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How To Cope With Anxiety in Your Relationship

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By, Elyssa-Beth Bender

Anxiety and Depression affect nearly one in five adults, yet little attention is given to the impact that these disorders have on intimate relationships. As someone who suffers from anxiety and even times of depression, I am no stranger to the emotional toll anxiety can have on your relationship. It can often time feel as if you are in an emotional love triangle: you, your significant other, and your anxiety; and you’re not alone. Your significant other can also take an emotional toll from your anxiety. How can you keep your anxiety from dictating your relationship?

Loving with Someone with Anxiety/Depression

When being in a relationship with someone who suffers from anxiety or depression, it may seem impossible, at times, to totally understand what your significant other needs. Here are some methods to practice with when your loved one is in a bad place.

  • They are More Than Their Anxiety Depression 
    • No one likes to be defined by one attribute of themselves. If you truly want to be supportive of someone with anxiety, remind them that you appreciate the individual behind the anxiety. Recognize that they are more than just their anxiety.
  • Don’t Pretend Things are Fine
    • While you don’t want to label your significant other to their anxiety/depression, you don’t want to pretend things are fine. Instead of ignoring your significant other’s anxiety, it’s best to confront the challenges of living with anxiety/depression directly. By opening up lines communication, you’re able to maintain a sense of intimacy and trust, in addition to creating a foundation for mutual support. Be careful to be honest about your feelings and never condemn the other person. A great way to do this is by talking about depression or anxiety as something that effects you both rather than personalizing it as “your anxiety/depression”.
  •  Learn About Their Anxiety/Depression
  • Helping Your Significant Other During an Anxiety Attack
    • When their heart is beating fast, their mind races, and their chest is tightening, it can be a scary experience for the significant other. Instead of asking “are you okay?”, try something a little more helpful and constructive. Good examples would be:
  • “Remember your breathing”
  • “Remember to (insert their personal coping technique )”
  • “I’m here if you need me.”
  • “You’re panicking, it won’t last. You’ve got past this before, you’ll get past it again”

But the key to all of this: They are experienced in handling their anxiety; let them get through it however they see fit.

Loving Someone While Living with Anxiety/Depression

Those of us who live with anxiety/depression can often feel complicated, or even a burden to those we love. Not only is it hard for us to always know what we need, but it can be challenging to know what our significant other needs. When in a relationship, we are not alone, though our anxiety/depression may make us feel that way. Here are some steps to help you help your significant other with your anxiety depression.

  • Make The Sacrifices
    •  Relationships are give and take, and if we only take, we are taking advantage of them. Our loved ones can’t always accommodate to our anxiety/depression, though we appreciate it, we have to always keep in mind that we have to make the same sacrifices as they do. Start small,  it will show that you don’t always need to take, but also that you are willing to give.
  • Stop Pretending Things are “Fine”
    • Sometimes when we feel it’s just too complicated to share our inner-most feelings about anxiety/depression. It may seem like the easiest, feeling- sparing way to just say “I’m fine”, when dealing with anxiety/depression. This is not the best way. It is so much better to be honest when asked and tell them what is really going on. They will trust you more and appreciate the fact that you confide and share with them.
  • Ask For and Accept Help
    • Our battle against anxiety is not meant to be fought independently. We need to let go of our personal inhibitions, and ask for help. You don’t need to feel embarrassed, because you’re significant other loves you and only wants you to be happy. While not all the advice or help you receive will  work, but you need to make an effort to accept the help and give it a try.

 

 

 

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