People who suffer from anxiety often have trouble within their personal relationships, according to the Anxiety Disorder Association of America (ADAA). The good news, however, is that as the anxiety was treated, the relationships improved.
In a survey completed by ADAA over 1000 people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) were questioned on the role anxiety played in their relationships. Although anxiety was seen as impacted all relationships, including those with children and co-workers, the survey showed romantic relationships being impacted on a greater scale.
Once treatment for anxiety was started, participants of the survey indicated communication within relationships improved. Anxiety sufferers stated they were more likely to either enter into arguments or avoid situations requiring communication with partners or co-workers because of their anxiety.
Anxiety is most often characterized by extreme or constant worry. This worry is often unsubstantiated, but, even so, the person with anxiety cannot stop. When worry finds it’s way into a relationship, it can appear as jealousy or suspicion. You may know your partner is faithful but may continue to worry about what would happen if he or she were not faithful. This can lead to questioning your partner unnecessarily or feeling as if your partner doesn’t care or the anxiety sufferer needing constant reassurance. Both partners can end up feeling frustrated and angry.
Avoidance of Situations
Many people with anxiety, especially panic disorder, avoid situations and places, which may cause an anxiety attack. For some people, this can mean avoiding friends, family and other social events. In a relationship, this can create problems. Attending social functions and getting together for family events are a normal part of being in a relationship. When one partner is fearful of being in public, in crowded places or has begun to avoid getting together with other people, it can place a large strain on the relationship.
Although many people with anxiety disorders continue to work, some fear their anxiety will interfere with their job or may cause them to lose their job. In addition, people with anxiety have been found to be scared of losing their job because of anxiety systems. In addition, people with anxiety are more likely to argue with their colleagues or to avoid communicating with them. Many people with anxiety also miss almost three times as much work as those people without anxiety. These concerns may cause people with anxiety to make less money than their counterparts without anxiety.
Couples fight about money frequently. Economic problems are considered to be one of the major reasons for divorce and separation. For people with anxiety, economic problems may cause even more problems, with the partner with anxiety constantly worrying about finances, even during times when finances are not a problem.
Communication is one of the most important aspects of any relationship and many adults with anxiety avoid open and honest communication because of their fears. Part of the problem may be in being able to communicate feelings and how anxiety impacts daily life. Without being able to openly communicate this information, a partner is not able to understand the effect of anxiety. According to the survey completed by ADAA, people with anxiety reported their relationships improved once they were able to explain their illness to the important people in their lives.
Although anxiety can impact a relationship in many different ways, the important thing to remember is that anxiety is a treatable disorder. Treatment often consists of a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and medication. There is a high rate of improvement once treatment has begun. And based on the responses of the survey on relationships conducted by ADAA, once people received treatment, their relationships improved.
“What is the Impact of An Anxiety Disorder on Family and Friends?”, 2008, Feb 27, Kendall Genre, M.D., ABC News On Call
“New Survey Reveals How Generalized Anxiety Disorder Interferes With the Ability to Maintain “Healthy” Relationships”, 2004, July 20, Anxiety Disorders Association of America
“Anxiety Disorders in the Workplace”, Date Unknown, Author Unknown, Anxiety Disorders Association of America
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.