How to help a loved one with anxiety

by Nurse Rose Melendez | WGTS 91.9 FM

Anxiety affects 40 million Americans each year, and is the most common mental health problem in the U.S. It’s possible that someone you know struggles with stress or anxiety, but how can you tell? Nurse Rose Melendez, RN, offers her tips to help if someone in your life has anxiety.

How can you tell if a loved one is struggling with anxiety?

Nurse Rose: Look out for these common signs and symptoms of stress:

  • Feeling excessively worried or fearful
  • Loss of interest in activities you normally enjoy
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension or pain

What can we do to help if our loved one does have anxiety?

Nurse Rose: Watching a family member or friend struggle with anxiety is tough. Try these tips to support your loved one.

  • Open a dialogue. Ask your loved one what’s bothering him or her, and listen to their concerns.
  • Help with problem-solving. Rather than simply reassuring your loved one, help him or her understand what’s causing the anxiety and offer concrete suggestions.
  • Educate yourself. Do some research online or talk to an expert, like a physician, to better understand what your loved one is dealing with.
  • Set boundaries. Remember that you can support your loved one, but avoid taking on a “fixer” role.
  • Care for yourself. Don’t forget to take time for your hobbies and to relax. If you burn out, you cannot help your loved one.

When is it time to get help?

Nurse Rose: It’s never too early to get support from a doctor, mental health professional or clergy member. However, if you notice any of these signs, its important to encourage your loved one to see his or her doctor.

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Inability to go to work or school
  • Diet changes, like eating too little or too much
  • Avoiding social activities or enjoyable hobbies
Rose Melendez, RN

Rose Melendez, RN

Head of Emergency Department

Rose Melendez, RN is the head of the Emergency Department and Nursing Administration at Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center. Tune into WGTS 91.9 FM every Wednesday at 7:40 a.m. to listen to Nurse Rose live on the radio.

Struggling with feelings of prolonged anxiety, hopelessness and sadness? Call 800-204-8600 for a mental health consultation.