Anxiety disorders can have a negative impact on a person’s relationships with friends, family members or romantic partners. Anxiety involves excessive worrying, heightened stress and a fear of negative experiences. These feelings can lead to irrational thoughts that can impact how a person views their relationships.
The two main ways that anxiety makes maintaining healthy relationships difficult is through dependence and avoidance. Some people with generalized anxiety disorder may desire close bonds with their peers and try too hard to please others. Others may want detachment, which closes themselves off from friends and family members.
Aside from generalized anxiety, other types of anxiety disorders (such as agoraphobia, panic disorders and social anxiety) can strain relationships too. Agoraphobia is a fear of panic attacks occurring in public places, being unable to escape to a private place and suffering embarrassment in front of friends or family. This type of anxiety disorder can cause people to avoid public places or social interaction altogether, potentially ruining their chance at developing meaningful relationships with new people.
Social anxiety is the type of anxiety disorder that most often links to the quality of a person’s relationships with others. For example, someone with social anxiety may fear that their peers think poorly of them. Feelings of jealousy and inferiority are common among people with social anxiety, and these internal struggles can cause people to close themselves off as protection from potential pain. Additionally, people with social anxiety may overvalue their relationships with others and become too reliant on validation from their friends or family members. This dependence is unhealthy.
Speaking with a mental health professional can help people who have anxiety. Understanding how anxiety can affect someone’s relationships is important, and therapy can help people learn coping mechanisms to avoid becoming too dependent or distant from others. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration can assist you in finding a therapist or counselor to begin treatment. The Recovery Village also offers digital resources to help people who are struggling with anxiety and rely on substance abuse as a coping mechanism.