Case History: Anxiety in Relationships

Individuals with “generalized anxiety” tend to face life through a filter of “worry.”

This often leads to worrying about trivial problems and expecting the worst possible outcome.

One such patient, a man in his late 40s, a married father of two teen-age boys, reported that his overall anxiety had increased after his doctor told him he had hypertension (high blood pressure). He is afraid that he’ll never be or feel healthy again and fears dying prematurely. Also, he reports being in a relationship that is highly conflicted/anxiety provoking and realizes that it is not in his best interest to stay as his partner is abusive and unwilling to get help. So, the question is, “How much of the anxiety that is due to non-relational life circumstances (hypertension) is neutralized by staying in the relationship (even though it is not healthy)?”

Though this was the first time he had ever spoken to a psychiatrist, he agreed that it would be helpful to get treatment to learn how to better manage his feelings of anxiety in order to keep it from being managed/discharged in unhealthy relationships/behaviors.

Take Home: The mind looks for ways to discharge anxiety, some turn to substances while others turn to the psychological comforts of knowing that they’re in an established relationship (Healthy or unhealthy). We must learn to manage our anxieties for ourselves and within ourselves and be less dependent on external sources for short term relief.