Love is a beautiful feeling. One feels empowered on knowing that he or she is loved. However, loving a person struggling with an anxiety disorder could be challenging. Anxiety disorders are one of the most prevalent mental problems in the United States, affecting nearly 40 million adults annually.
Anxiety affects almost all areas of one’s life – work, health, relationships, etc. To build a strong foundation, it is important to understand how anxiety disorders affect one of the partners and how can one cope with it in a way that only strengthens a relationship.
To achieve this, it is indispensable to remember a few things that can help one to build a loving and respectful relationship. Some of these things are detailed here:
- A person struggling with anxiety thinks that he or she may die: During a panic attack, one may start palpitating, have a racing heartbeat and may also sweat profusely. He or she may want to puke or even pass out. These feelings are for real and not exaggerated.
- Need to be patient with the affected person: A person struggling with anxiety disorder already has a lot going on in his or her life. It is, therefore, the duty of the other partner to be patient, compassionate and kind. Help him/her with the daily chores and encourage to take one day at a time.
- They don’t want to be defined by their anxiety alone: There is so much more to a person than his or her anxiety alone. However, people have a tendency to get blindsided by mental illnesses. They thus fail to realize that the person who suffers from anxiety is like any other human being with all the complexities. Typecasting someone can be demotivating and it can jeopardize a relationship.
- Anxiety can get tiring: Anxiety can be exhausting. People dealing with anxiety are hyperventilating and always on an alert. This hyperventilation can be tiring as the body is in fight-or-flight mode. Situations that people without anxiety can navigate through easily become tiring for the affected person.
- Anxiety can be overwhelming: Anxiety can easily overwhelm a person. Any source of light, noise or any sight can be disturbing and overpowering for a person suffering from it. Any change in a routine can be unnerving. Thus, it is important to understand and empathize with them, rather than criticizing for something over which they have no control.
- They don’t like being asked ‘are you okay’ every time: It is unhelpful to ask an anxious person if he or she is doing alright because they are not, especially when anxiety hits him/her in full swing. The question can hurt him/her. One can, on the contrary, ask supportive questions like “can I be of any help to you,” “I’m here for you, you know that,” etc. These are more reassuring and convincing that can be used to appease someone.
- They appreciate support – Sometimes, to the other person, it might seem like an anxiety patient is so full of himself or herself and ignoring the one who cares. It is important to understand that he/she is not ignoring, rather dealing with own set of challenges most of the time.
Road to recovery
Sometimes, despite support, people with anxiety find their lives taking a downward spiral with each passing day. Trying self-help techniques provides a short-term recourse. It is important to seek professional help, which may comprise medication and behavioral therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy to alleviate the symptoms.