Mental health conditions are on the rise around the globe, and anxiety disorder is one of the most prevalent and prominent mental disorders. Feeling helpless is constant for someone dealing with this disorder, and it can affect almost every sphere of their life. If your partner suffers from an anxiety disorder, chances are your life is also heavily affected by it. Your emotional well-being will fluctuate as you might have to take more responsibility for the household, children, and the overall relationship. It can also strain your financial well-being and social life.
Anxiety disorder can’t be cured completely, but the sufferer can tone down the effects through medication and therapy. Various mental health well-being organizations offer marriage and anxiety counseling sessions, and you and your partner can benefit from them.
Below we have listed six ways to support your partner if they suffer from an anxiety disorder.
Don’t Try to Fix It
People with anxiety often complain that their partners actively try to ‘fix’ their disorder. This might come off as offending and demeaning to them. As much as you’d like to help them overcome their condition, mental disorders never go away. You might put in the effort with good intentions but they will only strain your relationship with your partner.
Instead of trying to eradicate the problem, make them feel loved and tell them that you’re here for them. Try to engage in self-care together to help them relax. You can do meditation and breathing exercises with your partner, and practice mindfulness. Encourage them to take counseling or psychotherapy, ask them about their progress, and tell them that you’re always there to support them.
The best way to support your partner is to research anxiety. Many suffering from anxiety don’t get the required support from their partners because they don’t understand how it affects them. Simple, day-to-day tasks might become difficult for those suffering from this disorder, and a loving partner can offer a helping hand when the sufferer truly needs it.
Talking to your partner is the best way to learn about anxiety. Everyone has different triggers. Sit down with your partner and discuss what they face during an episode. Note their triggers, and try to identify them when they show the symptoms.
You can also find various articles and resources online that discuss the general conditions of the disorder. They’re also good sources to learn about anxiety.
Know the Signs and Triggers
Anxiety triggers are different for everyone. A person dealing with social anxiety might want to avoid one-to-one conversations. On the other hand, someone might get triggered while they’re in a situation that spirals out of control. Talk to your partner to understand what triggers their anxiety. It could be due to an adverse situation or a specific phobia. If allowed, you could also talk to their therapist to gather more information about avoiding triggers and what to do if they get an anxiety attack.
There are some common symptoms of an anxiety attack. Your partner will feel restless, have shortness of breath, have an increased heart rate, inability to concentrate or have trouble sleeping. Some of them are immediate indicators of an anxiety attack. Some others prevail for a few days before an attack occurs.
Practice Strong Communication
When you’re dating or married to someone with a mental disorder, nothing helps strengthen the relationship further than communication. Having a mental disorder such as anxiety comes with insecurities. They need validation occasionally, so appreciate your partner and let them know how happy you are to have them in your life. Rather than displaying disappointment and anger when they can’t stick to their regular life due to anxiety, tell them that you understand and you’re there to help.
Make them Feel Safe
Anxiety can make people feel unwanted. They’re often worried about their condition and think that they don’t deserve love. They often feel unsafe, and this can also trigger their anxiety. So, try to make them feel safe, and do it as often as possible. When they’re going through an attack, tell them that you’re there for them and you will stay until it passes.
Fear is one of the main causes of anxiety. You might label it as irrational, but the fear is valid to your partner. Never try to invalidate it because it’ll make them feel more unwanted.
Anxiety is often caused by uncontrollable situations. You, as a partner, can create strong and healthy boundaries and prevent that attacks from taking place to some extent. Boundaries mean what you can and can’t do for your partner. If you’ll be unavailable for the next few hours or days, communicate it with your partner. Let them know that you’re unable to text back in so and so hours or while you’re at work. Offer them help, but draw lines where you’re unable to do so. Promises give birth to expectations, and unmet expectations can lead to anxiety attacks. Try to play your role and set strong boundaries to comfort your partner and take some of the load off of yourself.
Anxiety disorder can cause significant damage to your relationship if you don’t know how to deal with it. However, with proper research and effort, you can become the strength of your partner and help them cope with the condition much better.