Managing Anxiety In Your Relationship

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We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Anxiety, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

Impact of anxiety and anxiety disorders on relationships

Between 4 to 7%¹ of the US, the population is affected by anxiety and anxiety disorders, with many people at high risk for developing additional mental health problems, such as depression. Anxiety disorder symptoms can feel highly limiting and distressing for the person experiencing them, as well as for those around them.

Whether it's a friend, family member, coworker, or partner/spouse, anxiety can significantly negatively affect your relationships. Intimate partner relationships tend to be the hardest hit by anxiety.

Common challenges you might experience when you or your partner has anxiety include²:

  • Household obligations — When anxiety hits, it can become difficult to focus on household chores and other daily routines. This can put a strain on a partner who feels burdened by having to pick up the slack with chores, bills, grocery shopping, and childcare.

  • Social life and gatherings — Anxiety can seriously impact your social relationships by making you feel uncomfortable, stressed, or isolated. If either you or your partner is dealing with anxiety, it can be difficult to manage feelings of anxiety yourself as well as help your partner with their anxiety. The non-anxious partner’s social life can suffer as a result.

  • Financial responsibilities — Some anxiety disorders can become severe enough to make it challenging to hold down a job.  If you lose your job as a result, your partner may feel the pressure of having to take on the bulk of financial responsibilities to provide for both of you.

  • Mental and emotional health issues — If you or your partner have anxiety, they may experience a range of mental and emotional problems, sometimes all at once. These feelings can lead to either or both of you feeling upset, angry, irritated, or annoyed with each other, which may also cause intense feelings of guilt. 

How to support an anxious partner

Being in a relationship with someone who has anxiety can be challenging, but there are ways in which you can offer support to help your partner through it. Actions you can take include:

  • Prioritize open communication — Discuss the different symptoms your partner is experiencing and how it affects them in their daily life. The better you both understand what is happening, the better prepared you both will be to respond to a symptom when it arises.

  • Acknowledge feelings — Never minimize how your partner is feeling. Instead, listen and acknowledge their fears and worries before discussing why those feelings are irrational and help them to develop a healthier mindset.

  • Treatment — When anxiety becomes a serious problem that impacts your partner's quality of life and your relationship, it may be time to consider treatment options. You can help them to seek treatment by suggesting a therapist, and, in some cases, you may even participate in sessions with them.

Remember that helping yourself helps your partner. If you're upset with the sacrifices and compromises you feel you have to make in your relationship, you may grow to resent or dislike your partner. Make sure to focus on yourself and your needs to help prevent them from getting to this point.

You can take steps to boost your own well-being by maintaining hobbies, interests, and active social life. Set boundaries with your partner based on your emotional and physical limitations. Communication is critical, so couples counseling can help you to open up about how you each feel and what can be done to support each other moving forward.

Managing anxiety for a positive relationship

If you are the one suffering from anxiety in your relationship, there are some helpful ways³ in which you can manage your symptoms to promote a more positive relationship with your partner. While being a supportive partner is important, the anxious partner must also contribute by working on anxiety management.  If both of you are struggling, you should seek help individually and together. Managing the disorder can go a long way towards reducing strain and improving your relationship.

When anxiety takes over, and symptoms emerge, you can often feel overwhelmed and helpless. Take some simple actions to calm yourself down and ease the symptoms, including calming exercises like counting to 10 slowly, taking deep breaths, meditation, and yoga.

You may also find success through preventative measures like getting enough sleep every day, exercising regularly, and avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. It's helpful to acknowledge that you cannot control everything, including your anxiety, so ask yourself if it is really as bad as you think.

If you find you need more help managing their symptoms, discuss treatment options with your doctor, including medications and psychotherapy.

The lowdown

If you or your partner, or both of you, are suffering from anxiety, don't ignore the problem until it hurts your relationship. There are ways that both of you can work on the issues anxiety is causing in your relationship in order to overcome them:

  • Acknowledge the emotional, financial, and social and impact anxiety is having on your relationship.

  • Support your partner with anxiety by prioritizing open communication, listening to how they feel, and helping them to seek treatment.

  • Manage your anxiety by practicing calming activities, taking care of your well-being, and seeking treatment from a doctor if needed

  1. GAD Symptoms Can Create Relationship Problems, but These 4 Tips Can Help | Anxiety.org

  2. Spouse or Partner | Anxiety & Depression Association of America

  3. Tips to Manage Anxiety and Stress | Anxiety & Depression Association of America

Have you considered clinical trials for Anxiety?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Anxiety, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

Joining community groups and exercise programs for my condition made me feel empowered – but I want to be part of finding a cure.
Peter, 64

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