Did you ever play ‘telephone’ when you were little? You may have whispered a secret message into the ear of a friend. That kid then whispered the ‘same’ message into the ear of her friend. We would whisper these messages around to the last kid who would have the job of announcing the message to the group.
More often than not, the final message sounded nothing like the original message. That is because every person has a unique way of hearing and sharing information. Sometimes it is accurate, sometimes not so much.
Language obviously is one of the primary ways in which we communicate in relationship, it is a necessary evil. However, when each person uses their unique language filters, information very often becomes altered. Personal experiences and unique language filters can make discussing and understanding anxiety disorders difficult. While we all experienced anxious moments from time to time, not all of us are experiencing anxiety disorders.
How many times have you heard some close say something like ‘I was having a panic attack yesterday when he didn’t show up’? They probably were not having a panic attack; they were merely concerned that their partner was late.
When we assume that we have an issue with anxiety, without understanding the symptoms of anxiety disorders, we may be getting it wrong. Using particular language that may or may not be accurate to convey a familiar feeling, is not the same as truly knowing something.
Panic Disorder Versus Social Anxiety
In 2013, there were 8.2 million reported cases of anxiety in the UK. There are two primary forms of anxiety disorder, and for this discussion, it’s essential to make the distinction between each.
People who have been diagnosed with and suffer from panic disorder believe very strongly that the panic attacks they experience means that something is physically wrong with them. For instance, many sufferers think that they have had a heart attack. They may believe the dizziness and shortness of breath is a result of some severe and undiagnosed illness rather than a panic attack.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Those with social anxiety disorder experience heightened feelings of anxiety when faced with social situations. They do not believe their worries are related to illness, yet they often struggle to control their fear of social interactions. This type of anxiety often becomes debilitating when the person fears they could be singled out, embarrassed or ridiculed by this struggle.
People who deal with a social anxiety disorder will find creative ways to try and alleviate their fear. Often, the amount of social interactions they have on a daily basis gets reduced. This disorder negatively impacts a person’s ability to connect with others emotionally and holds them back in their career and relationships.
Do I Deal With An Anxiety Disorder?
It is reasonable to feel anxious, fearful and worried from time to time. But feeling anxiety daily, to the point where you are concerned for your physical health, or it is compromising your relationships is not healthy.
It Is Possible To Treat Anxiety Disorders?
It is miserable to live with a debilitating anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are treatable, and a psychotherapist can help support you to uncover the root cause of fear and provide strategies to cope. If you or someone close to you is interested in exploring how to deal with anxiety and its effect on your relationship, please contact me. I would be very happy to speak with you about how couples counselling may be able to help. I offer couples therapy from my office in Hove or Online.