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Anxious Husband

(49 Posts)
TBsNana Sat 21-Nov-20 23:42:46

My DH has a tendency to be anxious about health issues. In relation to the pandemic this means he constantly hints that he thinks he has COVID ( though heavens knows how as he goes nowhere). I try to reassure him, but also make the point that he needs to have a test to resolve one way or another - to give him peace of mind or to make sure we are doing the responsible thing. At this point he backtracks and refuses!
I honestly don't think he's got the virus ( this is happening several times a week, and has been going on for months) and I recognise that he must be feeling very anxious but I just don't know what to do with him! Help!!

OceanMama Sun 22-Nov-20 00:38:37

After years dealing with an anxious husband, I have come to the point where all I can do is present him with the options, then it's up to him. Otherwise all that happens is he is just as anxious, you end up carrying his anxiety, and he can use your efforts to carry it as a crutch. I'd just say, "It's up to you. I'm happy to go with you to get a test or you can sit home and worry." Then let it go. It might sound harsh but, in the end, I wish I had taken this approach earlier. We can't actually fix it for them as much as we might want to try. They have to decide on the action part of it all. We can just listen and support.

BlueBelle Sun 22-Nov-20 07:00:02

That’s very good advice from oceanmama and exactly what you should do you can’t get drawn into it It must be very waring for you Give him the options then move away from it
I think you do have to be a bit hard and not get pulled in as your empathy will only prolong it and encourage it
Good luck

Calendargirl Sun 22-Nov-20 07:30:26

Good advice, but if he has a test which proves negative, what’s to stop him starting with the same worry in a few days time?

Carenza123 Sun 22-Nov-20 07:51:36

Hi, my husband is prone to panic attacks. He has seen the doctor about them, had counselling, learnt strategies for coping - all to no avail. He constantly wants me by his side and it is very difficult to be sympathetic. I can cope with physical disability but mental issues are beyond me. Anyway, with regard to being anxious about covid - why not buy a hand held thermometer which he can instantly check his temperature on his forehead? This would allay his fears and something he could check himself.

sodapop Sun 22-Nov-20 08:39:34

Unfortunately if your husband has health anxiety it won't matter what you do or say TbsNana he will continue to worry. He needs to address the anxiety and find ways of dealing with it. You need to tell him how much his anxiety is impacting on you and help him find some treatment either from your Dr, mental health team, counsellor etc.
This problem is quite prevalent at the moment for obvious reasons.

Franbern Sun 22-Nov-20 09:16:33

I do think that this year has increased - with many of us - an increased hypochondria. If someone is already anxious about their health, then this year must have increased their anxiety tremendously.
So, yes --a thermometer and an oximeter may help them, as long as you insist they only use these no more than twice a day. And, the tests for Covid are there - not the most pleasant test, so perhaps if they have one, they may not be so enthusiastic about further ones, unless necessary.
Do also ensure that in their anxiety about this one particular virus, no other condition is being overlooked.

275men Sun 22-Nov-20 09:41:48

Ask his GP to give him some beta-blockers. His quality of life will improve tenfold and so will yours xx

polnan Sun 22-Nov-20 09:46:46

I agree with all that is said.

praying for you both TBsNana

25Avalon Sun 22-Nov-20 09:47:40

Have you got a contactless thermometer? He could use this at home to show he hasn’t got a high temperature and therefore not Covid. Could help maybe?

BlueBelle Sun 22-Nov-20 09:50:22

275men what a daft comment Beta Blockers aren’t sweets

Jac53 Sun 22-Nov-20 09:52:47

My husband is 80 and just been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. For many years he has suffered with mental health issues, loosely described as 'anxiety'. It is a real thing and so is hypochondriasis which is sometimes related to it. Maybe get him to talk to GP?

Redhead56 Sun 22-Nov-20 09:56:24

It’s a man (I am not being sexist) thing our cousin rang an ambulance last week because he felt unwell. I could not believe in such difficult times he would ring an ambulance wasting resources over stretched. It turned out he had a mild water infection and given antibiotics.
My OH is worried he is will get COVID and so are my two friends husbands who incidentally do nothing and go nowhere. Apart from ring the surgery about every other day with a worry. There seems to be a common thread retired old men seeking attention.

MollyG Sun 22-Nov-20 10:09:52

If it’s Covid specific anxiety then as said above, get him a thermometer so that he can put his mind at ease, And also remind him that a loss of taste or smell is often the first sign so maybe a small bottle of his favorite essential oil for him to sniff may be helpful and is something he can do discreetly. Anxiety is a very serious issue and I guess it’s harder for men to talk about it but there is help available, including medication. I think he needs a frank discussion with his gp so that some of the strain of dealing with it is taken off you. Best of luck x

Harris27 Sun 22-Nov-20 10:10:02

I’m reading this and my husband never says a word about it. Perhaps it’s because I have quite bad asthma @nd doesn’t want me to worry. I’m still working with children so hopefully he thinks I’ll be ok. But an anxious man would be hard for me to deal with.

Phloembundle Sun 22-Nov-20 10:11:02

Jac53 I noticed over the years when nursing patients with Parkinsons that the one thing they had in common was anxiety issues. It was when my ex was diagnosed, who had always been an anxious person that I googled it. At that time there didn't seem to be much evidence for correlation, but I had my suspicions. While beta blockers may not be sweets, they have a part to play in treating anxiety.

