When your partner is suffering from anxiety it can have an impact on you and your relationship. Living with someone who suffers from anxiety can be challenging and the process takes time and patience.
You may be unfamiliar with the symptoms of anxiety but notice your partner is acting differently. It’s not uncommon to feel hopeless and frustrated in not knowing how to support your partner.
Here are 7 important ways to help your partner who is suffering from anxiety.
Know the warning signs of Anxiety
Anxiety looks different for different people so you want to
familiarize yourself with your partner’s symptoms. You want to be able to recognize the onset of the symptoms and encourage professional help as soon as possible. You may be the first to notice behavior changes in your partner and these insights can be valuable during treatment.
Don’t minimize their experience
It’s important not to minimize your partner’s experience or pain in their struggle with anxiety. Anxious people are perceptive and will sense if you think their fears are irrational or silly. Try not to make statements such as; “you shouldn’t feel that way,” or “don’t think about it.” Instead you want to say; I can see you’re very upset, or “that must be so painful for you.” Validating is a critical communication tool and shows you accept your partner.
Don’t be judgmental
There is a sense of shame attached to having anxiety, which can prevent your partner from seeking help for a treatable illness. Remind them that anxiety is a common problem and they shouldn’t be ashamed of it.
Understand what they need
Sit down with your partner and calmly open up dialogue communicating support. Ask him/her what would they like to experience and what would be most helpful to them. Make them feel safe and understood and offer them the things you know will bring them joy and happiness.
Take on some of your partner’s responsibilities
Responsibilities that you consider normal everyday tasks may feel overwhelming to your partner. Taking over some of your partner’s responsibilities, can be very helpful during this time. You want to let them know that you understand and don’t blame them if they cannot meet certain obligations during this difficult period.
Avoid trying to “fix” the issue and encourage your partner to seek help. Ask your partner if they want you to participate in their treatment. Don’t feel that you have to have all the answers. Just offering a hug, and letting them know “we will get through this together” can be comforting to your partner.
Create a supportive environment
Encourage your partner to talk about the way he or she is feeling, thinking or acting and listen empathically. Making sure they are taking care of their physical needs and reminding them to take their medication’s is helpful. Emphasizing that it is not their fault and sharing how much you love them is an important way to support your partner.
Having a partner who’s struggling with anxiety can become stressful for you and your relationship. Team up with your partner to tackle anxiety rather than allowing it to drive your relationship apart. Try your best not to take it personally. It’s important to take care of yourself and seek out your own supports. The good news is anxiety is highly treatable. A combination of medication and talk therapy can help your partner feel better and return to their normal level of functioning.