A certain level of anxiety is natural in certain situations. An anxiety disorder is generally defined as a relatively constant feeling of panic, depression and worry that something bad is inevitable. This may or may not be accompanied by physical symptoms such as panic attacks and other physiological symptoms such as restlessness, fatigue and insomnia. Individually one may show different symptoms from the same underlying problem, others may show no outward appearance that anything is wrong at all. Within a relationship both the causes and the symptoms of anxiety may vary.
Causes of Anxiety within a Relationship
Many of the things that cause an individual anxiety are also to blame for anxiety within a relationship. One of the most common causes for anxiety is a person’s financial situation. However, within a relationship this may be magnified, especially if children are involved. Other sources are traumatic events within the family, or a disorder in one or the other partner. Specifically in a relationship one may have a feeling of distrust of the partner, or a feeling that the other is “out to get them.” This feeling generally is not overt but something felt on a subconscious level. This feeling may or may not have any basis in reality.
These feelings are more common in a relationship where one or the other partner becomes abusive either physically or mentally. This behavior may also be caused by anxiety and not the cause of anxiety.
Symptoms of Anxiety within a Relationship
The symptoms already discussed such as panic attacks, feelings of depression or impending disaster, restlessness, fatigue and more are present both within a relationship and in individuals when one partner suffers from anxiety. Additional symptoms of anxiety within a relationship can include a lack of intimacy and a loss of communication within the relationship.
The Effect of Anxiety on Relationships
A “distance” between partners may be the most common description couples give when their relationship is affected by anxiety. This includes both a physical connection and a loss of communication. Anxiety in one partner can easily carry over to the other, creating something like a vicious circle where each partner’s behavior increases the anxiety of the other. This can lead to all of the physical and emotional symptoms already discussed. Anxiety is often a major cause for separation in couples.
The Effect of Anxiety on Children
Anxiety within a relationship may be more problematic when there are children involved. Often children will pick up on the mood of a parent and it can lead to anxiety within the child. Symptoms include fears about safety, feeling worry for things which have not happened, an unwillingness to meet others outside of the family and more. Physically a child may have stomach aches, act out, throw tantrums or become excessively clingy.
Methods for Coping with Anxiety
Anxiety has a number of causes and this will often determine treatment. If there is an underlying medical cause a doctor may prescribe medication. If anxiety is caused by outside factors, there are many coping strategies including therapy. If anxiety has disrupted a relationship, couples counseling or individual counseling may be advised.