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How Physical Anxiety Symptoms Manifest Differently in Me and My Husband


He clutches his chest, rubs his jaw and massages his neck. These are all signs that my husband is experiencing anxiety. He is not one to verbally express himself. While I have been in therapy since our son passed away, he has resisted. Only now does he see a therapist. He does get weekly massages as a way to manage the physical symptoms in his body.

Prior to losing our son, I had experienced anxiety symptoms that mainly resided in my stomach. The feeling of butterflies taking flight was my cue that anxiety was building in me. After losing our son, it shocked me to see just how physical anxiety can be. In fact, when my husband first began experiencing symptoms it felt as though the floor was moving below him.

Over the past four years I have learned what his anxiety looks like to me. Occasionally he will tell me that he is feeling anxious, but more often than not, his physical appearance is my clue. He has learned, and does employ, some calming strategies such as deep breathing and massage. As a wife watching him struggle, I often feel helpless. The ways I relieve my own anxiety aren’t as helpful to him. I am quick to let him know that I am here for him. Sometimes we deep breathe together. Oftentimes a hug helps to improve how he is feeling. The most important thing I do is tell him that no matter what life throws our way, we will get through it together.

Unsplash photo via James Hose Jr.