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Whenever I ask my partner for emotional support he has a panic attack and I end up taking care of him.

Community Member

I have been with my husband for 3 years after meeting in highschool. I am on the autistic spectrum (formerly Asperger's Syndrome) and have ADHD. I am also somewhat depressed. My partner also has his own psychological issues including depression and high levels of anxiety.

I have always been a supportive husband and have never judged my partner for requiring significantly more care than I do, but recently I have been going through a patch of depression. I am currently seeing a therapist for my conditions and for the most part have been able to manage my symptoms without needing any assistance from my partner. But every now and then (mostly recently) I have needed and asked for support from my partner, which he claims to be willing to provide. But as soon as I try to open up he will have a panic attack and I end up taking care of him.

I understand that he has a lot more issues than I do and requires more emotional support, but I feel as if I shouldn't be scared of feeling depressed or anxious out of fear of causing him to have a panic attack. Even attempts to discuss this with him either result in panic attack, no matter how delicately I try to put it.

I truly love this man. But I am sick of feeling as if my problems do not matter or are less significant than his. What should I do?

7 Replies 7

Community Member
Hi there, one thing I know that will ease his anxiety is giving him warmth by the way of hugs when he's comfortable to receive one. Ask him when and what causes the anxiety. Does he have sleeping problems? This has been a trigger for me. More than 1 or two glasses of wine at at night will cause a very restless sleep. Regular exercise is also an amazing way to increase serotonin levels in the brain making one feel happier and able to deal with mental challenges. Relaxation and sunlight is good for everybody. Hope this helps.

I don't want to offend anyone but this is what bothers me. I get that he has issues. But whenever I bring up the fact that I am receiving no support all I hear is how I can care for him better. It's really disturbing that I am seen as the default facilitator of his care instead of his partner.

You haven't offended me.

That's the difficult thing. Partnerships are two people, not just one. I've had hundreds of panic attacks. They suck.

This isn't the same as an intimate partnership but it is a relationship just the same.

My Mum has a severe mental illness and she has extremely, extremely high needs.

But I had a violent sexual assault amongst other things and now have PTSD.

So tell me, who's more important?

Neither of us.

In the long term, his high dependency on you is not sustainable. How on earth you shift his high dependency is not a quick fix but ideally should be addressed. Somehow.

You are important too.

Can other family members/friends help him while you are dealing with your own health issues in the short term?

Hello again,

Your husband does need to seek help too. It isn't fair on you to be relying on you for emotional support and not be able to return it. Ring Beyond Blue to seek advice. That's what they're there for.

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi thisperson, welcome to beyond blue forums.

I get the feeling this is really affecting you, perhaps leading to feelings of bearing the burden of the emotional wellbeing of the relationship. This can lead to what you've described then a cry for help. Your cry for help isn't going unanswered!

Do you know what the root cause of your husband's panic attacks are? in your first post you describe that when you try to talk to him he has a panic attack and you end up looking after him instead of him looking after you.

It seems your husband associates you being unwell with him suffering a loss and then it leads to a panic attack - just from what you have said I get that feeling. Perhaps it's time for a slightly different approach.

Could you have a chat when you are feeling fine and step through with him what happens when you have a chat and he has an attack. Ask him if he knows what thoughts or feelings trigger it and let him know you are concerned about him and love him a lot. This might lead to a discovery of something you both didn't know.

Another option could be to visit a counselor or psychologist together and see if there's a way to bring some mutual care and health back into the relationship.

Do you have any other thoughts as to what else might be going on? Anything you can suggest that could help us work this out together?

Kind regards


Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member


I feel for you. It must be difficult trying to cope with your own issues and also provide support to your partner. Paul's response above has some wise words. I have issues I try to deal with and my partner has issues herself. I try to wait for a time when we are both on a relatively even keel where we are relaxed and reflective of our life together, or when we are out having a walk or drive. That is when I raise the issue gently and explain how I feel, and why I reach out to her, because I trust and respect her. I also explain how it hurts when I feel rejected or not heard. We manage mostly to talk things through and agree on how we respond to each other. This does not always work, but I am finding we are becoming clearer about each other and how we each feel.

Good luck with your struggle. It is not easy and seeking support from an objective third party is often a good solution to help you

Community Member
Hi there all parties in this discussion, I also think it would help to pinpoint the issue that causes your husband to go into panic attack when you want to talk about your health problems. He may need to see a "good" psychologist to find out. I have recently been diagnosed with an extremely high level of anxiety and getting counselling has helped quit a lot. I was prescribed an antidepressant by my GP but am afraid as it can make it even worse. Getting a good regular sleep of 8 hrs without any alcohol at night and anything to aid relaxation including making love which is said to release endorphins that are very good for anxiety. He needs help in order to be there for you when you need help. I really hope things improve for you both. Take care.