Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. However, people with anxiety disorders experience higher levels of anxiety. Their anxiety can interfere with their daily life and create a variety of problems, including marriage problems. If you or your spouse experiences problems with anxiety, it is important to learn about it so you can decide how to manage it.
There are a lot of misconceptions about anxiety. Many people believe that anxiety is bad. Actually, anxiety is a good thing. It is meant to keep you safe. For example, you look both ways before crossing the road because you have anxiety that you might get hit by a car if you didn’t. Anxiety prevents you from doing dangerous things.
Anxiety also helps you to react when there is real-life danger. If you are in a dangerous situation, your anxiety will prepare you to take action. Your body’s reaction, such as your heart beating faster, helps you make a split second decision about what to do next. This fight or flight response determines whether to run away or fight when faced with danger.
The Symptoms Of Anxiety Disorder
When people have an anxiety disorder, they experience disproportionate amounts of anxiety based on the situation. They may be sitting in their living room perfectly safe but their body is responding as if they are face to face with danger. Although the anxiety reaction would be helpful if you were face to face with a hungry lion, when you are in the comfort of your own home it is quite uncomfortable. The anxiety alarm bell can be faulty and can get triggered when it isn’t necessary, such as in the case of anxiety disorders.
Anxiety can include physical symptoms such as headaches or stomach problems. It can also include symptoms of panic, such as an increased heart rate, sweating, and shaking. Sometimes people report a tightness in their chest, difficulty breathing or feeling as if their throat is about to close up.
Anxiety disorders tend to cause anxious thoughts as well. Depending on the type of anxiety someone experiences, they may worry a lot about everything and anything. Sometimes people worry constantly that something bad is going to happen and they may feel paralyzed by their fears. In other cases, such as with obsessive-compulsive disorder, people may worry constantly about the same thing.
How Anxiety Makes Life Difficult
Anxiety becomes a problem when it interferes with a person’s functioning. If anxiety is interfering with a person’s ability to work or go to school it is serious. The other way to determine if someone’s anxiety disorder requires treatment is to examine whether or not it interferes with social functioning. For example, if a person’s anxiety is interfering with their ability to have friends or spend time with family, it would be considered serious. However, if a person has a fear of flying in an airplane yet doesn’t care to ever do so anyway, it isn’t a problem that will require treatment.
People tend to avoid things that will cause them to feel anxious. Anxiety is uncomfortable and no one wants to feel that way. However, avoidance tends to make anxiety worse over time. For example, if a person feels anxious in crowds, the more they avoid crowded situations the more difficult it will be when they eventually have to face a crowd.
Sometimes people avoid going certain places, spending time with certain people, or doing things that are likely to cause them to feel some anxiety. Sadly, for many people with anxiety, their world begins to shrink slowly over time as they try to prevent anxiety. This can really impact a person’s quality of life and ability to function as a part of the family.
What To Do If You Or A Spouse Have Anxiety Disorder
If you or your spouse is suffering from anxiety, don’t suffer in silence. There are many treatment options available for anxiety. Depending on the type of anxiety disorder, medication may be an option to help manage the symptoms. Counseling is another option to help manage anxiety. Exposure therapy can help people slowly desensitize themselves to anxiety-provoking situations. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help people learn to change their underlying thoughts that contribute to anxiety as well.
Talk to your primary care physician about your concerns. Your doctor can rule out any physical health conditions that may be contributing to your anxiety. Your physician also may be able to make a referral to appropriate treatment.
If you suspect your spouse is struggling with anxiety, support your spouse in seeking treatment. If your spouse refuses, consider getting treatment for yourself. This is especially important if it is impacting your marriage. Having a spouse who is not able to join in with fun activities due to anxiety can take a toll over time.