My boyfriend has extreme anxiety

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

For starters, I should tell you that we have lived together for the past several years. We’ve always gotten along really well, we don’t have arguments and both appreciate the lack of drama in the other.

For the last several months, he has been wrestling with extreme anxiety. It is at its’ worst when he is at home. He says that as he’s driving home, he can just feel the anxiety rising in him. He says he just feels like he’s going to explode but there’s no reason and nothing to explode about. Being at home just drives him crazy, he says. To quote a text he sent just today “Not sure what but something about home drives me up the wall”. By the end of the evening, his hands are shaking and his heart is racing.

Other symptoms? Complete lack of sex drive. He’s totally capable, he just doesn’t want to. I thought perhaps he was seeing someone else or found someone else he desired but he insists that he just doesn’t have any desire at all.

He is also sleeping a great deal more than he used to. He says he likes going to sleep because then the feeling goes away. I’ve also noticed a decrease in his appetite, I think. That’s hard to gauge because he’s been home so little and because he’s never been one to eat regular meals unless I make them.

I expressed the thought that perhaps the anxiety gets worse on his way home because his mind is clearing, because he’s putting the thoughts of what he has to do next for work away. He doesn’t feel this can be the case because when he was recently working out of town for a week, he had much less anxiety in the evenings.
I’m still convinced (or maybe it’s just hopeful) that because when he’s out of town, he’s sort of always on the job and therefore doesn’t ever let down in quite the same way.

He absolutely, completely and totally refuses to see a doctor. He won’t go see a doctor when he’s feeling close to death’s door … there’s no way I can get him in there for this. Believe me, I’ve tried. I’ve suggested couples counseling and he won’t even talk about that.

So here’s my ultimate question … do you think I could be on the right track? Or is it silly to think that he could repress his anxiety during his workday and thus experience it mostly at home?

A: There are several reasons why your boyfriend might be feeling his anxiety and depressive symptoms. I certainly can understand your frustration and his reluctance to go for help. But perhaps there is another way to approach this.

This is a self-help quiz for depression. It will give your boyfriend feedback that is objective and generated by his own input. I think you having him read this letter, and encouraging him to take the quiz, may be a way of opening up the dialogue at a deeper level.

If he is unwilling to go to couples counseling with you I would encourage you to go to individual counseling to begin coping with this situation for yourself. When you partner is becoming more isolative the only way to approach this is to offer your thoughts, feelings and suggestions, and then take care of yourself.

Wishing you patience and peace,

Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2011

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2011). My boyfriend has extreme anxiety. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/04/30/my-boyfriend-has-extreme-anxiety/