended family member, or friend. Even though we desperately want to help our loved ones, we often feel at a loss as to how to support them when their struggle is mental. So how do we fight alongside our family members who have anxiety?
1. Learn about anxiety
If you don’t personally struggle with anxiety, it can be hard to understand someone who does. Doing a little research on the symptoms of different anxiety disorders can allow you to gain insight into the thoughts and feelings your family member may be experiencing.
Many articles on helping a loved one with anxiety recommend researching different anxiety disorders. If you are interested in learning more about anxiety disorders, here are a couple of resources to check out:
2. Listen to your loved one
While reading about different anxiety disorders can help you learn about what your family member is experiencing, the best way to understand what they are going through is to ask them about it. Anxiety manifests itself differently in every person, meaning everyone experiences it in a unique way. Gently ask your loved one about their experience with anxiety; if they are comfortable speaking about it, then listen with an open mind. Frequently the best thing you can do to help your loved one is to listen to them share their struggles and offer support.
Be patient as your loved one may experience ups and downs with their anxiety. Ask your loved one what you can do to make them feel most comfortable in the day-to-day.
3. Bring God into the conversation
Prayer is an incredibly powerful tool for any trial you may face. Praying for and with your loved one about their anxiety invites God into the battle and reminds both you and your loved one that God is in control and loves them unconditionally.
In addition to praying for and with your family member, remind them what the Bible says about anxiety: that as a follower of Jesus they are given a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7), that Jesus gives them peace (John 14:27), that Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33), and that because they believe in Jesus, there is no condemnation for them (Romans 8:1-2). While these verses may not eliminate your loved one’s anxiety and are not meant to shame them for having anxious thoughts, they are truths that may help ground them when anxiety begins to invade their mind.
4. Encourage them to seek professional help
Many counselors and therapists are trained to help people overcome or manage mental health issues such as anxiety. If your loved one isn’t already seeing a counselor or therapist, perhaps gently ask if they would consider seeing one. There is no shame in going to counseling or therapy. If you or a family member is interested in getting professional help or considering medication for anxiety, contact LCBC’s pastoral response team for resources specific to your area.
Walking alongside a loved one with anxiety isn’t easy, but the good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. We at LCBC want to equip you with the tools you need to love your family members well and to help both you and your loved ones live out Jesus’s call to have life to the full (John 10:10)
If you are looking for more resources that share LCBC’s perspective on mental health, check out:
LCBC stands for Lives Changed By Christ. We are one church in multiple locations across Pennsylvania. Find the location closest to you or join us for Church Online. We can’t wait to connect with you!