Partners and families an anxiety
What happens when someone you love has an anxiety disorder?
When someone in the partners and families an anxiety disorder, it affects everyone and brings added pressures. Because most people experience some degree of anxiety in life, it may be quite some time before your relative receives an accurate diagnosis and begins to receive treatment.
Your relative may have heard well-meaning advice, like, “You worry too much. Relax.” Or, “What’s the problem with going out of the house? Just do it!” You may even have said these things to your relative.
To a person without an anxiety disorder, these statements would be good advice, but having an anxiety disorder involves more than the usual worry. Your relative may require professional help to get well.
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It is natural for families and partners to feel resentful or disappointed when anxiety interferes with normal family life. Acknowledging the illness can be the first step toward understanding and making the family work again.
When your relative is first diagnosed When a member of your family is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, you may experience varied and conflicting emotions.
Often when a family learns that an anxiety disorder is the cause of their relative’s worry and behaviour, they feel relief to finally know what the problem is, but they may also feel uncomfortable emotions, such as sadness, fear, guilt or anger.
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You may fear how the illness will affect the future for your relative, and for you. If you are the parent of a child or young adult who has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, you may feel guilty and blame yourself for the illness. You may fear that you have done something to bring this on, even when health care professionals tell you that this is not the case.
Not surprisingly, you may feel angry that an anxiety disorder has disrupted the life of your family.
It is normal to experience this wide range of feelings. Understanding this, and learning to accept and manage your feelings, will reduce your stress and help you to be more helpful to the person who is struggling with the anxiety disorder.
The two main schools of thought that attempt to explain the psychological influences on anxiety disorders are the cognitive and behavioural theories. The ideas expressed by these theories help us to understand cognitive-behavioral treatment.
A third way of looking at the psychological causes of anxiety is the developmental theory, which seeks to understand our experience of anxiety as adults by looking at what we learn as children. of conscious control. The fear is felt before there is time to tell if danger is near. Such cues may be external or internal.
An example of an external cue might be a certain smell that occurred at the time of the stressful event. When this smell occurs again, even at a time when there is no danger present, the person is reminded of the event and becomes fearful.
How to relate to your family member
1. Learn as much as you can about the symptoms of and treatments for your relative’s anxiety disorder. This will help you understand and support your relative as he or she makes changes.
2. Encourage your family member to follow the treatment plan. If you have questions about your relative’s treatment, ask your relative if it would be possible to speak to a member of his or her treatment team.
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