NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Your Anxiety or Depression Could Be Having a Negative Effect on Your Relationships

As a psychotherapist in New York City, I often see clients who begin psychotherapy after spouses or partners have spoken to them about how their anxiety or depression are affecting their relationships at home. Often, people don't recognize that they might be experiencing depression or anxiety until someone close to them or someone at work tells them about the impact that it's having with people around them.

Anxiety and Depression Could Be Having a Negative Effect on Your  Relationships

The following vignette is a composite of a psychotherapy client who began psychotherapy after his wife spoke to him about his anxiety and depression and how it was affecting his relationshp with her and their children. All identifying information has been changed to protect confidentiality:

Jack was a man in his late 50s. He and his wife were married for over 20 years and they had two teenage children.

When Jack first came to see me in my psychotherapy private practice, he talked about how his wife had a difficult talk with him a few weeks before, telling him how his depressed and anxious mood affected their relationship as well as his relationship with their children.

After their talk, Jack realized that he was having many of the typical symptoms of depression and anxiety that he had heard about on TV commercials about antidepressants and that he had read about: insomnia, irritability, a feeling of foreboding that something bad was going to happen to him, decreased appetite, feeling like he wanted to isolate himself, and feeling sad and anxious most of the time. He had been feeling this way for months, but he hated to go to the doctor and he thought it would eventually pass.

Anxiety and Depression Could Be Having a Negative Effect on Your Relationships: Jack and His Wife Had a Talk

After his wife spoke to him and told him that she was finding it difficult to be around him and his children were trying to avoid him when he came home from work, in hindsight, he recognized that his depressed and anxious mood was getting worse.

He realized that, in many ways, he had been in denial about his anxiety and depression. He also realized that his mood was affecting his relationships with his colleagues and subordinates at work. Since he did not want to alienate his family or his colleagues any further, he went to his primary care doctor.

Jack was almost hoping that his doctor would find a medical reason for his depressed and anxious mood. He also hoped that, even if his doctor couldn't attribute his mood to anything medically wrong with him, at least, maybe the doctor could give him a pill to help him feel better.

But, to Jack's surprise, his doctor ruled out any medical cause for his mood and counseled Jack that medication alone is not as effective for anxiety and depression as psychotherapy with medication or even psychotherapy alone. He provided Jack with psychoeducational material about depression and anxiety, advised him to try psychotherapy first before he tried medication, and gave him my telephone number to set up an appointment for psychotherapy.

Jack procrastinated calling my office for a couple of weeks, going back and forth in his mind whether he felt that he really "needed" psychotherapy. He called his doctor again and his doctor urged him not to wait--to call my office and begin psychotherapy. Jack had been going to his doctor for a long time, and he trusted doctor so, even though he had some misgivings about psychotherapy, he decided to follow his advice.

When Jack came for his initial psychotherapy consultation, I asked him if he had ever felt this way before. Jack thought about it and realized that he had felt depressed and anxious off and on since he was a child. He had never thought about it before, but my question made him realize that he had at least five or six prior episodes of depression and anxiety in the past.

Over time, we worked on helping Jack to overcome his depressed and anxious mood. Once he began to manage his current stress and work on the underlying issues that precipitated his depression and anxiety, Jack's relationships with his wife, children and colleagues improved. He felt better than he had in a long time.

The Impact of Anxiety and Depression on Your Relationships:  Jack's Relationship With His Wife Improved After He Began Therapy

This upward spiral, in turn, became an incentive to continue in psychotherapy and he became more internally motivated to make other improvements in his life.

Denial Can Be a Powerful Factor in People Avoiding Dealing with Depression and Anxiety:
Denial can be a powerful factor in people with depressed and anxious mood from seeking help. People often will deny to themselves that they are feeling what they are feeling.

Even if they admit to themselves that they don't feel like themselves, they also might tell themselves that their depressed and anxious feelings will go away or they attribute their mood to outside factors (e.g., the weather, their boss, their age, etc).

But it's usually harder to ignore that there's something wrong and that you need to do something about it when people close to you tell you that your mood is not just affecting you--it's having a negative affect on them as well.

Depression and Anxiety Often Go Together:
Depression and anxiety often go hand in hand. Sometimes, people start by feeling anxious and their anxiety triggers depression, and sometimes it's the other way around. Often, depression and anxiety don't go away by themselves without professional help.

Getting Help in Therapy
If you've been experiencing depression or anxiety for more than a few weeks, don't suffer alone. 

You owe it to yourself and your family to seek professional help with a licensed mental health professional.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist.  I work with individual adults and couples

I have helped many clients to overcome depression and anxiety.

To find more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.