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How Do I Help My Girlfriend With Anxiety

What Causes Relationship Anxiety

LETS TALK | I owe you an apology â¦â¦.

Put simply, falling in love challenges us in numerous ways we dont expect. The more we value someone else, the more we stand to lose. On many levels, both conscious and unconscious, we become scared of being hurt. To a certain degree, we all possess a fear of intimacy. Ironically, this fear often arises when we are getting exactly what we want, when were experiencing love as we never have or being treated in ways that are unfamiliar.

As we get into a relationship, it isnt just the things that go on between us and our partner that make us anxious. its the things we tell ourselves about whats going on. The critical inner voice is a term used to describe the mean coach we all have in our heads that criticizes us, feeds us bad advice and fuels our fear of intimacy. Its the one that tells us:

Youre too ugly/fat/boring to keep his/her interest.

Youll never meet anyone, so why even try?

You cant trust him. Hes looking for someone better.

She doesnt really love you. Get out before you get hurt.

This critical inner voice makes us turn against ourselves and the people close to us. It can promote hostile, paranoid and suspicious thinking that lowers our self-esteem and drives unhealthy levels of distrust, defensiveness, jealousy and anxiety. Basically, it feeds us a consistent stream of thoughts that undermine our happiness and make us worry about our relationship, rather than just enjoying it.

Overthinking Your Partners Words & Actions

Maybe your partner prefers to limit PDA or makes a joke about a quirky part of your personality this may lead you to spend a lot of time reading into their actions and assuming that they dont actually like you, when they probably just have slightly different preferences than you or are just trying to engage with you.

Knowing There Is Someone There For Me Is What Keeps Me Going

Speaking as the girlfriend with depression: Be there for her. Understand that she cant control how shes feeling, especially if its a bad day. Speaking personally, knowing there is someone there for me is what keeps me going.

Its important to know that you cant fix it yourself. Never tell someone with depression to just be happier. But you can do little things, like cuddling, making tea, making sure shes eating well, watching happy movies, asking how shes feeling, going on short walks .

Make sure you separate your emotional state from hers. Im sure you love and care for your girlfriend, but her emotions arent your own. Remember that you need to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else.fancyabiscuit

Also Check: How To Use Lavender Oil For Anxiety

Dos And Donts When Helping People Struggling With Depression

When youre trying to figure out how to help someone with depression, it can be tricky to know what to say. This is particularly true when its someone close to you, such as a significant other. You obviously want to say the right things without unintentionally saying something that may be unhelpful.

Dont worry the most important thing is that youre trying your best. Keep these dos and donts in mind to guide you toward constructive dialogue.

Sometimes You Will Be The Trigger Do Not Take This Personally

My girlfriend has an anxiety disorder. How can I help?

No, our anxiety will not magically skip over you just because we are dating you. If anything, being in a relationship adds to the anxiety. There are constant questions about how to reply to your text message asking what we are doing, what happens if we upset you, what does our future look like, and so on. But do not blame yourself in these situations. Do not feel guilty about any anxiety or panic attacks that stem from you. Anxiety is something we have to live with and deal with, in all aspects of our life.

Read Also: Does Therapy Work For Anxiety

Do Separate Your Partner From Their Anxiety

At the end of the day, the partner that you love is still there. They’re still the same person who makes you laugh so hard that water comes out your nose, or who is always the first to thaw the ice and apologize after a fight.

Its just that sometimes, they might feel buried beneath their anxiety. It can help to remind yourself, and them, that they are not their anxiety. The anxiety is just an intense experience that can overwhelm your partner at times and affect how they behave. Try to be patient and compassionate this means being gentle with yourself as well as your partner.

It might not always seem obvious from your partners behavior, but chances are theyre deeply grateful that youre willing to support them through the difficult times. Its also essential that you remind yourself that showing up for them in their times of anxiety is a love language and a testament to your caring, supportive nature. Dont forget to show yourself some of that same love!

