What Not to Say to Someone with Anxiety: Help From A Birmingham Therapist.

While your intentions may be well-meaning, there are instances where your words might unintentionally unsettle someone dealing with anxiety. Anxiety can be a crippling and isolating condition, affecting millions of people worldwide. Those who experience anxiety often seek support through various means, including anxiety counseling and therapy.

As a Birmingham Anxiety Therapist, I’ve had the privilege of working with individuals facing anxiety disorders and have observed how words can either provide comfort or unintentionally exacerbate their struggles. This article will explore what not to say to someone with anxiety to foster better communication and understanding.

Anxiety disorders stand as the prevailing mental health challenge in the United States, impacting roughly one out of every five adults, as reported by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. This statistic implies that there’s a high probability you have a connection with someone – be it a family member, partner, confidant, or colleague – grappling with an anxiety disorder.

If you’ve never encountered debilitating anxiety – that is, anxiety surpassing a typical stress response – comprehending what someone in such a situation endures can prove quite challenging. Keep an eye out for these critical phrases when exploring topics related to Anxiety Counseling, Anxiety Therapy, and Birmingham Anxiety Therapists.

a girl crying/ Anxiety help Birmingham

What are the signs of anxiety?

Symptoms of anxiety can vary from person to person, but several common indicators of stress include:

  1. Elevated heart rate
  2. Muscle tension
  3. Restlessness
  4. Perspiration
  5. Tremors
  6. Sleep disturbances
  7. Irritability
  8. Overthinking
  9. Agitation
  10. Difficulty concentrating or focusing.

There are various types of anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and various phobias.

How does anxiety differ from ordinary nervousness?

Ordinary nervousness, often called “jitters,” is a brief and mild unease or nervousness. It is a common experience before events like public speaking, starting a new job, going on a first date, or taking an exam. Jitters are typically short-lived and can be considered a normal response to certain situations.

In contrast, anxiety is a broader and more persistent mental health condition. Anxiety disorders involve more intense and enduring feelings of worry, fear, or apprehension that can significantly disrupt a person’s daily life. Anxiety disorders typically go beyond transient nervousness.

a girlfriend upsetting her boyfriend by saying the wrong thing to someone with anxiety/ Anxiety help/ Birmingham AL

What to avoid saying to someone with anxiety?

Interacting with someone who has anxiety can be challenging, as individuals with anxiety may be sensitive to the words and actions of those around them. If you’re unsure about what to say to someone with anxiety, it’s a good idea to steer clear of the following:

Instead, offering support, listening empathetically, and asking them how you can assist them during their anxious moments is often more helpful.

1.    “Just Relax”: Get Anxiety Help Birmingham

This phrase, while well-intentioned, oversimplifies the complexity of anxiety disorders. Telling someone to “just relax” can be dismissive and make them feel unheard. Anxiety is a complex condition, and anxiety therapy or counseling is often necessary to address its underlying causes.

Instead, try: “I’m here for you. How can I support you right now?”

2.    “It’s all in your head”

Minimizing someone’s anxiety by suggesting that it’s purely a mental issue can be hurtful. Anxiety often involves a mix of physical and emotional symptoms, and the person may be well aware of the distressing physical sensations they experience.

Instead, try: “I understand that this is challenging for you. How can I help you cope with your anxiety symptoms?”

A young man consoling an older man

3.     “Get over it”

Telling someone to “snap out of it” implies that they can simply will their anxiety away, which is not the case. Anxiety therapy and counseling help individuals develop coping strategies and work through their anxiety over time.

Avoid saying “Get over it” to someone with anxiety, as it can mistakenly suggest that they have complete control over their condition. Instead, try offering empathetic support by saying something like, “I’m here for you, and I understand that dealing with anxiety can be challenging.

Let’s talk about what you’re going through, and if you’d like, I can help you find resources or professionals who can assist you in managing your anxiety.”

