How Anxiety May Affect Your Relationships

Relationships And Anxiety

 

Having generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) can negatively impact many aspects of your life, including your relationships. Here are two specific ways in which your anxiety can lead to problems maintaining connections with others, as well as strategies you can implement (under the guidance of a mental health professional) to help you navigate these unhealthy attachment patterns.

 

Being overly dependent

 

Some people with GAD have an intense desire for closeness to their partners (or friend), depending on them constantly for support and reassurance. In other words, people with GAD can become desirably clingy and needy. Along with being overly dependent, people with GAD may find themselves prone to overthinking, planning for all worst-case scenarios, being indecisive, fearing rejection, and seeking out constant communication (and getting anxious if a partner or friend does not respond quickly). They tend to think the most negative possible scenario that could happen within a situation. Excessive anxiety can lead to inappropriate suspiciousness or paranoia. For instance, in a partner relationship, suspiciousness may manifest as concern that your partner is not faithful or does not love or care for you as much as you do. In friendships, you may be suspicious that your friend is leaving you out of activities or talking badly about you behind your back. They tend to accuse their significant other of the worst possible thing they could think of because they are scared. This can cause major problems in a relationship because accusations just lead to bad endings. People with GAD and overly dependent relationships may also develop excessive anger, acting out in ways that are destructive to their relationships. Your partner or friend may find this disruptive, and it can weaken their ability to trust you.

 

Fighting dependence entirely

 

If you find yourself developing overly dependent attachments, developing ways to cope with your anxiety and relying more on yourself for feeling better can take the pressure off your partner or friend. For instance, if you find yourself becoming paranoid about your relationships, first remind yourself that your suspicion may be fueled by your anxiety. Anxiety can overpower your thoughts if you let it, but if you stop it in time then there will be no need to worry and everything will work out smoother between you and your partner. Then, take a few moments to think about any hard data (facts) that support your worry. In addition, remember to consider the data that does not support your worry. A therapist who specializes in a type of talk therapy called cognitive-behavioral therapy can help you devise strategies on how to reassure yourself and take thoughtful action on your own, instead of needing your partner for comfort each time you are anxious.

 

Being avoidant

 

On the other end of the spectrum, some people with GAD become overly independent and detached from others and from their emotions. They are scared of being let down or looked at the wrong way, so they think it is easier and much more acceptable to just be completely independent and not have to worry about that at all. They may avoid negative emotions (for example, disappointment or frustration) by not revealing their feelings, opening up, or being vulnerable. A person who is avoidant of close relationships may be described as cold, emotionally unavailable, lacking empathy, or even stand-offish. Along with being distant, you may notice you are uncomfortable with intimacy in romantic relationships and/or mistrustful of your partner’s intentions. When problems arise in relationships, you may hold yourself back from processing your feelings.

 

Fighting back avoidance

 

If you find yourself being overly distant in your relationships, cognitive behavioral therapy along with a type of therapy called interpersonal and emotional processing therapy (I/EP) may be helpful. With I/EP therapy, a mental health professional can help a person explore past and present relationships and the emotions surrounding those interpersonal connections. Couples behavioral therapy in a addition to individual therapy can also help for those in a relationship or married.

 

Treating your anxiety and relationship problems

 

In the end, how GAD impacts your relationships will help your therapist tailor your treatment sessions. You need to find what you like and do not like. What you worry about and what you do not worry about. Knowing how you feel and why you are feeling that way can help you from feeling any anxiety in the long run because you can then catch those negative thoughts and feelings and turn them into positive ones. Talking with your partner through it can also reduce your anxiety levels. For instance, exploring your emotions more deeply may be a good strategy for someone who tends be avoidant in relationships. On the flip side, this strategy may backfire for people who are more dependent on others and emotionally reactive. It is important to note that medication is also often an essential part of treatment for people with GAD. While the medications prescribed for anxiety, like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, are not curative, they can help soothe your worries and help you feel better. This calming, easing effect can give you some piece of mind as you rework your anxious thoughts and behaviors with your therapist.

 

While anxiety can be healthy (it can motivate people and/or help them sense danger within their environment), for people with GAD, their anxiety is overwhelming and debilitating, which can be extremely detrimental to relationships. But rest assured, with proper treatment, you can develop healthy, long-lasting, and fulfilling connections with others.

