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The secret to better mental health? Not keeping it a secret.

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If you’re dealing with mental health issues like panic attacks or trauma symptoms, you might think it’s best to keep it to yourself. After all, it’s personal. You don’t want anyone judging you.

Another word for that? Stigma. Stigma doesn’t just come from others. It can also come from you judging yourself. Whatever the source, stigma can get in the way of healing.

Here’s the reality: Having people you can talk to can be better for your mental health. Research suggests that people who feel supported by others in their life are more resilient and better able to cope with stress.1

In fact, some experts believe that social ties can make a difference in who develops PTSD after a traumatic experience, and who doesn’t.2 And for those with PTSD, support from people who care may help with treatment and recovery.3

Start the conversation. If you’ve been in the habit of keeping things to yourself, it can take some courage to start sharing more openly.

Here are some ideas that may make it easier.

Share an article. You may know your condition or your symptoms all too well. But if it’s brand new to the person you want to confide in, a little education may help them understand what you’re going through.

Put it in writing. Sometimes it’s easier to write down what you’re feeling than it is to say it out loud. Even a text message explaining what’s going on may help to start a conversation.

Describe how your symptoms affect you. You might say something like, “I know I haven’t been around much recently. I’ve been having panic attacks when I leave home. They’re really scary. I’ve been staying home to avoid them.”

Offer a way they could support you (or vice versa). For example, “Your friendship is important to me. I’m not feeling up for going out to crowded places right now, but what would you say to ordering pizza at my place next weekend?”

Tell them about the steps you’re taking. Maybe you’ve made an appointment with your doctor to talk about what’s going on. Or you’re thinking about getting treatment but are nervous about it.

Be the kind of friend you need in return. A relationship is a two-way street. Listen to what’s going on with the people you care about, too. Look for ways to support them and be there for them.

Want to read more about mental health and relationships? Check out our blog.

Looking for treatment for panic attacks or PTSD symptoms? Freespira may be an option. Freespira is medication-free and can be used right at home. It takes less than a month to complete.

See if Freespira is right for you by taking our free online symptom assessment.

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