BlueSapphire Sun 22-Nov-20 10:19:40

TBsNana, that was me earlier on this year, was convinced all the time that I had Covid, and was constantly on the phone to family and friends for reassurance. I did do a test but it was so stressful that I messed it up and in the end did not send it off, and I have not been tempted to repeat the experience.

Unfortunately this all developed into full-blown health anxiety, and I seem to have had the surgery on speed dial! Everyone has been very patient with me, and referred me to hospital for tests to set my mind at rest. My GP also recommended a course of anti-depressants, which seem to help. I can imagine what TBsNana,'s DH is going through, and it is not pleasant. I became too scared to go beyond the end of my road in case I met anyone, but can now happily go for a long walk without wearing a mask, and have conquered my fear of the hairdresser and the optician, and have even been to a couple of garden centres. Still not been in a supermarket, or on a bus, though.

I had a course of CBT, which taught me a few strategies for dealing with my fears, and I can now think rationally and put most of those feelings out of my head. A thermometer is a good idea! Happily I have not felt the need to check my temperature for some time. Although my optician automatically checks your temperature on entering the shop - last week it was 35.2!

You just have to be patient, as the fears are very very real, and just try to explain why he cannot possibly have the virus until it eventually sinks in, as it did with me in the end.

Jaxjacky Sun 22-Nov-20 10:30:34

275men I take beta blockers for health anxiety, as prescribed, health anxiety it itself is debilitating and real to the person. TBsNana he needs a chat with his GP, hopefully he will get some help.

red1 Sun 22-Nov-20 10:45:55

dealing with mental health is as slippery as a bar of wet soap!
The person is suffering and its so difficult to say and do the right thing. it takes a real toll on both parties.Ive dealt with family members over the years and even had a touch of it myself, who have struggled with mental illness, i wish i had the magic pill......

TBsNana Sun 22-Nov-20 10:46:19

Thankyou everyone - so much of what you're saying resonates - it's reassuring to know that there are other DH's out there behaving similarly and that I'm not alone in failing to support DH out of this. He is a frequent visitor at the GP's , lots of checks and tests - all fine.
He would never admit to needing help with mental health issues so that's a non starter.
I agree that in itself a negative test result won't stop him feeling like this - I think my logic is really to try to stop the "crying wolf" bit of this, by showing him he's OK! Ho hum - but thankyou again ladies

GoldenAge Sun 22-Nov-20 10:54:24

TBsNana - as a psychotherapist and counsellor I can confirm that in the last eight months the numbers of people presenting with existential anxiety have absolutely exploded and this is a natural reaction with the very real threat to life. However, one person's anxiety is another person's misery, and natural or otherwise, your husband's anxiety should be dealt with. The accepted way of doing this is to use a CBT approach and drive the anxiety down to the root fear using a series of questions, and then tackling that. At the same time you need to explain calmly to your husband that his behaviour is having an impact upon your well-being and you need to be forceful about that. He should see his GP, who will help to normalise his feelings, and ask for some counselling through the IAPT route (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies), and possibly some beta blockers. People with anxiety think they are being logical so you can use this as part of a logical approach to feeling safe (mentally). If he refuses and continues to drive you crazy tell him that you will need counselling yourself because of his irrational behaviour and that you will bring a counsellor in private practice into your home to help you - you can do that as the person would be providing a mental health service for you - and of course whilst this may just be a threat, it will soon spur him into some sort of action.

poshpaws Sun 22-Nov-20 11:08:30

@BlueBelle no, Beta Blockers aren't sweets, but for this man's type of chronic anxiety they can be very effective. So @275men comment was perfectly valid. It would then be up to the GP to decide.

EllanVannin Sun 22-Nov-20 11:09:31

BlueBelle, beta-blockers do work. I suffer from A/Fib, which is more anxiety-related than an actual heart problem and since this medication was increased 11 months ago ( touch wood ) I've rarely had an episode this year as opposed to other years.
I take 5mgs of Bisoprolol a day.

Lizbethann55 Sun 22-Nov-20 11:19:19

I am another one who takes anti anxiety tablets. Propranolol in my case. Some weeks I don't need them at all. Other weeks I need the full daily dose. After a particularly bad Health Anxiety attack earlier this year, my GP put me on a low dose Citalopram. The difference they have made to my HA, and consequently my whole attitude to life is enormous.

NemosMum Sun 22-Nov-20 11:25:14

As others have said, health anxiety is not amenable to rational discussion! You have my sympathy TBsNana. However much you discuss it with your husband, it will not help him, it will just intensify his feelings of not being understood. The accepted advice is NOT to discuss it. When he says he thinks he has COVID, simply tell him to get a test and don't discuss it any further. It is a mental health problem, and the best therapy is CBT, possibly with the support of a Beta blocker to get him over the worst. However, CBT is in short supply at the moment. What you could do is ring his GP and tell her/him about the problem, so it is in his notes for whenever he decides to contact them. Of course, the GP cannot divulge anything confidential about your husband to you, but a lot of people don't realise that most GPs are happy to have this kind of information, which they will take into consideration when the patient consults them. This is particularly important with mental health problems. Good luck!