If you want to know how to help, here are some ideas coming from a person with anxiety, panic disorder, and ptsd:
1. Listen. What they are saying may be completely irrational to you, but telling them they are wrong will only push them to spiral down further.
2. Be patient: It’s hard to understand another’s anxiety even if you have it yourself. DO NOT ask probing questions. Instead help them gain back control. When I was at my worst, my mum would bring me water and my medication and say “this is here if you decide you need it.” She was giving me direction without making me feel weaker. *This will not work for everyone and did not always work for me. It is just one example.*
3. Be respectful: Yes it can be incredibly frustrating to perceive that someone you know and care about is self-destructing. We are talking about a chemical imbalance here and I can promise you that we would not choose this for ourselves. If you are struggling to understand why or how anxiety (or something else) occurs or find yourself angry about it, talk to a knowledgable doctor. Do not discuss someone’s “situation” with other people. Yes we all need to vent but you will do more damage than you can imagine. You can directly and indirectly make it much harder for them to make any progress. For example, after a few girls told everyone I was “crazy”, (my heart went into a dangerous rhythm from an allergic reaction to medication and was put under watch in the hospital, thank you very much), students in my classes who I had never met would ask me what it was like to be in a “psych ward.” I’ve never been to one so I don’t know, but I would think that it could be a possible step in the right direction for those who need it. I seriously considered dropping out of school.
4. Ask them for help: when your sister is in a good place, take the opportunity to ask her how you can help. Tell her that you do not understand and need advice to make it better for both of you. She may have suggestions, or you could both go to therapy together to learn how to best respond to each other. Remember that asking for help is the first step to getting better, and that this applies to everything in life. Good Luck