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Before I begin, I want to start off by saying everyone is different and may not share the same experience. For those who relate to this topic, I'm offering tips and explanations on anxiety/panic attacks.
Of course "anxiety disorder" is a broad term and is the umbrella for terms such as Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, etc. I was diagnosed with Panic Disorder and in my case, panic attacks often occur randomly. Sometimes people that don't have to struggle with anxiety disorders tend to not understand what it's like in the brain of someone that does.
For people that are independent, it can become draining to pick yourself up without the right support system. However, for people that are married or in a relationship it can be possibly draining for your partner too.
So the real question everyone asks is, "How can I help it?" My husband and I have been together for years and I remember having my first panic attack in front of him. Honestly, he was terrified and couldn't think of what to do.
I can't speak for anyone else but for my panic attacks it becomes hard to breathe, thoughts are crashing in my head and I suddenly feel like a fish out of water. Below you'll find tips and suggestions on how to help with anxiety/panic attacks.
- When someone is having an anxiety attack, don't force them to explain what they're thinking or what's got them upset. Personally I can never explain anything because it feels like someone is sitting on my lungs.
- Telling someone to calm down isn't going to make it better. Anxiety is like running water that can't be turned off automatically.
- Offer the person that's having the attack some water. After hyperventilation or gasping for air for so long you lose oxygen. Water restores that oxygen and can even help regulate breathing.
- Try the "grounding method". Do this only if the person having the attack is able to get a few words out at least after doing several inhale/exhale exercises. Have them look around the room and identify a few things they hear and a few things they see. It makes them focus less on the attack and attracts their attention elsewhere. Do this until their breathing regulates and they've calmed down.
- Buy self help books. I have a few, though they don't work for everyone. However book stores like Barnes & Nobles have a great variety for mental health.
- Some people that have attacks don't like to be touched during the attack. (I'm one of those people.) Although your first instinct is to hug someone that is in distress, sometimes that can make it worse. Give that person space and let them come to you.
- Getting a service dog can also be helpful for those who are animal lovers. Yes its true they have dogs that can be trained specifically for anxiety. Though it can be a bit expensive it’s totally worth giving it a shot. If you have your own dog and you would like to train them you can do that as well.
- Go to a psychiatrist. Some people have their insecurities about this. Also some people don’t like medication. For those people that aren’t comfortable taking medication, I would advise being honest about that upfront with the psychiatrist so they could offer you other options for your condition. I was never into taking medication, but I was offered Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. However, I’m not saying that medication isn’t a great option too because it can be. There can be medication that is suitable for treatment for your anxiety disorder.