Dos: Six Helpful Ways To Support Your Girlfriend

  • Encourage her to seek, and stick with, therapy: This may entail helping her research and find the best counseling in your area. She may want someone to go to therapy with her and offer a supportive presence, or she may need a nudge to continue going to therapy even when she doesnt feel like it.
  • Do your research: The more you know, the more you can help. Take the time to read about depression, understand its symptoms and consider what the experience is like for your girlfriend. Youll learn helpful strategies and gain valuable insight into the struggle shes facing.
  • Find practical ways to help: People battling depression often find they lack the energy or motivation to perform activities even necessary everyday to-dos. Whether its giving a hand with groceries, cooking a meal or giving a quick spruce-up to the home, look for specific, tangible ways to step in and help.
  • Be patient: Depression often takes time to heal or may linger long-term. An exciting activity or helpful counseling appointment wont end her depression overnight it takes time. Extend patience and let her know that youre here to support her journey without pressure for immediate improvement.
  • Take care of yourself: In your well-meaning efforts to care for your girlfriend, dont neglect your own self-care. Take a step back and recharge your own batteries when you need to. Make sure you have outlets to safely express your own emotions and experiences. Pursue your own hobbies, friendships and health.
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    Encourage Your Partner To Seek Help

    If your partners anxiety is impacting their lives, as well as your relationship, you may want to consider encouraging them to get help. You want to frame this as kindly and empathetic as possible.

    Your partner doesnt need to be fixed, but rather, you want to communicate that getting help will be an empowering and positive thing so that they can feel better.

    The two most effective treatments for anxiety are therapy and medication. Some people benefit from therapy alone but often, therapy combined with medication is most helpful.

    The most common types of therapy used to treat anxiety are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Exposure Therapy. Medications used to treat anxiety include anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines, antidepressants , and beta-blockers.

    What Should I Say To My Partner

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    It can be really tough to put how youre feeling into words, let alone how your mental health might impact that. Firstly, theres no way to explain things badly or say the wrong thing. Its all about you and how youre feeling.

    But if youre feeling worried or anxious about talking about your mental health, its worth running through what you might want to say in a dry run with somebody who already knows, or a support helpline, such as ours.

    Also try:

    • Going somewhere where you wont be interrupted and where the other person can hear you
    • Sitting face-to-face, or if that feels too formal, going for a walk together
    • Having some resources ready for them to do further research

    And dont forget, if youre speaking to somebody whos never struggled with their mental health, then they will likely not know much about mental health conditions. This might mean it takes longer to explain whats going on, or that they might not initially respond how you expect.

    Its important to remember that youve done nothing wrong and it might just be a process.

    We also have an article on how to talk about your mental health, which might useful.

    Read Also: Can Anxiety Be A Symptom Of Depression

    Bacteria On The Brain

    Neuropsychology includes strong speculations that schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other neurological or psychological problems may also be linked with changes in the microbiome. Researchers believe that disturbance in bacteria in the microbiome could cause the immune system to overreact and contribute to GI tract inflammation, leading to the development of disease symptoms found not only in your whole body but also in your brain. This connection between the brain and gastrointestinal tract is called the gut-brain axis. Some researchers think that early life infections may adversely affect the mucosal membrane in the GI tract, disrupt the axis of the gut and brain, and interfere with normal brain development. Mucous membranes can also be replaced by other methods, such as poor diet, antibiotic use, radiation treatment, and chemotherapy.

    How Can I Overcome Relationship Anxiety

    In order to overcome, relationship anxiety, we must shift our focus inward. We have to look at whats going on inside us, separate from our partner or the relationship. What critical inner voices are exacerbating our fears? What defenses do we possess that could be creating distance? This process of self-discovery can be a vital step in understanding the feelings that drive our behavior, and ultimately, shape our relationship. By looking into our past, we can gain better insight into where these feelings come from. What caused us to feel insecure or turned on ourselves in relation to love? You can start this journey for yourself by learning more about the fear of intimacy and how to identify and overcome your critical inner voice.

