An anxiety disorder is characterized by repeated episodes of intense anxiety, fear, or terror that may result in panic attacks. This condition has a large impact on a person’s ability to connect and interact with others.
Keep reading to learn how the relationship of friends and family is impacted when a loved one has an anxiety disorder and the treatment options available.
Anxiety Makes Loved Ones Feel Helpless
When a person has an anxiety disorder, their loved ones suffer as well because although they may feel alone in their struggles, they have friends and family by their side wishing they could help. Unfortunately, there are few things a person can do to help their anxiety-ridden friend find peace.
Having to stand by and watch a loved one struggle with anxiety can leave those caring individuals feeling helpless and desperate.
Anxiety Disorder Causes Others to Feel Stressed
Stress is another big feeling that impacts friends and families when their loved one has an anxiety disorder.
Individuals with anxiety experience various thoughts and emotions that create worry, sadness, fear, and a constant dread that something terrible is going to happen. Although it may be hard for some to admit, being around the constant fear and worry is stressful, and when around it long enough, the anxiety can breed those same emotions in others.
You May Be Overly Dependant On Others
Individuals with anxiety often struggle with being alone, doing things on their own, talking to others in public, getting medical care, and more. Since we as humans are faced with these situations frequently, a person with anxiety will likely rely on their loved ones to assist them. This over-dependence is unhealthy for the ones with anxiety and the ones offering assistance.
Many individuals with anxiety also have a deep fear of rejection and require constant reassurance which results in an emotional dependency on others.
You May Isolate From Loved Ones
While some individuals with anxiety are overly dependent, there are a large number of people who fear social interactions, causing them to isolate themselves from their loved ones.
Isolation usually occurs for fear of rejection, discomfort, miscommunication, criticism, or other negative feelings. Avoiding social interactions is a natural defense mechanism for people with anxiety, but it creates emotional distance from their friends and family.
This emotional disconnect is difficult for loved ones because it may make them feel lonely, unappreciated, and uncared about.
Being Honest Can Be Difficult
Because individuals with anxiety fear rejection and often have worrisome thoughts flooding their minds, honesty can be difficult. Speaking the truth about how they feel and think or expressing their opinions can lead to opposition from those who do not agree.
Disagreeing on some topics is completely normal, but that dissimilarity might be seen as disapproval or judgment. Therefore, many people with anxiety choose to blindly agree with others and be dishonest about their true feelings. Not being fully honest with loved ones creates a connection based on falsehoods.
Additionally, the friends and family of a person with anxiety may be dishonest themselves because they are afraid of upsetting the person. Dishonesty from either or both ends of a relationship is unhealthy.
There May Be Chronic Tension
The fear, dishonesty, dependency, stress, helplessness, and isolation within a relationship creates tension that is hard to break.
A relationship filled with tension leads to many unfortunate situations and emotions. For example, tension causes irritability which leads to anger, and possibly arguments. Tension also causes people to feel they can’t or shouldn’t communicate within the relationship which leads to miscommunication and disconnection.
How To Get Treatment for Anxiety
As you can see, anxiety disorder impacts the loved ones of the sufferer in many ways.
Luckily, there are many treatment options available, and relationships can still be repaired.
Medications are typically one of the first options offered to individuals with anxiety disorder.
The main types are:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors- SSRIs block nerve cells in the brain from reabsorbing serotonin which is essential for mood regulation.
- Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors- These medications work by decreasing the reabsorption of serotonin and norepinephrine.
- Benzodiazepines- These medications are sedatives that reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety.
- Beta-blockers- Beta-blockers reduce the effects of norepinephrine.
- Cannabis- Cannabis relieves anxiety symptoms by interacting with the GABA neurotransmitter that can cause anxiety. Some strains are more effective than others, but all products have anti-anxiety benefits.
Seeing a therapist or joining a support group led by a therapist is one of the most beneficial things a person with anxiety can do for themselves.
In therapy, individuals with mental health disorders learn about emotions, healthy communication, self-respect, self-love, and more. Although talking and learning may not sound effective, therapy teaches individuals how to cope with anxiety as it arises and redirect their thoughts toward a healthier outcome.