Dealing with anxiety & depression in a relationship
I've been going out with my girlfriend for 5 years and Im suffering with severe anxiety and depression, she broke up with me after 3 years saying although she loved me, she needed space and wasnt happy. i was crushed. everyday i woke up thinking about her and before going to sleep the same. after 2 months i found she started to kiss other guys or whatever and went on a 'girls' holiday, we met up a few times and I always hoped she'd want me back. after a while I would go out myself and pick up whatever girl would have me and have sex with strangers but I hated myself for it. then one day she said she was going on a football team trip to las vegas with this guy, her best friend and her boyfriend set them up. again i was crushed and the break up all felt so fresh . we eventually got back together after she contacted me, told each other who and what we done in the year and started again 'happily' where we left off. but every now and then( few times a week) I get seriously bad anxiety attacks, always worrying about situations, im so so jealous of anybody she mentions or talk too and feel worthless. she said she flirts when shes out with the girls and its just harmless but I hate it. I feel she should love me more if that makes sense, i just feel taken for granted, we have discussed this and she knows i suffer from depression, i have been prescribed anti depressants but found them no use. shes adament she loves me and wants to marry and have children with me. were in our mid to late twenties also. i want the same but dont know if ill ever get over this to move on... please help...
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You need to learn to relax, which will help reduce both your depression and the anxiety attacks you experience.
Depression causes people to doubt their own self worth because it lowers self esteem, and it makes positive anticipation of future events more difficult.
A confident person with good self esteem and a positive outlook will accept that their partner is with them because they love and value them for the person they are.
Someone suffering with depression and poor self image might spend time wondering why their partner stays with them, and expect them to go off with someone else anytime soon because they devalue themselves.
Pondering (ruminating) on how bad life will be when your partner leaves you will raise anxiety levels, and then the come-down means sliding down into a depressed state.
If you think about this high and low of energy as a sine wave on a graph, you can imagine how energy peaks during the anxious periods, and then nose-dives on the comedown into a depressive mood.
A panic attack occurs when the body's alarm system has been triggered by internal messages between the brain and the body becoming muddled up, i.e. there is no real threat imminent, but the body's defence system is fired up. The perceived effects of the system being fired up then feeds back in the form of a loop, i.e. as the person becomes breathless and experiences a fast heartbeat they get even more stressed and frightened by the symptoms, and this makes things worse.
Understanding what is happening, and steadying breathing, will often break the emergency cycle of bodily reactions that has set in.
In between times, working at deep relaxation exercises will help to level out the highs and lows of energy, i.e. the sine wave will gradually become flatter - less highs, and less corresponding lows.
Learning to relax at a deep level takes time, and it's not an easy process to master, but it can be done with the assistance of a little faith in the technique, and committed persistence.
One of the things that may put you off early on is that when you begin the practice you will enter into a level of consciousness that exists between being awake, and being asleep, known as a hypnagogic state.
Think of it as going down a level on your computer where automatic processes run behind Windows.
The benefit of accessing this level of consciousness is that you can gain more control over the automatic processes that run between your brain and your body in the background when you are awake, and when you are asleep.
However, when you first enter this state you will become aware of how chaotic things are, i.e. you will be tempted to go off on various trains of thought.
Worry is a habit - if you break down the process of worrying it's often about going over the same problem again, and again, and again.
If a problem is soluble, then it makes sense to revisit the problem and to keep working at finding a solution. Thinking about a problem, and then sleeping on the issue, often provides new insights.
Neural scientists using state-of-the-art brain scanning methods can monitor the human brain during sleep, and there is plenty of evidence to show that quite a lot goes on when we sleep.
Depression causes people to feel tired and to feel fatigued, and yet a common symptom of depression is for people to wake repeatedly through the night.
So even without the benefit of a brain scanner we can be pretty sure that something is going on in the minds of depressed people when asleep that causes a disturbed sleep pattern.
We do know that depressed people ruminate when awake, so the chances are that the process continues when asleep, i.e. the same thoughts will be run over and over again - rather like a loop in a computer program.
One way of tackling rumination is to work at breaking the habit when awake - easier said than done when depressed, but just cutting short recurring thoughts as soon as they are noticed can help. Distraction by thinking about something more positive can help with staying off 'the loop' of rumination.
Although such looping thoughts may be involuntary, they can be consciously cut short, which can help with breaking up the automatic program that runs in the background of awareness.
Another way is to learn to relax at a deep level, as mentioned above, and enter into the hypnagogic state we pass through when falling asleep, and to develop some control by not following up on the automatic thoughts that arise.
It might seem odd to suggest that a lot can be achieved by doing nothing, but that is how it works. However, there is a discipline to be developed, i.e. in letting thoughts pass through the mind without responding to them - it takes time to do nothing, and so calm the traffic of thought that runs through the mind continuously.
It is the development of this discipline that takes time and effort to master.
If you want to know more about using this method, it's explained fully in a book entitled: Mindfulness - ISBN 978-0-7499-5308-9 which is available on Amazon.co.uk, and .com