    Learn more strategies for overcoming relationship anxiety in our Webinar with Dr. Lisa Firestone: Understanding and Overcoming Relationship Anxiety.

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    Encouraging Your Partner To Try Individual Or Couples Therapy

    When you care for someone, its tempting to support them by trying to act as a surrogate therapist. The problem is youre not a therapist. Trying to play that role will be emotionally draining. It could make you resent your partner.

    You are not responsible for providing therapy to your partner. This is why you should gently guide your partner toward professional help. A therapist can help them improve how they deal with anxiety, in and outside a relationship.

    If youre in a serious, long-term relationship, consider couples counseling. An anxiety issue might be based on what is going on within your relationship.

    Getting professional help by working with a couples counselor can take the pressure off your partner. Rather than encouraging them to do something on their own, you are inviting them to join you in therapy.

    What happens in couples counseling?

    In couples counseling, you and your partner will gain insight into your relationship, learn how to effectively resolve conflicts, and improve your overall relationship satisfaction through various therapeutic techniques. Therapists will often assign tasks to the couple so that they can apply the skills learned in therapy in their daily interactions. Most couples conclude therapy with a better understanding of their relational patterns and heightened communication skills, allowing them to continue their relationship in a much healthier, more fulfilling way.

    Talk About Your Partners Feelings

    My girlfriend has an anxiety disorder. How can I help?

    With any mental illness, being able to open up about social anxiety and how it feels is important. Let your spouse talk about their feelings openly and honestly and be a patient, non-judgmental listener. Avoid trying to be rational or to fix their issues. Your spouse knows that their feelings are not rational. They dont need you to reason with them or come up with a solution. You just need to listen and take their feelings seriously.

    Saying things like, Just get over it and pull yourself together, Nobody is looking at you, so stop worrying, or How can this party with our closest friends possibly scare you? is not helpful. Instead, say things that are understanding and supportive: I know you dont like to feel this way and cant control it, Ill be here to support you, or Take your time. These kinds of comments acknowledge your spouses feelings and the fact that you are there to help.

    Read Also: Does Strattera Help With Anxiety

    Talking To Your Partner About Your Mental Health

    Ready to tell your partner youre struggling with your mental health, but unsure how to? Weve got some advice on how to start that convo and what they might ask.

    When you like someone, and they like you back, its pretty amazing. But if you have a mental health issue, you might be worried about talking to your partner about your mental health and how that might ruin what you have. You might worry how theyll react or feel unsure even how to start the conversation. Were here to let you know some of the best ways to open up and how to deal with their response.

    How To Deal With Relationship Anxiety

    Critical Inner Voice, Fear of Intimacy, Relationship Advice, Relationship Problems, RelationshipsPsychAlive

    Relationships can be one of the most pleasurable things on the planet but they can also be a breeding ground for anxious thoughts and feelings. Relationship anxiety can arise at pretty much any stage of courtship. For many single people, just the thought of being in a relationship can stir up stress. If and when people do start dating, the early stages can present them with endless worries: Does he/she really like me? Will this work out? How serious is this? Unfortunately, these worries dont tend to subside in the later stages of a romantic union. In fact, as things get closer between a couple, anxiety can get even more intense. Thoughts come flooding in like: Can this last? Do I really like him/her? Should we slow down? Am I really ready for this kind of commitment? Is he/she losing interest?

    All this worrying about our relationships can make us feel pretty alone. It can lead us to create distance between ourselves and our partner. At its worst, our anxiety can even push us to give up on love altogether. Learning more about the causes and effects of relationship anxiety can help us to identify the negative thinking and actions that can sabotage our love lives. How can we keep our anxiety in check and allow ourselves to be vulnerable to someone we love?

    Recommended Reading: What Does Anxiety And Depression Feel Like

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