Anxiety and relationships are a tricky combination. When you already struggle to keep your emotions and fears in check, allowing yourself to be emotionally entangled with and vulnerable to another person can be confusing, overwhelming, and challenging.
Anxious people tend to require a great deal of reassurance, which can be draining to their partners, only adding to the stress of the situation. Those who are able to recognize their irrational or anxious behavior end up blaming themselves for acting out the same patterns over and over again and feeling helpless to stop it.
The National Institute of Mental Health reports that up to 18 percent of adults in the United States live with an anxiety disorder, with up to 23 percent of those cases being classified as “severe.” This makes it one of the most common and treatable mental illnesses, and yet, it’s still misunderstood and stigmatized.
Anxiety can create states that are so intolerable that we are compelled to take actions that are impulsive and misguided. In relationships, this could mean some sort of acting out that is destructive, quickly jumping to conclusions, or making decisions that will not bring desired results. If you find that your anxiety makes you impulsive in relationships, it can be important to slow down, be still, and think through anything you are doing. If it is simply just to relieve anxiety, try and find a better solution that won’t result in increased problems and stress.
Dealing with anxiety and panic is tiring, even if you are not the one experiencing it. Constantly having to assess whether your partner is comfortable and functioning takes a lot of energy. The basics of adequate sleep, good nutrition, exercise, and pleasurable activities–both with and without your partner–will help you ride the waves of anxiety and panic with your partner (and actually, those suggestions will work for your partner as well!)
Although anxiety can impact a relationship in many different ways, the important thing to remember is that anxiety is a treatable disorder. Treatment often consists of a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and medication. Oftentimes, couples therapy will be a component of treatment so that each partner can work to support each other as they work through the process of better understanding, and recognizing, the impact anxiety has on their relationship.
If you, or your partner, struggle with a level of anxiety that is having a negative impact on your relationship, please call us – we can help.