Instead, try: “I know this is difficult, but you’re not alone. Let’s find ways to manage your anxiety together.”

4.    “You worry too much”: Instead Try Anxiety Help in Birmingham

Pointing out excessive worry may unintentionally make someone with anxiety feel guilty or ashamed. Anxiety disorders often involve excessive and irrational worries, and they need support to manage these thoughts effectively.

Avoid saying, “You worry too much,” to someone with anxiety, as it can inadvertently make them feel guilty or ashamed. Instead, offer support and understanding by saying something like, “I can see that you’re going through a tough time. How can I help you manage your worries?” This shows empathy and willingness to assist them in dealing with their anxiety.

Instead, try: “I see that you’re going through a tough time. How can I assist you in easing your worries?”

5.    “You’re making a big deal out of nothing”

“It’s important to acknowledge and validate their feelings when someone is dealing with anxiety. Recognizing that their perception of the situation may be influenced by their anxiety disorder is crucial, and their emotions are entirely valid. Instead of dismissing their concerns, try saying something like, ‘I understand this situation might be challenging for you. How can I support you through it?'”

Instead, try: “I understand this is important to you, and I’m here to listen.”

one friend consoling another friend while sitting on sofa

6.    “I know how you feel”

While empathy is essential, it’s important to acknowledge that everyone’s experience with anxiety is unique. Saying you know how they feel might unintentionally invalidate their struggle.

Instead of saying “I know how you feel,” which can be insensitive to someone with anxiety, it’s more helpful to express empathy without presuming to understand their situation completely. You could say, “I can’t fully understand what you’re going through, but I’m here to support you and listen if you want to talk.” This approach acknowledges their feelings while respecting the uniqueness of their experience with anxiety.

Instead, try: “I may not completely understand, but I’m here to support you through this.”

7.    Offering Unsolicited Advice

Jumping in with advice can overwhelm someone with anxiety. They may have already explored various coping strategies through anxiety therapy, and offering unsolicited advice can make them feel like their efforts are being dismissed.

8.    “Calm Down”

“Using the phrase ‘Calm down’ may not be the best approach when speaking to someone with anxiety. Instead, it’s more helpful to offer empathetic support and reassurance. You can say something like, ‘I understand that you’re feeling anxious right now. Is there anything I can do to support you or help you feel more comfortable?'”

A sad woman with another woman's hand on her shoulder.

9.    “You’ll Be Fine”

It’s important not to say, “You’ll be fine,” to someone with anxiety, as it can minimize their feelings and may not be helpful. Instead, try saying something like, “I understand this is tough for you. Is there anything I can do to support you right now?” This shows empathy and offers assistance, which can be more comforting and reassuring for someone experiencing anxiety.

10. “Snap Out Of It”: Instead try Anxiety Help in Birmingham

“Snap out of it” is not an appropriate thing to say to someone with anxiety, as anxiety is not a choice and cannot be easily dismissed. Instead, it’s better to offer support and understanding by saying something like, “I’m here for you,” or “Is there anything I can do to help you feel more comfortable?” This shows empathy and a willingness to assist them in managing their anxiety.

11. “You Should Try Harder To Control It”

It’s important to be supportive when speaking to someone with anxiety. Instead of saying, “You should try harder to control it,” you can say, “I understand that it’s challenging for you.

Is there anything specific that might help you manage your anxiety better, or would you like to talk about what’s causing it?” This approach shows empathy and opens the door for a more constructive conversation about their feelings and needs.

Instead, try: “Is there anything specific that helps you manage your anxiety that you’d like to share?”

12. “What do you have to be anxious about”

“It’s important to be sensitive when addressing someone’s anxiety. Instead of asking ‘What do you have to be anxious about?’ which may inadvertently minimize their concerns, consider saying something like, ‘I’m here to support you through your anxiety. Is there anything you’d like to talk about or any way I can help you with your anxiety therapy?'”

a woman consoling an older woman

13.  “You Are Being Too Sensitive”

It’s important to be mindful of their emotional sensitivities, especially in anxiety therapy. Instead of saying ‘You are being too sensitive,’ you can offer support and understanding by saying, ‘I’m here to listen and support you through whatever you’re feeling.

