13 Things NOT To Say To Someone With Anxiety

I’ve been pretty open with my struggles with anxiety. Unfortunately, it’s gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. And recently, I’ve been struggling quite a bit. I haven’t been sleeping well, I’m nervous about things that didn’t bother me a few months ago and I find myself worrying a lot more than usual. It’s okay, I’m doing what I need to do in order to take care of it, but it’s still kind of scary.

I’m happy to talk about my anxiety because I don’t want anyone to feel alone if they’re struggling too. I didn’t have anyone to talk to for a long time. And people also didn’t want to discuss mental issues before. I think we still have a long way to go in terms of discussing mental illness, but I’m glad that it’s slowly becoming less taboo.

One thing that bothers me though is that people don’t take the time to understand it. It’s frustrating and some people can be really insensitive. In general, just don’t say things like this to people with anxiety.

“Just calm down.”

Oh okay! Yeah, I’ll just calm down right after this panic attack. It’s not a big deal, I’m just sort of hyperventilating a bit. Yeah, you telling me to calm down is exactly what I needed to hear, thanks so much!

“Are you nervous?”

Are you going to keep asking me that every time we do something? If so, I have other less annoying people I can hang out with.

“It’s okay, I get anxious about things too.”

O RLY? YOU DO? Maybe you do, but being anxious and having anxiety are not the same thing. You being a little nervous before presenting in class is not the same as the crippling fear I have when I walk outside every morning, kthanks.

“But you HAVE to come!”

Yeah, no I don’t.

“It’s just a party.”

And you’re just irritating me. Anxiety attack plus party plus people does not make for a good time to me.

“There really aren’t that many people here.”

One person can feel like a million people to me at any given time so yeah there ARE that many people here. And you do not feel crowds the same way that I do so just stop talking.

“Why did you even come?”

Why would you even say something like that? Maybe I wanted to hang out and see people because I was feeling okay and then was overwhelmed and couldn’t help it. Or maybe I’m reacting to your ignorance, I don’t really know.

“But you’re not always like this.”

Yeah because some days are better than others. And some days I hide how I’m feeling so I can avoid jerk statements like the one you just said.

“You know [insert dumb statistic here] is more likely to happen, right?”

You know I’m more likely to ignore you for the rest of today, right? Having anxiety means I have irrational fears that seriously bother me and make it hard to live my life like a normal person. I don’t need you to give me some BS statistics about how sharks are more afraid of me than I am of them.

“Are you medicated?”

Are you? It’s none of your business.

“You should try being more positive.”

You should try shutting your mouth. Do I want to be able to see the world in your rainbow colored sparkly glasses? Sure. But I can’t sometimes because I literally think I’m going to die 75% of the time. I can tell you a million things that will go wrong with an activity because my brain is convinced that something bad will happen.

“Conquering your fears is the only way you’re going to get rid of them.”

LOL OKAY. One of my exes tried that by throwing me into the ocean unannounced and there was a shark in the water. I had a full-blown panic attack on a boat.

“Anxiety isn’t a real thing. It’s just in your head.”

Did… did you really just say that?
Do you have anxiety? Do people ever ask you stupid questions? What’s the worst thing someone has ever said to you? Tell us in the comments!

Don’t say dumb things to people with depression either.

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Posted in: Mental Health Facts
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  • Terry

    I am so glad to have found this page. I just found out a friend, new to me, suffers from anxiety. Since he suggested I not contact him now, I thought I would look up to see what ‘not to say’ to someone who suffers from anxiety attacks. I was being sympathetic but still managed to say something wrong. This has been very helpful. Panic and anxiety attacks sounds so overwhelming, terrifying, etc and so hard to understand from the outside. I am reading to understand. Thank you for writing this

  • Anonymous

    Someone once told me that anxiety isn’t an actual condition and that I just made it up because I like being alone

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  • ellie

    im glad i read this just in case i ever say something that stupid

  • Norm

    10. Aw, expiration dates are total B. S.!

    9. I don’t think there ARE any venimous spiders/snakes.insects/squirrels in this part of the country. ARE there?

    8. Jeez, I sure hope this plane doesn’t have one of those Chinese made tail sections.

    7. Never mind that squeaking in the walls. It’s just the bats.

    6. 468 days without an accident? You’re KIDDING! How much longer can THAT go on?

