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How to Help a Partner Who Has Anxiety Disorder

We all can use a helping hand every now and again.

Photo by Xavier Sotomayor on Unsplash

From firsthand experience, I can tell you anxiety is not a laughing matter. I used to think that anxiety and depression were all just a state of mind; that you just weren’t trying hard enough to be happy. Not only is that incredibly rude of me to think, but it was incredibly naïve. The first time I had a panic attack I truly thought my heart was going to burst through my chest. It felt like I had just run a marathon while being suffocated at the same time.

That might seem confusing to some, but to anyone who has had this happen I know you understand. It is not easy living with anxiety and it’s equally as hard for a partner to watch you go through it. I’ve watched my significant other look at me in worry and love as I go through episodes; the worry on his face only making the hyperventilating and tears come that much faster.

For anyone who is dealing with this I just want you to know that you always have someone! Whether it is a professional, friend, family member, or an online community, there is always strength in numbers. If you are in a relationship or want to help a friend through these tough times then just continue reading!

Don’t ook At Them Differently

Sometimes when I’m going on and on about my problems I have people who start listing off different ways of fixing everything. While that is extremely sweet, and sometimes useful, most of the time it just causes my anxiety to worsen. You would be amazed at how better people with anxiety can feel with just a listening ear. No, it doesn’t fix the underlying issue, but it does help release whatever has been pent up in their mind.

Positive Affirmations

Lately when I get my anxiety, I have a crying episode where all I can do is say negative things about myself. It is not healthy and overall, I don’t really feel that way. In that moment though all I can think about is how horrible I am to deal with. Yes, it is a self-pitying type of anxiety and knowing this only makes me feel that much guiltier.

In times like this my loved ones usually combat anything negative I have to say. “You are a great person,” or “you are so much more than that one thing.” In the moment I might not here what the person is saying but, trust me, it really does help.

Don’t look at them differently.

If you look at someone who just had an episode like they are some type of broken doll, it is only going to make them feel that much worse. Crack a joke, give a hug, let out another positive affirmation. Then try and change the subject and get them talking about other things. We don’t want to live in the moment of what just happened. I’m all for talking things out, but a few minutes to get my heart rate lowered will make the conversation move a little smoother.

Pick Up the Phone

When someone passes away we get a little guilt that we didn’t spend enough time with them. This rule is just a good rule all around. Pick up the phone and call your friend, family (you get the list), and just say, "hi." You never know what state someone might be in and I promise, you will never regret saying hello. A big problem with anxiety is that it makes you feel so alone. That phone call could turn around a horrible day for that person.

***

These are tips to help through anxiety episodes but they are also tips for anyone in any situation. We all get stress in our lives and we all have struggles we face in our day to day activities. I’m guilty of this as well but we sometimes get so narrow in our eyesight that we forget that everyone is fighting the good fight and needs a little nudge once in a while. 

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How to Help a Partner Who Has Anxiety Disorder
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