If you or a loved one struggle with anxiety, you have likely seen firsthand the impacts of that anxiety on your everyday life when it comes crashing down like a wave on the calm shore. Anxiety can manifest differently in different people, but this excessive worrying undoubtedly has emotional, mental, and physical impacts that can make the normal tasks of life seem overwhelming or unbearable.
It is beneficial to have someone to turn to for comfort and support in those tough times, but sometimes anxiety can affect those relationships as well. Without intending to, the person struggling with anxiety can alienate even their closest friends, and it is important to recognize how anxiety impacts their behavior and what to do about it.
Here are 5 common ways that anxiety can affect relationships:
Anxiety can cause a person to become overly dependent on one or more of their close companions to the point where they are deeply distressed when their partner or friend isn’t always around or available for them. While it is comforting for the person suffering from anxiety, the other person often feels smothered or exhausted by the person’s behavior and expectations, ultimately putting a strain on the relationship.
Another way that people with anxiety cope with their crushing worry and overwhelming emotions is to withdraw from the community, seeking to hide what is really going on perhaps out of shame or because they don’t know what else to do. In relationships, this can manifest in frequently canceling plans, shutting down when asked even the most basic questions, and providing illogical excuses for their behavior. Avoidance leads to both members in the relationship feeling lonely and discouraged.
Just as anxiety amplifies even the smallest of problems into overwhelming mountains to (worry about and then) conquer, anxiety can unnecessarily amplify relational disagreements or squabbles. This can cause the person with anxiety to become overly angry or belligerent about something that would typically only annoy them without the influence of anxiety. Perhaps their partner forgot to take out the trash or pick up milk at the store, but the person with anxiety overreacts to the point where they are saying or doing things that are detrimental to the relationship.
Skepticism might appear in conjunction with dependence, or it could show up on its own, but anxiety is known to make people question the intentions of others, always assuming that they have been up to no good or intentionally excluding the person from an activity. This tendency to very quickly lose trust in someone who has otherwise been trustworthy is unsettling to both parties and can cause a rift between them.
Behaviors such as unexplained mood swings, uncontrollable emotions, and overall displeasure can also be related to anxiety. These types of emotional instability can make it difficult to carry on a functional and beneficial relationship because it does not allow for the necessary give and take between partners and friends. Everyone goes through particularly irritable moods from time to time, but anxiety often won’t release its grip on these types of emotions, making it difficult for both parties to adjust to.
What to do about it:
In addition to pursuing individual therapy for anxiety, it would be beneficial for partners or couples to also do some Couples Counseling long beach to learn how to communicate better and react in a more level-headed manner when a wave of anxiety hits. The last thing the person with anxiety needs is to alienate their closest friends when they could really be their biggest support system.
Talk therapy will provide you both with the resources to remain on the same team and recognize what is going on in the moment. Through cognitive behavioral therapy, the person with anxiety can learn how to handle their feelings and emotions more adequately and relate in a healthier way with those around them.