What's the best way to deal with someone in an anxiety crisis?

When my partner enters an extreme anxiety phase it feels impossible to talk with him rationally. He gets tunnelled visioned, becomes obsessed with detail and doesn't seem able to see the big picture anymore. He gets so overwhelmed with issues that he stays up all night, he doesn't eat properly and he stops doing exercise, and it then becomes a vicious circle. He also refuses to take antidepressants although they calm him down and he won't take valium short term for fear of addiction. I want to share the load with him and support him but it's so difficult to get through to him and he refuses practical help. He's addressing some issues via CBT but I'd be really grateful for any tips or advice in how I can deal with this better, thank you.

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  • HI Toni

    I feel for you both. Its horrible both being a sufferer and also a supporter or partner.

    My parner finds it difficult because I find it so hard to confide in him. But I think that is because he tries to talk to me rationally and when I am in the dreaded anxiety state rationality just goes out through the window. The rest of the time I am just a normal person but its like a switch is thrown in your head and yuo literally cant think properly. My boyfriend trying to talk rationally makes me angry because it feels like he just doesnt get where I am. For me I find it easier if he just lets me get on with it, injects humour into the situation which changes the chemistry ever so slightly in the brain and then starts introducing rational thought but in a much more subtle way.

    Perhaps an idea would be for yout to look into CBT yourself and see how you could introduce this in your way of chatting to him. CBT can be used as a reassurance for people but its one where they gradually answer the questions themselves. For example I might say during a panic that I am frightened that I am going to lose control or go mad. Something that terrifies me. If my boyfriend tries to say you wont go mad dont be silly and tries to be rational, I cant computer that. And that also makes me quite annoyed because he does not know that I am not going to go mad. Unfortunately people do lose it. But if he said to me why do you think you are going to go mad or what evidence do you have that you will and then its up to my brain to question my own logic.

    I am not sure if this will help you in anyway but if it does or if you want any further help, suggestions or just someone to talk to please get in touch. I think its brilliant that you are using this site to try and help your partner. it shows how very caring you must be. All the very best to you and your partner.

  • Thanks Pingu for your reply, I really appreciate you taking the time to share your experiences and it helps me see the situation from his side. When things are bad I feel myself moving into a therapist/social worker/parent role which I don't think is healthy for a functional relationship, but maybe he will share some of his learnings with me after his CBT course and we can agree the best way for us to deal with this together, without me feeling like I'm an emotional crutch.

    I have tried asking him what evidence he has for saying some of the things he says, rather than giving advice or using logic, but because I coach individuals he can sense me 'changing roles' and gets defensive. I think I'd rather he told me how he'd like me to deal with him so he feels more in control.

    Usually he says he just needs a hug and reassurance, but anxiety sufferers need to understand how wearing that can be at times for their partner when the conversations continually go over old ground. I agree with you about using humour, and do try that when I'm not worn down with it all, it can help break the cycle of thought. If we didn't share the same sense of humour things would be very, very difficult.

    Best of luck to you and your boyfriend too, I'm pleased he's found a way of helping you deal with it. I wish more people understood the private struggle anxiety sufferers face.

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