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How to Support a Family Member Struggling with Anxiety

Anxiety is a novel concept in society. Millions of people all over the world struggle with symptoms related to anxiety every day.

This common ailment is characterized by uneasiness, uncertainty, obsessive thinking, palpitations, and panic. I can be abrupt and overwhelming, resulting in a feeling of lacking control.

However you can support a family member struggling with anxiety. In my entire career as a counselor, I have come across different individuals from diverse backgrounds who tried all means of medication, therapy, meditation, acupuncture, etc. Different treatment options work differently for everyone. With my experience in the field, I firmly believe that the procedure listed below will be helpful in eradicating anxiety.

Steer Away from Judgement

I would encourage you to stop and think before making a judgmental comment to your family member or spouse about their anxiety symptoms. Anxiety causes negative and irrational thoughts, which can result in harsh self-criticism, so you do not need to fuel the fire! This is the time to show love and care. Make genuine comments to praise their abilities, no matter how frustrated you are or helpless you feel. You may not be able to fix your loved one’s anxiety, that is a battle they will have to fight with your support.

Journal: Writing Down the Obvious

The first and fundamental principle in overcoming anxiety is by allowing the person to write out certain details that prompt their anxious feelings. Encourage your family member or friend to start journaling. Journaling can work miracles. Many people struggle with it at the start. Sometimes they need the guidance from a professional counselor to start processing thoughts, unresolved issues or fears, before they can start journaling.

What does he/she need to write out? The crucial points to write about are as follows:

  • Acknowledging the thoughts (whether positive or negative) that contribute to anxiety.
  • Acknowledge unresolved issues.
  • Consider what would be different if they reverse the negative thought into a positive one.
  • Motivational/encouraging words (what would they tell a friend who was feeling the same way).
  • Express what you desire to change.

All of the processes above will not only pave the way for healing but in turn give strength, fulfillment, and peace.

Gentle reminder, journaling is not for everyone. If your family member has gone through something traumatic, they will benefit more from processing their thoughts with a therapist or a counselor.


Therapy is the only logical, viable and efficient way to treat anxiety. As stress, tension, and fear contribute to anxiety, how you confront the situation matters. Just follow the three basics: The first thing anyone needs to do is to make sure the individual acknowledges that he or she needs help. Secondly, remind them of the importance of confiding in someone. Thirdly, let them know that involvement of family and trusted friends is a vital key to resolving anxiety.

How is the involvement of family important? Statistically speaking, success or failure in treating anxiety is tied to family relationships. Family involvement in therapy hastens the healing process.


The Counselor

What should you look out for before hiring a professional counselor? Who is a counselor? Does he or she treat cases like anxiety?

A counselor is a person trained (with the proper education and license) to offer professional feedback on matters, guiding the patient’s thoughts and feelings as well as protecting them. Some specialize in the area of anxiety and stress reduction. They can offer sessions face-to-face in office or remotely using the phone or Internet.

Many people hesitate to see a therapist because of the fear of judgment. It is advisable to change therapists if you or your loved one is uncomfortable. Comfort and confidentiality is essential to the treatment environment.

How to Support a Family Member Struggling with Anxiety

Manpreet Lehal, LPCS

Manpreet Lehal, LPCS, is a counselor & founder of Wake Counseling & Mediation, PLLC. She also has certification in Family & Divorce Mediation & Parent Coordination.

APA Reference
Lehal, M. (2018). How to Support a Family Member Struggling with Anxiety. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Oct 2018 (Originally: 12 Sep 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Oct 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.