The Impact of Anxiety Disorders on Relationships
Randi Fredricks, Ph.D.
Research indicates that 40 million adults in the United States have one of a number of anxiety disorders so severe that it requires counseling and psychotherapy. Almost three-quarters of these people experience symptoms of anxiety by the age of 21, which is also the time most people begin serious relationships. Anxiety disorders cause very obvious symptoms that can impact your intimate relationships if you don’t stop them.
Anxiety disorders are an extension of the body’s natural reaction to stress. When an uncomfortable or threatening situation occurs, it causes normal anxiety as the body prepares you to handle it. For most people, the feeling usually passes when the situation ends. However, for some people a persistent anxiety occurs, even without a specific trigger.
People with anxiety disorders feel and act nervous, panicky, irritable or apprehensive. They may also have physical symptoms like tense muscles, shortness of breath, a tight chest, fatigue, trouble falling asleep and digestive problems. In some anxiety disorders, these can symptoms can be part of an anxiety or panic attack. Fortunately, marriage counseling can help as can traditional psychotherapy.
Behavioral Problems in Relationships
Sometimes an anxiety disorder can cause a person to become overly dependent. Their anxiety can cause them to be afraid to be alone or to face certain situations on their own. Anxiety disorders can also cause a person to question every decision they make, which also results in over-attachment and over-dependence.
Due to this, someone with an anxiety disorder might have a constant desire for closeness to their friends, family, or partner, and crave constant reassurance and support from them.
This over-dependence can cause overthinking around all type of social interactions, leading them to worry when someone doesn’t respond quickly via phone or social media.
People who are overly dependent on their relationships can struggle with low self-esteem and ineffective communication and lash out in ways that are destructive to their relationships. This can cause friends and family to keep their distance physically and emotionally.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Counseling and Relationships
One of the most common anxiety disorders seen in my San Jose Counseling practice is generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), is usually caused by stressful life circumstances. The stress can come from anywhere, but is usually from work and/or home. Other common sources include school, work, finances and family. Serious problems in a relationship can lead to GAD if there are unresolved issues and you don’t communicate well with your partner. In my anxiety counseling in San Jose, CA, I have seen anxiety devastate many relationships.
GAD can hurt relationships because people with anxiety tend to take our their frustration or irritability on their partner. Temperament is often affected by the physical symptoms, which makes matters worse. It’s more difficult to discuss and work out problems when someone is nervous, fatigued or in pain. Counseling and other forms of support can help with anxiety disorders, and to help prevent the person from pushing their your partner away.
Treatment can lessen GAD’s negative effects on a relationship by relieving the symptoms. The most common methods are cognitive counseling, anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication or a combination of therapy and drugs. Effective treatment lessens symptoms and their effect. Couples counseling will specifically address problems triggered by anxiety disorders.
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About the Author
Randi Fredricks, Ph.D. is a practicing therapist, researcher and author specializing in the treatment of anxiety, depression, addiction, eating numerous books on complementary and alternative treatments for mental health including Complementary and Alternative Treatments for Anxiety. For more information on Dr. Fredricks work, visit her practice website San Jose Counseling and Psychotherapy.