In the context of anxiety counseling and therapy, it’s crucial to be considerate of their emotional sensitivities. Instead of saying, “You are being too sensitive,” which may inadvertently invalidate their feelings, you can provide support and empathy by saying, “I’m here to actively listen and support you as you navigate your emotions.” This approach fosters a more understanding and helpful environment during anxiety therapy.

14. “Why Don’t You Just Face Your Fears”

Instead of saying, “Why don’t you just face your fears,” which may not be helpful to someone with anxiety, you can express your support and understanding of their situation.

Try saying something like, “I understand that facing fears can be challenging, especially when dealing with anxiety. “How can I support you in managing your anxiety?” Have you considered seeking professional help like anxiety counseling or therapy?” It might provide you with effective strategies to cope with your anxiety.”

This approach shows empathy, offers assistance, and encourages them to explore professional resources for managing their anxiety.

15. “You Are Very Uptight”: Instead try Anxiety Help in Birmingham.

It’s important to be sensitive when communicating with someone who has anxiety. Instead of telling them, “You are very uptight,” which can be impolite and hurtful, try expressing your support and understanding. You can say something like, “I notice you might be feeling a bit anxious right now, and that’s completely okay. Is there anything I can do to help you feel more comfortable or relaxed?”

This approach shows empathy and offers assistance without judgment, creating a more supportive atmosphere for someone experiencing anxiety. For more effective support, consider seeking anxiety counseling or therapy if needed.

16. “But It’s Such A Nice Day”

Avoid saying, “It’s so nice out” or “Enjoy the sunshine” to someone anxious. Weather-related comments may not always be appropriate, as the weather or surroundings do not usually influence anxiety symptoms.

Instead, try to be supportive and empathetic by asking how they’re feeling or offering a more general expression of care, such as “I’m here for you” or “Is there anything I can do to help?” Understanding their anxiety and being there for them can make a more positive impact on their well-being. In situations related to anxiety counseling or therapy, it’s crucial to encourage open communication and provide a safe space for them to express their feelings.

17.  “Are you sure?”

It’s important to be mindful of what not to say to someone with anxiety. Asking, “Are you sure?” can unintentionally make them feel invalidated or misunderstood.

Instead, you can express your support and understanding by saying, “I’m here for you. How can I help you feel more comfortable or manage your anxiety?” This shows empathy and opens the door for a productive conversation about their needs.

If needed, encourage them to consider seeking professional help, such as anxiety counseling or therapy, to address their symptoms effectively.

a smiling woman after anxiety help Birmingham Al


Supporting someone with anxiety involves empathy, patience, and understanding. Avoiding these hurtful comments can foster better communication and strengthen your relationship with them. Remember that anxiety therapy and counseling are essential tools for those struggling with anxiety, and professional help is often necessary.

As a Birmingham Anxiety Therapist, I encourage open and compassionate conversations with those who are facing anxiety. Hence, they know they are not alone on their journey to healing and recovery.

Start therapy for anxiety with one of our knowledgeable and compassionate counselors, Marti, Savannah, Lucia, and Kathryn.

Anxiety help is not the only service we offer at our Birmingham Area counseling clinic. KathrynMartiSavannah, and Lucia offer counseling for depressionanxiety counseling, treatment for eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, bipolar treatment, women’s issues, traumaPTSD, and counseling for perfectionism.

We offer our services online throughout the state of ALabama and in person in our Mountain Brook offices to teens with teen counseling, counseling for college students at Samford University, The University of AlabamaAuburn University, and all colleges in the state of Alabama, young adultsadults, and professionals.

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