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5 things you should never say to a person suffering from anxiety

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Man suffering from anxiety (Photo: Shutterstock)
  • How can you help a person suffering from anxiety? 
  • Approximately 19.1% of adults in the United States suffer from anxiety.
  • Here are 5 things you should never say to someone with anxiety.

Things you should never say to person suffering from anxiety. This issue is more common than you think. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), in the United States at least 19.1% of adults reported suffering from anxiety.

This condition also affects children. In 2020, more than five million children were diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, while 2.4 million were diagnosed with depression. Given this, it is vital to know how to communicate effectively with people suffering from these issues.

5. What not to say to a person with anxiety: ‘It’s all in your head’

person with anxiety

A phrase that you should never say to a person with anxiety is: ‘It’s all in your head.’ This invalidates their very real feelings, which could exacerbate their sense of not being in control.

This also has a negative connotation and may discourage those who are suffering from seeking professional help or confiding in loved ones.

4. ‘You’re overreacting’


One thing you should never tell a person with anxiety is that they are overreacting. On occasion, anxiety can manifest in physical and psychological symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, heart palpitations, shortness of breath or isolation.

Telling a person with anxiety that they are overreacting will not only make them feel worse. It also implies that their symptoms are unimportant and that they will go away on their own. Sometimes, professional help is needed in order to learn how to effectively manage their symptoms.

3. ‘Everyone worries’

what never to say to a person with anxiety

It is true that everyone worries, but the reality is that everyone is different and the intensity of their feelings are not the same for everyone. Some people can become overwhelmed and it impacts their quality of life.

Though we all face stress, loss and grief at some points in our lives, it is important to respect how others process these things without judgement.

2. ‘You’re just trying to get attention’


Some people with anxiety suffer from symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, insomnia, intestinal problems, feelings of isolation, tremors, extreme fatigue or shortness of breath. These can be debilitating and affect their daily lives even if there is nothing physically wrong.

The reality is that these symptoms of anxiety have little to do a desire for attention and are the body’s response to overwhelming stress.

1. What not to say to a person with anxiety: ‘Everything will be fine’

worried person

This may seem like something people want to hear but it may not be helpful for someone suffering from severe anxiety. It could wind up minimizing their feelings or even worse, give them false hope.

Saying that everything is going to be fine in a moment of crisis could give a false impression that their situation will improve without outside intervention. Instead, you can try saying things like, ‘I’m here to listen to you,’ ‘Your feelings are valid,’ ‘What can I do to help you?’. This will open a channel of communication.

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