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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How do I look after my health & my husband when he suffers anxiety?

    My husband of 2 mths has suffered from anxiety ever since I met him. He hates relying on his medication & when he starts to feel better he stops taking them saying he hates how they make him feel. What I feel like has been out of the blue but perhaps brewing in his mind longer he has said that he does not know if he can give me what I need or deserve. He is very unhappy with everything in his life and thinks that I should stop wasting my time with him. I do not want to give up on our marriage; I know that his anxiety is what is making him doubt us. How do I go about looking after myself as well? I feel so overwhelmed & emotionally tired but I need to be positive and motivating to him. He tells me that this is not about me that it is about him & he has never felt this bad about himself but I sometimes feel like I have failed him. He is my very best friend & I can’t imagine my life without him, how do I move forward in way that is positive for both of us?
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  • 1

    Thanks

    Jan Seeley

    Counselling Psychologist, Psychologist

    Jan Seeley is a Counselling Psychologist and a member of the Australian Psychological Society with a Master of Counselling (Psychology). For over 25 years she … View Profile

    When one partner suffers from chronic anxiety it can strain the marriage in many ways.  One of the dangers for the partner of someone who experiences anxiety, is that they because they hate to see their loved one suffering, they begin to modify their behaviours to help them.  For example, if socialising is an anxiety provoking activity, over time the couple may come to socialise less and less and this can be of long term detriment to both people.  People who experience anxiety often develop a range of avoidance behaviours, that is they avoid those situations which they believe trigger their anxiety.  If their partner buys into this, this actually reinforces a negative coping strategy.  Often it can feel like the anxiety is controlling the relationship.  You can support your husband by letting him know you love him regardless of his anxiety, but it is not up to you to fix him and it is dangerous if you feel pressured to maintain your positivity and motivation to prop him up.  It is important that you care for yourself and that, while you support your husband, he has to take responsibility for his care.  Medication is only part of the solution and there are many therapeutic approaches that can help people to manage and reduce their anxiety ie. CBT and Mindfulness therapies which include methods for lowering the bodies physiological arousal and for managing anxiety provoking thinking.  Some medicos treat the symptoms with medication but don't do any therapeutic work so if the person stops taking the medication the symptoms return.  Depression is a common reaction to chronic anxiety.  It is likely your husband could benefit from therapy aimed at helping him to reduce his symptoms.  He can do this while taking medication so that he has resources to assist him when he does try to stop medication again.  I hope this is helpful

  • I have been working in Eltham, Melbourne as a relationship and family counsellor for over twelve years. I draw on current theory and research about … View Profile

    Wow - you two have been through a really tough time, only 2 months married and dealing with what sounds like pretty severe anxiety!
    It sounds like you are really trying to help your husband by staying positive and motivated for him - but I get the sense that you are starting to realize this isn't sustainable, that he is the one who needs to get help so he can learn strategies to manage his own anxiety.

    It's really important that you get your own support - the Carers Association in your state can provide free counselling services that will help you as a family member work out what you need to make sure you don't get too overwhelmed or depleted, and how to support your husband without this being at the expense of what you need. To find the one for your state, go to the Carers Australia website at http://www.carersaustralia.org.au/how-we-work/national-programs/national-carer-counselling-program/

    Sometimes people experience side-effects of anti-anxiety medications such as loss of libido or ability to emotionally connect to their partners and loved ones, and this can result in them choosing not to continue on with the medication. If this is the case for your husband, it might be helpful for him to ask to see a psychiatrist rather than a GP. A psychiatrist is a specialist in medical intervention for mental health issues, and can work out what is the best medication for him in a way that fits for his particular situation.

    All the best

    Vivienne Colegrove

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