How to Speak to Someone Experiencing Anxiety


Have you been here? You are talking to a friend, and he/she is suddenly worried about a possible event that could happen in the future. “What if……”? If you are good friends with that individual, you may say “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.” Or, if you are best friends and have this type of friendship, you’d say “Wow, get it together. We are months away from even having to think about that.” Well, outwardly, it may calm them down or quiet them down, but inwardly? They are screaming or freezing and just shutting down. Welcome to life with anxiety.

Anxiety is shown as a fear and can trigger a fight-or-flight-or-freeze mindset. For some people, this comes and goes. For others, they could be in fight-or-flight-freeze mode all day every day. It is exhausting and they cannot “turn it off”. If they could, they would. In a heartbeat.

Anxiety can also make relationships difficult. Friends and loved ones are not sure why an innocent comment or conversation could trigger an individual’s anxiety to rear its ugly head. It can be so frustrating. So what can you say?

Jennifer Gerlach, LCSW from Beyond Mental Health has some answers for us in her article “5 Things Not to Say to Someone Experiencing Anxiety”.