Things to remember when loving someone with anxiety

Anxiety is tough, isn’t it? Not just for the people that have it, but for you – the people that stick with them – while they’re going through it. It’s emotionally taxing on both ends, it’s physically demanding at times, and of course mentally demanding most of the time.

Plans have to be changed to accommodate the anxiety. Situations have to be avoided at times. Planning has to be just that bit more thorough. Emotional needs can change daily. It’s a lot to work through, and it can be hard to get in their head to understand on top of that.

It’s understandably confusing at times, so consider this your cheat sheet. 13 things for you to remember when loving someone with anxiety: 


Why we are not wired to see the good in life

You may or may not have heard by now that our brain is wired to pay attention more frequently, and with greater veracity, to what’s negative. This doesn’t mean that the good moments in life aren’t happening. We’re just not wired to pay attention to them.


Because as a human race, we’re wired to survive, not be happy.


I have a theory that in this moment in time we’re going through an evolution as a species. Because of the overabundance of things pulling our attention, we’re forced to expand our awareness—the kind of awareness that breeds balance, well-being, and a greater sense of what matters.

So people are being turned onto mindfulness more. More spaces are offering it, more institutions are studying it, and there’s greater media to get the word out about it.

Mindfulness provides us with awareness and the opportunity to take wise actions to further balance this negativity bias.

This is an evolution of an enduring happiness. Are you on board?

One of the simple things we can do when we become aware of our current conditioning is be on the lookout for the happy moments. By “happy moments,” I don’t mean just the drunken pleasures of life. I mean the whole spectrum—from the small delights of enjoying a hot cup of tea, the sunshine splashing on your face, watching your child do something new for the first time (instead of being on your phone), or even feeling the relief from anxiety or depressive symptoms.

It’s about recognizing on a deep level that like the life of a butterfly or a flower, life is short and precious.

Mindfulness provides the opening, and then we have to intentionally notice these as they arise. From there we can make the choice to savor, appreciate, and be grateful for them.

One thing I talk about in Uncovering Happiness is that there are things we can do to ignite out natural anti-depressants and uncover that enduring sense of well-being. These micro-happy-moments of life can create small shifts in the brain that if practiced, savored and repeated can encourage positive neuroplasticity and an anti-depressant brain.

Take time today—maybe even this moment—to consider: what’s good right now? And if you notice something, let it linger…


Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and conducts a private practice in West Los Angeles. He is author of Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion (Atria Books, 2015), The Now Effect (Atria Books, 2012), Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler (Atria Books, 2013), and co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook (New Harbinger, 2010).


Depression – faculty member shares his story

It’s not every day that respected academics reveal their personal struggles, especially to a big audience of colleagues and strangers. So a recent talk by Peter Railton at the University of Michigan, is making the rounds on social media. Railton’s topic? His battle with depression, which he says he’s hidden for too long.

Railton advised those who suspect friends or colleagues are suffering to inquire as to their wellness, especially by sharing any of their own experiences with mental health issues. Reflecting on his own major depressive episodes throughout his life, he said, “I couldn’t say it. I couldn’t say, ‘Look, I’m dying inside. I need help.’ Because that’s what depression is — it isn’t sadness or moodiness, it is above all a logic that undermines from within, that brings to bear all the mind’s mighty resources in convincing you that you’re worthless, incapable, unlovable, and everyone would be better off without you.”