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How To Help My Wife With Anxiety And Depression

Know That The Odds Are In Your Favor


Up to 80 percent of people report seeing an improvement within four to six weeks of starting treatment, according to statistics from the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Usually, the road back is relatively simple: antidepressants, counseling, or a combination of the two, they report. That said, recovery may take time and patience, Walfish says. There may be an initial trial-and-error period while you try various antidepressants or see whether various therapy techniques, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal counseling, are helpful. The results are worth it.

What Not To Do When Your Wife Is Anxious

When youre in the thick of it and your wife is feeling anxious, there are four things I see husbands attempt that inevitably backfire. When youre talking with your wife about her anxiety, keep these four things in mind as what NOT to do:

1. DONT try to fix or solve whatever is going on.

Now, I know Im stereotyping here, but Im going to go out on a limb and say that men really want to do this. You want to fix it.

If your wife is worried about you going out with your friends, you might say, Fine, I wont go!

If your wife is worried about how youre loading the child car seat, you might just stop doing it, thinking that if she wants it done a certain way she can do it herself.

Problem solved. Right? Not so fast.

These types of fixes lead to resentment , and can end with both partners feeling like they cant do anything right, or cant express how theyre feeling without having to take on yet another task.

Rest assured you dont need to have a solution or a fix for your wifes anxiety.

2. DONT make it about you.

When your wife is in the middle of something triggering her anxiety, its universally unhelpful to say things like, Your anxiety is driving me nuts! Or, Do you know how hard it is to live with this?

Becoming defensive or dismissive is another potential pitfall in this category. Resist saying things like, You call me nonstop! Or, We have enough in savings, so dont worry about it.

3. DONT be judgmental.

Find Ways To Make Use Of Any Insight They Have Into Their Anxiety

If your loved one has insight into their anxiety, you can help them spot when their anxiety-driven patterns are occurring. I find it helpful when my spouse notices that Im expressing my anxiety about work by being irritable with her or by being too fussy. Because we know each others patterns so well and have a trusting relationship, we can point out each others habits. Not that this is always met with grace, but the message sinks in anyway.

If youre going to do this, its a good idea to have their permission first. Keep in mind that people who have insight into their anxiety often still feel compelled to give in to their anxious thoughts. For instance, a person with health anxiety might logically know that going to the doctor every week for multiple tests is unnecessary, but they cant help themselves. If your loved one lacks insight into their anxiety or has trouble managing compulsions, its probably best to encourage them to see a clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of anxiety.

Read Also: Can Hypnosis Help With Anxiety And Depression

Anxiety Breaks Down Trust And Connection

Anxiety causes fear or worry that can make you less aware of your true needs in a given moment. It can also make you less attuned to the needs of your partner. If youre worried about what could be happening, its difficult to pay attention to what is happening. When you feel overwhelmed, your partner may feel as though you arent present.

so train your brain to live in the moment. If you notice a fear or concern that causes your thoughts to stray from the facts or the present moment, pause and think about what you know . Calm down before you act. You can make purposeful steps to build trust in your partner. Share openly when youre feeling worried, and consciously reach out to your partner when you might normally withdraw or attack in fear.

I Refuse To Let My Wife’s Depression Ruin Our Marriage

My Wife Has Serious Depression Severe Anxiety And Other

Anyone who’s ever been married knows that making a relationship last is hard.

When two people marry, they try to build a life together that often involves differences of opinion on living habits, money trouble, kids, and so on. Even something as simple as sharing a toothpaste tube can make a relationship difficult.

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Communicate With Your Spouse

When you have a spouse with mental illness, it can be easy to feel as if you are walking on eggshells, fearful that you will say or do the wrong thing or that your own concerns are not worth bringing up. It can be common for both of you to attribute legitimate relationship issues with symptoms of mental illness, keeping you from dealing with them as real conflicts. You may also both resent the patient-caretaker dynamic that so often emerges when a partner has a mental health disorder. Talking to your spouse about what both of you are experiencing can be essential to understanding each other and learning how to effectively nurture your relationship in troubled times.

The hard part has been the unspoken expectations and resentments that can pile up between us when were navigating an illness episode, says Mark Lukach, whose wife struggles with bipolar disorder. After the first one, we have had to have some really hard talks. Talking through our experiences let us share our pain, resentment, and tensionand realize that were in this together and have an unshakeable bond.

Questions To Encourage Self

Self-education and self-care are both vital to successfully helping care for and foster a healthy relationship with a partner living with depression.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness reminds caregivers that you must first take care of yourself to be able to take care of the people you love. To do this successfully, here are a few questions to ask yourself in private:

  • Are you getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night?
  • Are you drinking or using drugs to cope with the stress?
  • Are you exercising daily?
  • Are you experiencing physical symptoms like headaches, insomnia, or digestive issues?
  • Do you have people you can talk to who understand what youre going through?
  • Where can you locate resources to help you?

Karen likens it to the oxygen mask that will drop from the ceiling of an airplane in the unlikely event of losing cabin pressure. Any parent would have the impulse to put it on their children first, but that usually results in the parent losing consciousness before they save the child. Both people suffer.

Put your oxygen mask on first, so you can best help your partner with this challenging situation.

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Anxiety Causes You To Behave Selfishly

Because anxiety is an overactive fear response, someone experiencing it may at times focus too much on his or her own concerns or problems.

Your worries and fears may be putting unnecessary pressure on your relationship. You may feel like you need to worry in order to protect yourself in your relationship, but it might be keeping you from being compassionate and vulnerable with your partner.

