Anxiety can be a crippling mental health condition that nearly 40 million US adults go through every year. But that does't mean they don't deserve to be loved.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on July 10, 2020. It has since been updated.
Imagine feeling butterflies in your stomach but not the happy kind. Your heart races and your palms sweat, and you can do nothing about it. For some, it might be situational, but for those with anxiety, it is a way of life. Anxiety can be a crippling condition for many people. It leaves people spiraling for hours or days with their negative thoughts. Nobody wants their loved ones to go through something so difficult on their own. As a partner of someone with anxiety, you would have to have immense patience.
Almost 40 million American adults suffer through this mental health condition. Having friends, family, and romantic partners who understand and stand by them can be a great help.
Here are some ways you can help your loved one cope:
When you lend an ear to the problems they're facing, it helps them because they are able to voice it out. They are able to see that the issue was much bigger inside their head. You can also ask them questions like "How can I help?", "What does anxiety mean for you?", and "What would you want people to know?" When they are telling you about their experience, instead of interrupting them, just listen. You don't need to offer any solution, you just need to hear them out.
“Listen to them and let them know you care,” Paulette Sherman, a New York City-based psychologist, tells Women's Health. “Most people like to be heard and accepted. Sometimes just knowing they are loved and aren’t alone goes a long way.”
For many people with anxiety, there are things that set it off like troubles at work or with money. It could be a number of things. Knowing what they are will help create a calm environment. “Be willing to learn about the triggers and what helps them to cope," Sherman advises. You can also ask them about their past experiences and what a panic attack looked like as well as how they managed it previously. Gather as much information as possible.
What they are going through isn't about you, so don't take it personally. You did not trigger it. Your partner could be going through a rough patch and could be feeling overwhelmed. Instead of getting upset about it and making it about how YOU are feeling, find ways to keep them occupied so that their negative thoughts get interrupted, according to HuffPost.
Even though it is easy for those with anxiety to feel overwhelmed and anxious, they are functional adults. They can cope with their lives and go about it normally on a general day, according to Metro UK. When you treat them like they're delicate, they feel powerless and weak. Instead, be supportive let them know that you trust them and have complete faith in them.
Doing your own research on this topic will help you not be surprised or shocked. You will never know what your partner is going through so it's crucial to do your homework, says Kevin Gilliland, a licensed clinical psychologist, to Women's Health. "Read up on what anxiety is and how it feels for people," he added. He explains that there are different kinds of anxiety. 3% of US adults go through general anxiety disorder, which can show up as nagging and uncontrollable worry. 2-3% also experience panic attacks and almost 7% people have social anxiety, which is fear of being judged, rejected, among other things.
They may not always be able to show it but they are grateful that you are supportive and patient with them. Even when you don't understand the condition just that you are there to show love and compassion is not important to them. Just check in with your partner, who may be in a social situation, if they're okay from time to time. On a rough day, just text them something positive, and it would help.