Coping with an Anxious Partner

Does your partner get easily overwhelmed, frustrated? Does this turn into increased irritability that affects your ability to communicate with each other? If so, you are not alone. Anxiety disorders are abound. Is it the pressures of work and family? There are many reasons a person can experience anxiety. One of which is the impact of COVID on all our lives. We were suddenly isolated from those we love, fearful to venture forth. We became like silos attempting to cope as best we could. Many couples found themselves living in a small apartment with each other 24 hours a day seven days a week. We can’t forget the children whose lives were turned upside down from one day to the next. Parents became responsible for helping their children with remote learning while attending to their job responsibilities leaving no time for them to nurture their bond.

Coping with an anxious partner
Coping with an anxious partner

Working remotely became a good option during the quarantine. The result being the dividing line between work and personal time became blurred. Suddenly we had everything at our fingertips and the pressure was on. We had to produce, be cost effective and not complain because at least you had a job while many others lost their income creating great instability and injecting into our lives the elixir of danger, lack of safety in what we had been accustomed to rely on.

All this coupled with heightened irritability and too much togetherness makes for a bitter soup. We suddenly became a remote culture of individuals each in their own silos doing their best to survive with some sense of normalcy in a completely foreign world. We had to contend with, the “new normal”. This is enough to strain the coping skills, frustration tolerance, and anger management that contribute to symptoms of anxiety and panic.

Anxiety comes in many forms. For some it comes in a feeling of jitteriness, restlessness, worry, excessive apprehensive expectation, repetitive thoughts. It may be difficult to control the worry. Irritability, muscle tension, sleep disturbance and difficulty concentrating are common symptoms of anxiety. In some it can be as mild as a feeling of a nervous stomach, in others it can produce a sense of losing control in an already unsafe world. We had to contend with our lives being flipped on its axis and somehow make it work. Make it work professionally and personally and we can’t forget as parents.

Panic Disorder and Anxiety

One of the most troublesome anxiety disorders is panic disorder. It encompasses recurrent unexpected panic attacks with an abrupt surge of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes with 4 or more of the following symptoms occurring:

  • Palpitations, accelerated heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Shortness of breath or smothering
  • Feelings of chocking
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Nausea or abdominal distress
  • Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
  • Chills or heat sensations
  • Numbness or tingling sensations
  • Feeling detached from oneself, feelings of unreality
  • Fear of losing control or “going crazy”
  • Fear of dying

At least 1 of the attacks has been followed by 1 month (or more) of one or both of the following:

  • Persistent worry about additional panic attacks or their consequences (fear of losing control or “going crazy”
  • Behaviors designed to avoid having panic attacks such as avoidance of exercise or unfamiliar situations

There are also other anxiety related diagnoses. At their core is that feeling of anxiety, nervousness, difficulty sitting still, fidgeting, and rumination. Sometimes the trigger to anxious symptoms is being in crowds where they are exposed to possible scrutiny from others as in social phobia. Examples of this are social interaction, being observed or performing in front of others. There is specific phobia which is a marked fear or anxiety about a specific object or situation for example flying, heights, animals, receiving an injection and seeing blood. The phobic situation is actively avoided or endured with intense fear. To find out more, please don’t hesitate to call the psychologists at Miami Psychology Group.

If you or your partner is experiencing these symptoms, there is help. Trained counselors are here to help you coping with an anxious partner. You don’t have to go through this alone. The therapy will involve individual therapy and may include couples counseling sessions to address any issues that exist related to coping skills deficits and communication skills training. Part of this is learning to set your phone down, turn off the television, put away the gaming console and give each other the gift of undivided attention. How long has it been since you felt prioritized? We are so used to being on our phones, checking social media sites and trolling the web that we forget what we give up. What we forfeit is eye contact, feeling like your partner prioritizes you, increased emotional intimacy and the bonds that this creates. Remember, love is co-operation rather than competition. A good rule of thumb is to practice being the kind of person you wish your partner was.

Here at Miami Psychology Group, we specialize in treating these symptoms and the unexpected consequences these symptoms may produce such as a strained relationship. As the partner of someone who struggles with anxiety or panic, it’s important to be as supportive as possible. Try to provide them with a sense of safety such as being their “safe person”. Talk through the anxiety/panic in soft, nurturing tones. Make sure your partner knows that they are loved and cared for. That they are not alone. Our psychologists have extensive training in these areas and are here to assist you. You don’t need to do it alone.