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I am sorry to hear about the problems you are experiencing. Anxiety can certainly impact all areas of life, including relationships. Millions of people (an estimated 15% of the population) suffer from devastating and constant anxiety that severely affects their lives, sometimes resulting in living in highly restricted ways. These people experience panic attacks, phobias, extreme shyness, obsessive thoughts, and compulsive behaviors. The feeling of anxiety is a constant and dominating force that disrupts their lives. Some become prisoners in their own homes, unable to leave the home, work, drive, or visit the grocery store. For these people, anxiety is much more than just an occasional wave of apprehension.
Common symptoms of panic include:
• Racing or pounding heart
• Sweaty palms
• Feelings of terror
• Chest pains/heaviness in chest
• Dizziness and lightheadedness
• Fear of dying
• Fear of going crazy
• Fear of losing control
• Feeling unable to catch breath
• Tingling hands, feet, legs, arms
Generalized anxiety disorder is quite common, affecting an estimated 3 to 4% of the population. This disorder fills a person’s life with worry, anxiety, and fear. People who have this disorder are always thinking and dwelling on the “what ifs” of every situation. It feels like there is no way out of the vicious cycle of anxiety and worry. The person often becomes depressed about life and their inability to stop worrying.
People who have generalized anxiety usually do not avoid situations, and they don’t generally have panic attacks. They can become incapacitated by an inability to shut the mind off, and are overcome with feelings of worry, dread, fatigue, and a loss of interest in life. The person usually realizes these feelings are irrational, but the feelings are also very real. The person’s mood can change from day to day, or even hour to hour. Feelings of anxiety and mood swings become a pattern that severely disrupts the quality of life.
People with generalized anxiety disorder often have physical symptoms including headaches, irritability, frustration, trembling, inability to concentrate, and sleep disturbances. They may also have symptoms of social phobia and panic disorder.
Most people who suffer from anxiety disorders begin to feel better when they receive the proper treatment. It can be difficult to identify the correct treatment, however, because each person’s anxiety is caused by a unique set of factors. It can be frustrating for the client when treatment is not immediately successful or takes longer than hoped for. Some clients feel better after a few weeks or months of treatment, while others may need a year or more. If a person has an anxiety disorder in combination with another disorder (such as alcoholism and depression), treatment is more complicated and takes longer.
While a treatment plan must be specifically designed for each individual, generally a combination of individual therapy, often in conjunction with medication can be quite effective. I would not recommend simply taking medication without individual therapy since the underlying issues will not be addressed in this way.
In addition, sharing information with your wife about anxiety, rather than talking to her in an anxious way, may help her to understand the role that anxiety is playing in the marital problems.
I hope this answer is helpful. Please let me know if I can clarify further.