If your partner experiences anxiety, you may build up resentment and react in selfish ways as well. The attitudes and perspectives that we have are contagious. Keeping your stress levels under control is especially hard when your partner is feeling anxious, upset, or defensive.

so attendto your needs, not your fears. When you notice yourself becoming fearful or defensive, take a moment to consider the compassion that you have for yourself and your partner. Clearly ask for the support you need to feel loved and understood. Apologize for letting anxiety make you self-absorbed.

Unhealthy levels of anxiety make you feel as though an emotional rock is in your stomach almost all the time.

Instead I Started To Recognize The Signs Of My Wife’s Different Stages Of The Disease And Through Trial And Error Started To Notice Which Actions Actually Helped And Which Ones Made Her Depression Worse

How Do I Help My Wife Battle Her Depression?

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We also started talking more about depression and how she felt when struggling with it. Eventually, I began to understand what depression does to a person and that my wife’s actions while going through it weren’t her fault.

Now, I approach my wifes depression as if it isnt part of our marriage. I view it as a disease that takes control of my wifes brain and renders her temporarily incapacitated.

Does a son blame his dad who suffers from Alzheimers from forgetting who he is? No. Similarly, the woman who sleeps through the day and sobs through the night isnt really my wife. My wife is in there somewhere, but the hurt and the struggle and pain that affects both of us isnt caused by my wife.

Her inability to do things like dress the kids, go to the grocery store, or even something as simple as showing love isnt her fault and it isnt her choice. She isnt choosing to feel the way she feels, and allowing something that she can’t control to damage our marriage is unfair to both of us.

Living with someone who struggles with depression is difficult.

There are weeks at a time where my wife will struggle just to get out of bed, leaving me as a single parent of two kids. Also, when the stresses of everyday life hit me, I can’t go to my wife with my struggles because she can’t mentally help me cope with them.

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How Anxiety Destroys Relationships

There is an abundance of information about how anxiety impacts our healthmentally, emotionally, and physically. Have you considered the impact anxiety may have on the health of your relationship?

Anxiety can cause periods of panic, feelings of fear or overwhelm, and a general sense of unease and tension. It can take over your thoughts and bleed into many areas of your life.

If you are feeling a strain on your relationship, anxiety may be playing a role. Could your anxiety be putting your relationship at risk?

Heres how and why anxiety destroys relationships, and what you can do to stop it.

Be Your Partners Stress

Heres the good news:

While you cant fix your wifes anxiety, you do have the power to make a difference in how she experiences it.

You can add to her stress and anxiety by becoming angry, defensive, and shutting down.

Or, you can be a stress reducer a safe haven for your wife when shes battling the storm. The key is to listen to your wife the way she wants to be listened to.

In order to do this, there are four things I want you NOT to do, and three things I want you TO DO in your conversations with your wife about her anxiety.

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Talk About Your Wifes Anxiety

So often, I hear from men that they avoid talking about their wives anxiety for fear of making it worse. They hope that by not bringing it up, itll be forgotten or at the very least minimized.

In reality, the opposite is true.

Anxiety is based in fear, and fears tend to grow in the dark.

Instead of ignoring your wifes anxiety, lean into it. By talking about whats triggering your wifes anxiety in a helpful and supportive way, youre being an ally someone she can trust to face her fears with her.

There are two things I want to clarify:

  • Struggling with anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of. More often than not, at the root of anxiety is a deep care for yourself, your partner, your family, and your loved ones. And regardless of whats triggering the anxiety, the experience of being afraid and anxious is really tough. Recognizing your anxiety for what it is and getting help doesnt make a person weak, it makes them brave.

Ok, now that weve cleared that up, lets get into the meat of it. How can you support your partner whos feeling anxious? And how can you, as the anxious partner, continue to connect with your spouse?

Include Your Partner In Self

15 Ways to Help Your Depressed Husband or Wife

Do you have any rituals or hobbies you use to take care of your mental health? Maybe you meditate, run or listen to relaxing music. If so, try to include your partner.

Ive done breathing exercises with boyfriends and its very intimate, said life coach Nina Rubin. Weve sat across from each other and breathed at the same slow rate.

Including your partner in rituals like this can help both of you reduce anxiety in the relationship.

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Find Outdoor Activities To Do Together

When it comes to depression, sometimes the little things we take for granted are a win, like the ability to get out of the house. It can be helpful when someone is there to provide a little encouragement.

You may want to suggest doing some fun outdoor activities with your partner. Being in contact with nature may help reduce stress levels and improve mood. Physical activity can also promote the release of feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain.

It can be something simple, like taking a walk around the block or a short bike ride on a trail. If your partner is up for it, you could also go for a swim, try rollerblading together, or take an outdoor yoga class.

You can also do something more laid-back, like go to an outdoor concert, take a camping trip, or have a picnic in the park.

Sometimes they may not be up for an activity. Remember, this is not about you, so try not to take it personally. Be prepared to continue on with some plans by yourself or adapt your ideas to what they need that day.

Perhaps bring a good book, take a journal, or find a good podcast to listen to while you sit next to them. If they prefer to be by themselves, they might need you to accept this without trying to convince them otherwise.

Dont Invalidate Her Feelings

She cant control the thoughts that arise. She can cope with them in a variety of ways her therapist will eventually teach her, but she cant make the thoughts go away especially in the early stages of her disease. Moreover, these thoughts feel brutally real. They tell her that shes worthless, that shes a bad mother, that she doesnt deserve her child. Dont brush her off with Honey, you know thats not true, because and proceed to argue with her disease. It doesnt work. Youll only force her to maintain that she is indeed worthless.

Instead, try Im so sorry you feel that way. It must hurt a lot to feel like that. She needs someone to validate that shes in pain. This helps her feel supported and safe.

Read Also: How To Get Rid Of Anxiety For Good

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