    5. You had the chicken parm? Me, too. I feel like CRAP! 😛

    4. Is your seat belt fastened? Good. I saw this in a cartoon, but I’m pretty sure I can do it. (Stephen Wright)

    3. Are your pupils the same size?

    2. He’s probably NOT a terrorist.

    1. AWW, GAAAHD, NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Leslie King

    This post is severely agitating. It is clinically a psychological mental illness, which is why doctors prescribe sedatives, tranquilizers, and muscle relaxers to aid a person ‘suffering’ from anxiety. In truth, it is all in your head, and you need to get a grip on life, because you’re losing it. And stop being so anal about everything. Geez.

    • GRR

      Do you have more than one brain cell? Or even an ounce of empathy. You are doing entirely what this post is telling people not to do, and in turn making people with anxiety feel a whole lot worse about themselves and their problem. Maybe think next time before you open your mouth.

    • EP

      Leslie King, you really are as dumb as a shoe. Talk about hoist by your own petard!

  • Vanessa

    My sister has convinced herself that I fake it for attention -_- makes me so mad. I don’t see why anyone would WANT to feel like their struggling to breathe every time they meet a new person, or get dizzy when you get a C on a chem test because your brain is too out of whack to be able to absorb anything new. I really dont remember half of 2013 because not only was a depressed, I was having panick attacks on a daily basis for no particular reason.

  • MJ

    This post just… annoys me.

  • Amy

    Thanks Maggie, I’ll look into it. 🙂

  • rayley

    This is specifically social anxiety, not every anxious person is like this. I think you should probably point this out!

  • Alex

    I have anxiety, but it’s not social anxiety. Mine is worse if I’m alone or on a one-on-one situation with someone. It’s generally better if I’m surrounded by people (generally.)

  • Angelica

    I’ve dealt with anxiety for 3 years and it is the worst experience ever. Two years ago I basically ruined my life. My anxiety was soooo bad I couldn’t get out of bed or even talk to my friends. I’m a little better now but I miss pre-anxiety days so much. Anxiety has taken so much from my life and people just don’t understand that it’s not a choice and it’s not just being shy. Finally, someone understands.

  • Amy

    I think I may have anxiety, I know I’ve had panic attacks before and I’m always uncomfortable in a crowd. It’s become so bad I can’t go to school cause of the huge amount of students! If I go into a busy shopping centre I just feel horrible and get really dazed and just want to get out of there! Do you think this sounds like anxiety?

    • Maggie

      It sounds like you may have agoraphobia (you are avoiding places because you’ve had panic attacks in them previously). If it’s so bad that you cannot attend school you should look into talking to a psychologist. Anxiety can become a really big problem when it interferes with your day to day life.
      I hope you feel better and remember that whenever you’re feeling anxious that the anxiety will always come down !

  • Fran

    I have diagnosed anxiety disorder and this is so true!

  • Katherine

    Oh my god this is so true, I suffer with anxiety and sometimes it really feels like no one understands how hard it is; I even struggle to go in the shower and wash my face because I am so irrationally afraid of sharks!

  • Amanda

    Reacting this poorly to what is obviously ignorance isn’t helping the situation either. I’ve had my share of panic attacks, sometimes I even hear voices in my head, but when it comes to people asking these questions 9 times out of 10 they are simply trying to help. They just don’t know how.

    Pick a time when you aren’t feeling low, and talk to them. If they really care, then they’ll want to understand. If not, screw ’em! You don’t have to associate with them.

    I just don’t think getting angry like this solves anything. All the examples you give seem like they came from the same type of conversation, so at this point you have to know what’s coming from your ignorant friends. Why even engage at this point? And if you have to engage them, why react in the same way by telling them to “stop talking” and “leave me alone” or sarcastically explaining you situation. Try having a frank conversation. It works wonders.

    • Sarah

      I agree completely, Amanda.

      The tone of this article is overwhelmingly negative and frankly in parts comes across as superior.

      Yes, you have anxiety. No, not everybody understands and yes, some people will be insensitive about it.

      But two wrongs certainly do not make a right.

  • Sabrina

    This is actually perfect. I have pretty bad anxiety and sometimes it seems like no one gets it at all. Especially about parties.

  • themagicunicorn

    Oh my god Caitlin, THANK YOU SO MUCH. I thought I was the only one. This is my life, and I can’t stand it.

  • Pearl

    hits it right on the nail.