Everyone feels anxious from time to time. However, for people who’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, it can cause constant distress, panic and worry, and at worse, can disable a person from leading a fulfilling life. Yet, with the right treatment and support, many people can learn to manage the feelings of anxiety, allowing them to cope with day-to-day events and situations.
If your partner suffers from an anxiety disorder, though, it can also be difficult for you to cope with, especially if your knowledge is limited and you’ve never dealt with mental illness before. It can render you useless at times, with feelings of ineptness. However, there are many ways to support your partner. Here’s how.
Learn the Types of Disorder
Like any other mental illness or physical injury, there is no one-fits-all diagnosis. Take the time to read up on the matter, and learn the types of disorder and what they bring. Once you know, you’re already a lot closer to helping.
- Panic Disorder. You feel terror at random moments, and this can trigger a panic attack where you sweat, suffer chest pains and feel palpitations. You can sometimes feel as if you’re choking, and in more severe cases, feel as if you’re having a heart attack.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder. You feel unspecific worry, which may be unrealistic and with little or no reason. This panic can form in excessive and exaggerated anxiety, with no obvious reasons. People with GAD will usually be unable to stop worrying about health, family, money, work, and the future.
- Social Anxiety Disorder. Also known as Social Phobia, this is when a people feel worry and panic when meeting people – old and new – or being included in everyday social situations. Usually, the person will be anxious about others judging them, or being humiliated or derided.
- Specific Phobias. When anxiety and panic is brought on by a specific situation, person or object, such as heights. This fear goes beyond usual phobias, as it causes you to avoid usual circumstances.
Apply Your Knowledge
Once you’ve broadened your knowledge, you should speak to your partner. Although you already knew the type of anxiety disorder they suffer from before your research, you’ll now have a better understanding. Therefore, if your partner suffers from social anxiety, you’ll know why they may want to skip a party or not want to attend a crowded event.
With your knowledge, you’ll stand a better chance of supporting your partner if they ever suffer an episode.
Maintain a Support System for the Both of You
Ensure your partner has a support system, and one that includes you. Whether their support comes from their family and friends, or it’s by having them phone you when panic strikes, make sure to maintain the support system so it lessens their anxiety. However, also ensure you have your own support, as there will be some elements your partner is unable to assist you with. If it’s affecting your marriage, then an online councelor can provide you joint support and help the two of you talk through your issues and find a solution.
Encourage Treatment and Set Goals
Many people with anxiety don’t seek treatment, whether it’s out of denial or embarrassment. You therefore need to encourage your partner to see a professional so they can have the right medication or therapy that’ll support them through the trials of life. Offer to go with them if this’ll limit the panic of seeing a doctor. Understand that this might be a battle in itself.
Sit down with your partner and come up with a list of goals they wish to complete. They can be as simple as going to the local coffee shop on their own, or as challenging as attending a social gathering without you. Make sure they’re realistic and attainable, though. Once confidence and anxiety are properly dealt with, revisit these goals and add or adapt them as seems fit.
Learn When to Challenge and When to be Patient
Challenging your partner to succeed certain obstacles can be the remedy to some problems. However, you need to understand the balance and when it’s best not to push them. If your partner really wants to go for a job, but is too nervous, sit with them and help them apply. However, if your partner really can’t face a large room of people at a social function, then don’t force them.