DATING SOMEONE WITH ANXIETY
If you are dating someone with anxiety, suddenly you might find yourself alone in this relationship. The person you love might be gone, and you have no idea who is this melancholy person in front of you. If you are in a relationship with someone who has anxiety, you are likely struggling with a mix of emotions and lots of questions. How will the symptoms and treatment impact your relationship? What can you do to help them through hard times? While every person’s experience with anxiety, is unique, here are a few things you can do to help your loved one and yourself. You are not alone. According to the National Comorbidity Study, 19.1% of adults in the USA had any anxiety disorder in the past year.
SYMPTOMS OF ANXIETY
Anxiety is not a cookie-cutter disorder. For each individual, the symptomatology may be different. Some may want to sleep their days and nights away, others cannot sleep because combined with their depression is anxiety, and instead of peacefully drifting to sleep they cannot shut their brain down. These thoughts are typically self-blaming thoughts. They may also include thoughts of dread connected to worst-case scenario outcomes of events or relationships in your life where you imagine failing. Symptoms of anxiety include:
• Excessive worrying
• Feeling Agitated
• Difficulty Concentrating
• Tense muscle
• Trouble falling or Staying asleep
• Panic attacks
• Avoiding social situations
• Irrational fears
Anxiety sucks the life out of life. That’s how it feels. It also looks like a withdrawal. It feels that way too. It’s a withdrawal from everything that is enriching and life-giving. When anxiety bites, everything becomes hard. Life starts to hurt. Those who are bitten stop looking forward to things. They stop engaging and they stop enjoying things, even the things they used to love. They can feel hard to reach, and sometimes they can be angry or appear as though they don’t care. That isn’t because they want to withdraw from you or push you away, they don’t, although it can feel that way.
A great way to support your loved one is to learn everything you need to know about anxiety, including its causes, symptoms, and treatments. Ask your partner’s doctor for some reputable sources that provide the facts about anxiety, or do a quick search yourself on the Internet. You can start with the following reputable sources:
- Mental Health America
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
- National Institute of Mental Health
GET SUPPORT AND TREATMENT
The impact of untreated anxiety extends to all the people closest to the person with anxiety. It is accurate to state that in one way or another most of us have been impacted by depression. Treatment is vitally important to a person’s recovery from depression. You can help your loved one by helping them keep up with taking their medication and remembering appointments. You can also help them by reassuring them that asking for help is not a sign of weakness or something to be ashamed of.
When someone you care about is depressed, it’s OK for you to feel frustrated, angry, and upset. It is very important, however, that you don’t allow these feelings to fester and grow. Therapists, counselors, and support groups are not only for people with anxiety. Seeking professional help for yourself can help you feel supported, vent your frustrations, and make you more aware of your own emotional needs. Therapy can also provide answers to any questions you have about coping with the anxiety attacks of a loved one. Even if you don’t go the mental health professional route, it’s important to lean on your support network during this difficult time.
BE THERE FOR THEM
More than anything else, those with anxiety just want you to care. Seeing you make an effort to understand them will mean the world to them. One of the most important things you can do for someone who has been experiencing anxiety attacks is simply to be there for them and verbalize your support. Hold them close or just listen while they share their feelings. Offer to help them with making appointments or doing some of the daily chores that they are struggling to keep up with. Let them know that you are there for them in whatever way they need while they make their recovery.
DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY
Anxiety can make people behave in ways that they normally wouldn’t when they are feeling well. They may become angry, irritable, or withdrawn. They may not be interested in going out or doing things with you like they used to. Your spouse or significant other may lose interest in sex. When your loved one starts arguments that may seem to be out of nowhere, or blown out of proportion, understand that these things are not personal, and they don’t mean that your partner no longer cares for or about you. They are symptoms of the illness that requires treatment.
THEY’RE NOT LAZY, THEY’RE ILL
One of the common misconceptions of anxiety, that people with anxiety are lazy. This comes from the fact that they can often be messy and unproductive when they are in depressive stages. In fact, this is a direct symptom of anxiety. It is not that they are lazy, it is that they are exhausted, both mentally and physically. Anxiety takes a toll on the mind, often leaving its victims too drained to do the things they would normally do in life, making it hard to even get out of bed.
Calling them lazy for not cleaning or completing tasks will only worsen their depression and feeling of self-worth. Instead, try encouraging them or even offering to help them with these tasks and complete them alongside them.
IS IT OK TO BREAK UP?
Deciding whether or not to end a relationship is a hard decision, and it can be even more difficult when worrying that your ex may sink into a deeper depression post-breakup. Mental illness alone is no excuse to break up with someone. Lots of people with mental health conditions are able to enjoy long-lasting, fulfilling, happy relationships. Just because someone is depressed, doesn’t mean you should write them off. A condition in and of itself is not a reason to break up with somebody.
Although, it might be time to be concerned about your relationship, when mental illness symptoms are getting in the way of your day-to-day life, or your safety is being compromised. You can definitely be in a healthy relationship with someone who has a mental illness but keep an eye out for when things get unhealthy. Some of the tell-tale signs that your relationship is unhealthy: Violence (verbal, physical, or sexual), inability to control emotions, hallucinations, disrespect, lack of remorse or empathy for people or animals, and narcissistic behaviors. If any of these red flags come up, don’t ignore them. Violence or abuse of any capacity should not be tolerated, regardless of mental illness status. Your safety is important, and that comes first.
In general, having a mental illness is not an excuse to treat someone poorly, with disrespect, or lack of empathy. People with mental illnesses are certainly able to treat others with respect and love, just as people without a mental illness may treat you poorly. If you do decide to end your relationship, be conscious of how your words may affect your partner and be sensitive to the issues they are struggling with.
OVERLAND IOP IN LOS ANGELES CALIFORNIA
For people struggling with anxiety, it’s important to have compassion and to take action to overcome this state, including seeking professional help. Remember that the negative thoughts you are experiencing are likely being driven by anxiety, not by a person. Anxiety can lead to the ultimate negative outcome of death, so please consider calling National Hotline if your significant other is experiencing thoughts of self-harm. SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.
There are many types of treatment that have proven to be effective for anxiety treatment, but two are the most effective: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT),
Please don’t ignore it, it is not necessary to live with anxiety. There is treatment and the anxiety can be successfully treated. It is a mind/body issue and should be treated with the same self-compassion and treatment-seeking with which we would treat any major illness. Contact us today via phone, live chat, or contact form submission. We work 24/7.
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