While most couples deal with challenges from time to time, when one spouse deals with anxiety and panic attacks, it can bring some unique challenges to the relationship. The good news is that you can do some things to help your spouse deal with these problems, which will help your spouse feel supported and understood. Here’s a look at some dos and don’ts to remember.
DO try to identify the signs of increasing anxiety early instead of waiting until your spouse becomes extremely upset. Some signs anxiety may be increasing include loud voice, pacing, tenseness in the face, and other physical signs. If this occurs, start talking to your spouse in a reassuring, calm voice.
DO encourage your spouse to give you a signal if he or she starts to feel the anxiety build. This allows you to help your spouse get out of a situation. Intervening early can help.
DO realize that panic attacks will pass. Sometimes your spouse may need to simply get away from a situation.
DO take the time to learn more about anxiety and panic attacks. By getting plenty of information, you’ll both benefit. Being informed will help you to better understand what your spouse is going through so you can work to overcome it together.
DO offer support for the mental health treatment of your spouse, such as counseling, therapy, or antianxiety medication. An efficient, effective new option is available online: OpenForest offers online self-help modules for a number of conditions, including anxiety and depression.
DO let your spouse know that he or she can call you at any time. Even if you cannot be there in person around the clock, knowing that you will be there if they need to call you, even if you’re at work, can make your spouse feel less alone.
DO take some time to make sure you’re dealing with stress effectively. The way you are feeling can affect your spouse, so you need to actively manage your stress.
DON’T tell your spouse that he or she should calm down when anxiety occurs. This often makes the situation even worse.
DON’T get frustrated with your spouse. Remember, anxiety disorders are chemical and thought related. Your spouse probably knows that his or her fears shouldn’t be a bother, but even though they try, they may have difficult controlling anxiety.
DON’T constantly bring up the anxiety and panic attacks. While you do want to be there if your spouse wants to talk about it, you don’t want to accidentally trigger another attack by bringing up the problem. Let your spouse know that you’re willing to talk anytime and leave it at that.