Q:Things were tough for us on the farm for years. The hardest part was watching my husband. He was stressed out most of the time. The problem is that he is still stressed out even though we are getting a better return from our farming. I thought at first that my husband was so accustomed to stress that he could not be anything else. Now I am not so sure. What do you think?
A:Your husband has perhaps fallen into a habitual response to life and he might feel stressed regardless of the circumstance. For some people, pessimism that can create stress is a bad habit. The other possibility is that your husband is struggling with anxiety more than he is with stress.
Stress is our body’s way of responding to too much pressure in our environments. Farm life is rampant with pressures such as unpredictable weather, fluctuating market prices, bank loans, government policies, machinery breakdown, and transportation woes. It does not take much to cause a financial setback on the farm. Many families have had to learn to deal with stress, but it never completely goes away.
Anxiety is different. This is built on the presumption that all of us are victims on the doomsday calendar.
The anxious person lacks either the strength or the ability to successfully navigate through daily challenges that confront all of us.
The anxious person fears that something will always go wrong.
If your husband is struggling with anxiety, you and he need to do something about it because it can evolve into depression.
Depression not only runs interference with getting things done around the farm, it can distract your husband from what he is doing and make his work life unsafe.
The symptoms for anxiety can include a lack of energy to start projects or procrastination, trembling hands, erratic sleep patterns, excessive worry, panic in the face of even minor disruptions, irritability with those whom he loves the most and/ or a loss of appetite.
If you husband is struggling with anxiety, your physician and his consulting psychiatrist will help him find the appropriate medication and refer him to a mental health clinic for counselling.
The medication should reduce the tensions your husband is feeling while the counselling will help him develop more appropriate strategies for resolving his daily problems.
Jacklin Andrews is a family counsellor from Saskatchewan. Contact: email@example.com.