How to Help A Spouse With Anxiety.

Spouse With Anxiety


Did you know that anxiety is the leading mental health disorder in the United States?  According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, more than 18% of the population is struggling with anxiety in various ways. The question is, how then is anxiety affecting couples?

How anxiety and stress affect couples

Anxiety is expressed in various ways including Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Phobias, panic attacks and others.

When one partner is affected by an anxiety disorder, the stress level of the couple is heightened. Conflicts increase. Life may become unbearable for the couple.

If a partner has social phobia, he or she will want to avoid social activities. He or she may hesitate to attend family gatherings and other important social events. The other partner may struggle with these tendencies. Their social life may suffer for fear of always leaving one partner behind.

A spouse suffering from extreme anxiety might not be able to be employed. Financial demands increase the strain on the family. The stress level rises as well.

Stress is a definite killer of intimacy between couples.  If a couple is not intimate, they start to pull apart. The partner with anxiety feels guilty and may blame himself or herslf for what has occurred.

How to support the partner with anxiety?

The surest way a couple can prevent their love despite anxiety challenges is through understanding and support.

The following steps can help a spouse support the other through their anxiety:

Learn more about the anxiety your partner is going through. Observe carefully how he or she behaves and find out more about the disorder from a professional or from the internet.

Encourage your partner to seek therapy. Emphatically explain to your partner how much your life as a couple can improve if you both find a way to cope with the disorder. Offer to go with your partner for the sessions.

Be patient. Therapy is a process. It might take some time to register any improvements. It would help if you could ask the therapist to involve you in the treatment plan so that you can offer support.

Never trivialize the anxiety condition or the triggers. You may never understand your partner’s experiences.

Finally,  make sure that you also take care of your own mental health. Establish habits that will help in managing your stress levels. Having a clear mind will enable you to offer loving support to your partner.


Surprisingly, anxiety is one of the most treatable mental disorders. The following are some of the treatment procedures that might help:

•    Therapy sessions are highly effective in empowering us to deal with anxiety.

•    There are certain medications that are also effective in treating anxiety.

•    Behavioral exercises are effective in controlling stress. A therapist can suggest which physical activities are most effective.

In conclusion, anxiety can put a lot of pressure on a couple. However, with love and support, many treatment methods can help the couple cope with the condition and experience freedom from stress and anxiety.


Feel free to ask questions, leave your comments or schedule an appointment.

8 thoughts on “How to Help A Spouse With Anxiety.

  1. Thank you for this information. It is difficult enough to deal with your own anxieties whilst also dealing with your partners as well but you have given me some great tips here.
    Thank you

    1. Thank you, Karen.I am glad you found some helpful tips here for managing anxiety. You are right, it is difficult to be in a relationship with an anxious person. If both partners are anxious, they may be easily triggered by each other’s anxious reactions. Partners may overreact to any anxiety-provoking event since they are not able to soothe themselves. They may be acting out and jumping to conclusions since anxiety makes people more impulsive and vulnerable. It is important to slow down and think before speaking or doing. This will relieve some anxiety and give time to find the right response. It may be the first necessary step to preserve the relationship.

  2. You are right Olina, anxiety can be such a problem area if left unattended. The partners need to trust each other and willing to seek and extend support to tackle this devil.
    Good read.
    Thank you

    1. Thank you for reading, Deepika.Good point about trust, since anxiety may lead to extreme suspiciousness and worries about the partner’s loyalty, trust, etc. To calm the devil, the best way is to explore with your partner the source of his/her anxiety, providing gentle reassurance and understanding. This is far preferable to withdrawal and angry outbursts that can cause more disturbance in the relationship.

  3. great article full of great information. I know few couples that either one partner or both partners are suffering from anxiety. In the situation when both partners are suffering from anxiety will make things even more complicated. You offered some really great tips. I will let them check out your website and get some help. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Hong, for reading. Unfortunately, many couples are unaware how the presence of anxiety and stress may affect their relationship. Research on anxiety and relationship quality on couples where one partner has an anxiety disorder suggests that these couples are “likely to experience poor relationship quality”( J Abnorm Psychol. 2010 Feb; 119(1): 163–173.).
      If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, consider seeking help. No one should be alone when help is available. There are many techniques and tools to help people to alleviate anxiety and improve relationship.

  4. Hi Olina,

    Thanks for this article. Anxiety does affect a couple’s life immensely if left unchecked. Work stress, finances and sometimes children all contribute to it. In my personal and family life, we do a lot of communication to help each other understand what’s going through our minds because a situation that is stressful to one side may not be so to the other partner. I am not sure if this is true for everyone but it seems that most couples including me and my wife are quite opposites of each other. Put simply, our strengths complement each other’s weaknesses and this really helps to relieve the overall anxiety the family is going through from time to time. Anxiety will always be around, how we deal with it together as couples make a difference.

    1. Jude, You are right- explaining to your partner what is on your mind instead of assuming that he/she should read your mind is one of the successful steps to the better communication and decreasing anxiety in relationships. Each partner has a different life experience. Each partner can see a situation from a different standpoint. When partners jump into conclusion, based on they individulal way of thinking, they usually come to the wrong idea of their partner’s intention. And this, definitely will contribute to their anxiety/stress level.

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