Although it’s a problem that can make you feel very isolated, anxiety affects over 40 million US adults every year. That means you’re not alone — no matter how much you might feel that way.
Anxiety is common, but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier to deal with of course. It can create a lot of problems in your personal life, your career, and even your relationships with other people.
If you’re wondering how anxiety affects relationships — and what you can potentially do about it — read on to find out the many ways it can influence them.
If you can recognize the signs, it’s a good first step.
You Might Withdraw
If the anxiety you have — or that a loved one has — is social, it might cause you to withdraw from events and the people around you. Social anxiety often makes you want to be alone, even from loved ones.
Even if you are comfortable around a loved one still, you might not want to see anyone else. You might distance yourself from the people around both of you, which could strain your relationship.
Withdrawal is one of the most common signs of anxiety and is the one that tends to hit relationships the quickest.
If you find yourself starting to withdraw — either from loved ones or more distant friends — it might be time to seek some help.
You Might Become Dependent
The opposite might happen. When people ask how anxiety ruins relationships, they often think of the withdrawal, but not the dependency that can happen.
If you’re withdrawing from those around you, or even just suffering from anxious thoughts, you might not want to be alone and only around a loved one you trust.
Unfortunately, this can often mean that immense pressure is put on the loved one. Even though they’re usually happy to be around you, being around them 24/7 can become exhausting.
Everyone should be able to exist and be happy in their own company.
Just remember, it’s healthy to be independent and if you’re finding that impossible at the moment, it’s a strong sign that you might be suffering from anxiety.
You Could Snap
When people think of anxiety attacks, they generally think of something like panic attacks — struggling to breathe, perhaps spiraling thoughts, and other things typically associated with anxious feelings.
This isn’t always the case.
Anxiety attacks can also come in the form of temperamental outbursts. People suffering from anxiety often say things they don’t mean in the heat of the moment and lash out in an attempt to hurt someone.
This is done in a way they never would if they weren’t suffering from anxiety.
It’s important to try and be understanding if it’s a loved one suffering from anxiety, but also encourage them to get help. The outbursts might not feel pleasant at all, but remember there’s likely an underlying reason if someone is far more bad-tempered than they used to be.
You Might Behave Selfishly
If you are suffering from anxiety disorders and relationships are beginning to fall apart as a result, you could end up getting worse because of selfishness.
Of course, suffering from anxiety doesn’t mean someone is, at heart, selfish. Anxiety causes people to act in ways they never would without those crushing feelings, but it can manifest in the form of perceived selfishness.
You might become so wrapped up in your own fears that they seem to be all that matters.
You might be struggling with such a weight that you can’t see what the people around you are going through.
Although it’s important to remember this isn’t necessarily your fault, it can make you miss the problems of others and they might become resentful.
It Can Ruin Communication
How does anxiety impact relationships most of all? It ruins communication.
This could be because of:
- Anxiety attacks causing outbursts, so true, honest communication becomes difficult
- You have anxious thoughts and are afraid to voice them out loud for fear of seeming irrational
- Your anxiety is causing you to worry that loved ones will leave if you are honest with them
There are many ways that anxiety can damage communication, and it often takes help to get through. If you can talk it out, however, it’s important to try.
It Can Affect Intimacy
In romantic relationships, anxiety can affect intimacy. You might worry about what your partner thinks of you in that situation, or it might simply be that the anxious thoughts can overwhelm you and make your drive very low.
Like every other anxiety symptom, it’s important to remember that it isn’t your fault and not be pressured — however, if it’s causing a major change, it’s still time to look for help.
The most important thing, aside from fixing your relationships, is your own happiness. Make sure you prioritize it.
Now You Know How Anxiety Affects Relationships, You Can Help
Whether it’s your own anxiety that’s been affecting your relationships or you suspect a loved one is suffering from it, you can help. If these situations seem familiar to you, it might give you a little bit more understanding and patience.
People who suffer from anxiety can’t help it, but it is important to try and alleviate the weight. When it comes to how anxiety affects relationships, there are numerous ways, each as unpleasant as the last.
For more anxiety and mental health resources, including a social anxiety self-test, check out the rest of our site.