Need Help with Extreme Anxiety

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Middle of the night I wake up in a panic and need to check on my husband because I am sure that he died in his sleep. I feel his chest and cannot feel him breathing or a heart beat, I usually shake him or grab him freaking out which wakes him up. Some nights I wake up sobbing other nights my husband has to wake me up because I am crying in my sleep. I have done this with all of my children when they were little and my husband for years now but it was only once in a great while. Now it is much more extreme, at least once a week. I was the day time caretaker of my grandmother who passed away in January and I think that could be the cause of the increase in this anxiety. I need to know what this is and how I can make it stop. Please give me some direction .

A: I’m so sorry this has gone on so long without treatment. What you are describing is an anxiety disorder. Everyone who loves someone has some fears that something will happen to them. But in your case, those fears are in over-drive. I agree that the death of your grandmother probably exacerbated what was already a serious problem. Her death made your fears even more real for you.

I think you should consider seeing a mental health professional who is experienced with anxiety disorders. It might be helpful to take some anti-anxiety medication for awhile just to bring the anxiety down a notch to make it more possible for you to take advantage of talk therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been found to be the most useful approach for managing this kind of problem. You will learn ways to stop the negative thoughts and to replace them with reassurances on your own.

Please follow through and get the help you need. You – and your husband – deserve to sleep peacefully.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 24 Jul 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). Need Help with Extreme Anxiety. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 15, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/07/24/im-afraid-my-husband-will-die-while-we-sleep/