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Understanding Anxiety and Depression: Supporting Your Loved Ones

Anxiety and depression are common mental health conditions that affect many. Understanding the signs and symptoms of these conditions is important for offering support to your loved ones who may be experiencing them.

What is anxiety?

Contrary to the stereotypes, anxiety is not just feeling worried or stressed from time to time. It’s an intense, persistent feeling of fear or worry that can interfere with daily life. Some common signs of anxiety include:

  • Excessive worrying about everyday things
  • Feeling restless or on edge
  • Trouble concentrating or sleeping
  • Muscle tension
  • Panic attacks, which are sudden episodes of intense fear or discomfort

What is depression?

Depression is more than just feeling sad or down. It’s a serious mental health condition that affects how a person thinks, feels, and handles daily activities. Some common signs of depression include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Fatigue or loss of energy

How can you support your loved ones?

If you notice signs of anxiety or depression in someone you care about, there are several ways you can offer support:

  • Be there to listen. Let your loved one know you are there to listen to them without judgment. Sometimes, just having someone to talk to can make a big difference.
  • Educate yourself. Learn more about anxiety and depression so you can better understand what your loved one is going through. Knowledge is empowering and can help you provide better support.
  • Offer practical help. Assist your loved one with everyday tasks that may feel overwhelming for them. This could be anything from running errands to helping with household chores.
  • Encourage professional help. Encourage your loved one to seek help from a mental health professional, such as a therapist or counselor. Offer to help them find resources or accompany them to appointments if they’re comfortable with it.
  • Practice self-care. Taking care of yourself is important too. Make sure you’re getting enough rest, eating well, and doing things that you enjoy. You’ll be better able to support your loved one if you’re feeling your best.
  • Be patient and understanding. Recovery from anxiety and depression takes time, so be patient with your loved one. Offer them your support and understanding throughout their journey.
  • Stay connected. Continue to check in with your loved one regularly, even if they seem to be doing better. Let them know that you’re there for them no matter what.

Understanding the signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression is the first step toward providing support to your loved ones who may be struggling. You can make a positive difference in their lives by being there to listen, offering practical help, and encouraging professional support. Remember to take care of yourself too, and don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you need it. Quartz mental well-being programs with AbleTo can help you take care of yourself. The AbleTo app includes sample stress management and meditation exercises. Eligible members can schedule one-on-one coaching or therapy within five business days. You can learn more here.

Visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness’s website for content about helping your loved ones with their mental well-being for more tips.

A person holds two younger persons tight as they all have a smile on their face and an impression of comfort

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