Anxiety is when our feelings of stress, fear, and worry overwhelm us emotionally and physically. When the weight of anxiety bears down upon us, it’s tempting to isolate ourselves. However, a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn us of the dangerous consequences of loneliness and isolation: not only does it make existing anxiety worse, it can also lead to other physical symptoms and conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even dementia.
We weren’t created to navigate life alone, especially when we’re feeling anxious. We have a God who cares deeply for us, and he gives us resources that will help us through the hard times. One of those resources is other people.
Whether you struggle with a diagnosed anxiety disorder or not, you’ve probably heard the encourage to “talk to someone.” After all, anxiety loves isolation. When you’re having a hard time, it's essential to someone who can provide comfort, guidance, and a listening ear. But you may still find yourself wondering, “Who do I talk to about anxiety?”
Who do I talk to about anxiety?
Our culture has come a long way in terms of openness and understanding of mental health struggles, but it can still be daunting to figure out who to talk to about your anxiety. You may worry about finding someone who really understands and empathizes with what you’re going through. You also might wonder when to get help for anxiety, or if it’s time to talk to a counselor.
There are all kinds of people you can talk to, and it takes time and investment to truly find your people. More than likely, you’ll need to go first in seeking out these important connections. However, you may feel overwhelmed or confused on who to talk to or where to start. There are 5 traits you should look for when you’re figuring out who to confide in about your anxiety:
1. Compassion and empathy
A good person to talk to about anxiety will have genuine consideration toward your struggles. They'll help you feel understood and may even be able to relate personally to what you’re going through. Their willingness to empathize with your feelings can create a safe space for you to share your worries.
In contrast, you might not want to talk with someone who tries to minimize your feelings. Even prayer, which is a great way to grow your relationship with God, can sometimes be offered as a passive solution when what you really need is specialized treatment for your anxiety.
2. Active listening skills
Someone who is attentive and actively listens is a positive sign. A good listener will ask clarifying questions, seek to understand your experiences, and validate your feelings.
You may want to avoid talking with someone who tends to turn the conversation back to themselves. While sharing a personal story can sometimes demonstrate the way someone relates to your experience, conversations with someone who is more self-centered will not be helpful to you.
3. Non-judgmental attitude
A trustworthy person won't pass judgement on you or hold stereotypical ideas about mental health. Instead, they'll offer encouragement and understanding, without making you feel guilty or criticized for your emotions.
It isn’t uncommon for people to carry misconceptions or stigmas about mental health. While your honesty and openness can help to change someone’s point of view, it can be detrimental for you to confide in someone who doesn’t have compassion for your struggle. You don’t have to try to be a hero for mental health while you’re still working through it.
4. Respect for boundaries
A supportive person won't push you to reveal more than you're comfortable with or force solutions onto you. Instead, they'll allow you to open up at your own pace and will provide assistance without overwhelming you.
There are certain treatments like medication or talk therapy that you may or may not be comfortable with. While these can be incredibly helpful, it’s okay to have some hesitation. A helpful person won’t try to coerce you into something you’re hesitant about. On the flipside, they also won’t belittle you for pursuing one of these treatments if they don’t fully agree or understand it.
5. Encouragement and positivity
Someone who uplifts your spirits and offers hope is likely a good choice. A person who encourages you to seek healthy coping strategies, offers positive perspectives, and reinforces your strengths can be incredibly beneficial. Their support should leave you feeling motivated and empowered to manage your anxiety.
As you read through this list of personal qualities, some people may have already come to mind. That’s great! Your next step is to start the conversation. Give them a call or send them a message and start out by saying “I’m having a hard time with my anxiety lately, and I’d feel comfortable sharing with you about it. When do you have time to talk?”
If you’re not sure who to talk to, that’s okay. There are lots of people, like pastors, mental health professionals, or psychiatrists, who have experience helping others process and find healing in their mental health. You may already know of someone, but we’d love to help you get connected with a pastor or counselor if you’re not sure where to start!
Supporting someone with anxiety
You may be reading this article not for your own sake, but to try to figure out how to help someone you care about who struggles with anxiety. Refer back to the 5 traits of a trustworthy person to talk to about anxiety – where are your weak spots? What can you improve to be more supportive for your loved ones with anxiety? It’s okay to not know everything, but it’s important to take steps to understand what others may be experiencing. Here are some articles from our website about caring for others with anxiety:
4 Practical Ways to Support a Spouse With Depression or Anxiety
4 Ways to Help a Family Member Who Struggles With Anxiety
You don’t have to endure anxiety alone. By reading this article, you’ve already taken a step toward healing! We hope we’ve helped answer your question, “Who do I talk to about anxiety?” Keep going – identify one person you feel comfortable talking to and reach out to them today. You can also check out these resources for more advice and assistance navigating anxiety:
50 Anxiety Quotes to Remember
Does Mental Illness Make You a Bad Christian?
10 Ways to Combat Worry & Find Peace
Or visit our Anxiety Resources Page to find more articles, weekend messages, and counseling resources.
If you are in crisis and need immediate help, reach out to one of these mental health hotlines:
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Hotline: 1-800-950-NAMI
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): 800-662-HELP
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK
Crisis Text Line: Text CONNECT to 741741