Anxiety is a serious health condition affecting many people and it can have an impact on your relationship. If your partner is suffering from anxiety during a crisis, it’s hard to know how to help. You may feel that nothing you say or do makes them feel any better leaving you feeling helpless and hopeless. Living with someone who suffers from anxiety during a crisis can be challenging and learning how to support them takes a lot of patience.
Everyone Reacts Differently to a Crisis
The way people respond to a crisis depends on their background, the way they grew up, and the people they surround yourself with. Anxiety causes some people to lose sleep, throw themselves into their work or take the stress out on others. Some have a tendency to bottle up their feelings and others talk about them nonstop. There could be changes in mood and appetite. How is it manifesting in your partner and what can you do to help?
How You Can Support Your Partner
Having positive and reassuring talks will help to keep your partner feeling safe during a crisis. Point out your partner’s strengths and ways in which you have witnessed them cope with other stressful situations. You can normalize their feelings by saying “plenty of people go through this and we will get through this together.”
Remind them that the crisis will eventually be over and they are not alone during this difficult time. Make sure there are boundaries when talking about the crisis so your partner doesn’t get triggered. Encouraging physical activity to assist your partner manage their worry and stress can be also be helpful.
Listening and Validating Your Partner’s Feelings
Try to validate your partner’s fears and don’t dismiss their feelings. Even though you may not be able to relate, and it seems irrational to you, it is very real for them. Ask your partner to guide you as to what kind of emotional support they need.
Try to just listen and don’t attempt to “fix things” since you cannot solve the problem. Do not take things personally as people with anxiety can sometimes take their pain and hurt out on those they love and feel safest with.
When To Seek Professional Treatment
As a supportive partner you want to recognize the signs and assess how serious is your partner’s anxiety. You want to figure out if their anxiety is triggered by the crisis? Do they have a history of anxiety? How long have they been experiencing anxiety symptoms? Does anxiety run in their family? If their anxiety is unmanageable, do they need to meet with a psychiatrist?
Fortunately, there is a range of effective treatments for anxiety. Usually, if anxiety symptoms are difficult to tolerate, a combination of medication and therapy is most beneficial. Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) is also a proven treatment that is growing more popular and used to treat anxiety.
Helping someone who is suffering from anxiety isn’t easy, especially during a crisis. You want to make sure you are also taking care of your own needs.
We are a group of skilled therapists with over 20 years of experience specializing in couples counseling in New York City, Westchester and the Hamptons. Click Here to learn more about our Online/Virtual or In Person Counseling Services: Couples Counseling or Anxiety Counseling.