How Anxiety Destroys Relationships and How to Stop it

Anxiety in Relationships

 

Anxiety can affect our health in obvious reasons. Mentally, emotionally, and physically. But anxiety can not only affect your own personal health, but possibly the health of your relationship as well. Anxiety can cause periods of panic, feelings of fear or overwhelm, and a general sense of unease and tension. It can take over your thoughts and bleed into many areas of your life. If you are feeling any kind of strain or disconnect in your relationship, anxiety may be playing a role. Whether it be your anxiety or your partner’s, it could be affecting your relationship. There are ways you can stop it and help your relationship from getting to that level of anxiety again.

 

  1. Anxiety breaks down trust and connection…

 

Anxiety causes fear and/or worry that can make you less aware of your true needs in any given moment. It can also make you less aware of your partner’s needs and wants. If you are constantly worrying about what could happen, then you are making it difficult to worry about what is happening. If you are feeling overwhelmed, your partner may end up feeling as if you are not fully present.

 

Instead, train your brain to live in the moment…

 

If you start to notice or feel a concern as if your thoughts are straying from the present moment, stop and think about what you do know as opposed to what you do not know. Calm down and think before you act. You can then start to build purposeful trust with your partner in your relationship. Be open with your partner about your feelings. Talk with them when you start to worry and feel overwhelmed. Instead of withdrawing completely, use them as leverage to help you get through it.

 

  1. Anxiety crushes your true voice, creating panic and procrastination…

           

Someone who is used to feeling anxious and uptight, may have trouble expressing how they truly feel. It also may be difficult to keep reasonable boundaries by asking for the attention or space that is needed. Since experiencing anxiety is uncomfortable, subconsciously you may try to postpone the experience of it. On the other hand, anxiety can cause you to believe that something must be talked about immediately, when in fact a short break may be beneficial. If you do not express what you truly feel or need, anxiety becomes stronger. Plus, your emotions may eventually spiral out of control if you keep them in. You may become overwhelmed and defensive.

 

 

So acknowledge your feelings sooner rather than later…

           

A feeling or concern doesn’t have to be a disaster in order for it to be addressed. Approach your partner with kindness, so that you are neither procrastinating nor panicking. Also, find time on your own to unpack some of the thoughts or fears circulating in your mind; they are draining your time and energy. To find help for anxiety issues through therapy contact us to locate a mental health expert in your local area.

 

  1. Anxiety causes you to behave selfishly…

 

Because anxiety is an overactive fear response, someone experiencing it may at times focus too much on his or her own concerns or problems. Your worries and fears may be putting unnecessary pressure on your relationship. You may feel like you need to worry in order to protect yourself in your relationship, but it might be keeping you from being compassionate and vulnerable with your partner. If your partner experiences anxiety, you may build up resentment and react in selfish ways as well. The attitudes and perspectives that we have are contagious. Keeping your stress levels under control is especially hard when your partner is feeling anxious, upset, or defensive.

 

So attend to your needs, not your fears…

 

When you notice yourself becoming fearful or defensive, take a moment to consider the compassion that you have for yourself and your partner. Clearly ask for the support you need to feel loved and understood. Apologize for letting anxiety make you self-absorbed.

 

  1. Anxiety is the opposite of acceptance…

           

A healthy form of worry will tell you “something is not right”; it comes via that quick pull at your heart or that tight feeling in your stomach. This signal helps you act, such as when you speak up for someone who is being treated poorly. Unhealthy levels of anxiety make you feel as though an emotional “rock” is in your stomach almost all the time. Which can be very unhealthy, holding in your feelings can create a massive discomfort and can often cause more health problems, like depression for example. Anxiety causes you to reject things that are not dangerous and avoid things that might benefit you. It also can stop you from taking healthy action to change things in your life that are hurting you because it makes you feel hopeless or stuck.

 

So trying practicing being uncomfortable…

 

You do not need to either ignore or obsess over an uncomfortable thought. Take constructive action if you can. Sometimes your partner just needs you to be present with his or her feelings, and sometimes you need to offer that same gift to yourself. You can show your presence to your partner with soft eyes or a soft touch, and be present for yourself with a calming breath.

 

  1. Anxiety robs you of joy…

           

Experiencing joy requires a sense of safety or freedom. Anxiety makes us feel either fearful or limited. Also, a brain and body trained to stress may have a much harder time enjoying sex and intimacy. Negative thoughts and fears impact a person’s ability to be present within a relationship, potentially sucking the joy out of a moment.

 

So do not take yourself too seriously…

You can use your sense of humor to overcome anxiety. Remember to laugh and play with your partner. Joy physically heals and comforts your brain in ways that are vital for a healthy relationship. As anxiety weakens, your relationship strengthens. Building trust within your relationship may reduce the power of anxiety. By understanding how anxiety impacts your relationships, you can create positive change within a relationship dynamic.