Millions of Americans suffer from panic attacks each year, according to the National Institutes of Health. Yet, anxiety and panic attacks not only affect the person suffering; rather, panic attacks affect friends, family members, and even coworkers, as well. If someone you care about is prone to anxiety and panic attacks, here is some helpful information and tips for panic attacks. In this article you will learn how panic attacks not only affect the individuals suffering, but how panic attacks affect you as the friend, family member, or associate.
For starters, the best way to support a loved one who suffers from anxiety and panic attacks, even depression, is to be a sounding board. This may sound simple, but the trick is to maintain your own health and well-being; to not neglect your needs as you help care for the needs of others. Giving someone with anxiety permission to express their thoughts, feelings, and concerns enables them to better cope with that anxiety. The objective in serving as a sounding board is to help the individual learn effective coping mechanisms. It is not, however, your job to take on the problem for them. Additionally, by allowing the person to communicate their feelings with you, they should begin to identify triggers and patterns so as to reduce their likeliness of future panic attacks. Through open, honest dialogue, they can learn how to change behaviors and find the proper anxiety treatment. Remember, it is not your job to take on the problem yourself; rather, be a source of strength and support.
That being said, other proven effective ways of helping a loved one dealing with anxiety and panic attacks include:
Set personal boundaries. Sometimes when we love someone, we think that by saying “no: we are not being a good friend, spouse, caregiver, or even a good person. This is not true. By knowing our own personal limitations, we can actually serve our loved ones better. In being open and honest, and knowing our own limitations, the seeds of effective communication are bred. And, good communication is essential in any relationship. If a friend or spouse who knows that they can be honest with you, and get an honest response in return, will not only appreciate and trust you more, but will communicate with you more, as well. Moreover, by setting personal boundaries, you will avoid any potential resentment of the other person’s problems and struggles. You will also avoid emotional exhaustion. In other words, setting personal boundaries helps you maintain a level of self-preservation which is good for both you, and your loved one.
Educate yourself. It is important to educate yourself about panic attacks-what triggers them, the signs and symptoms, and effective anxiety treatments. Occasionally, at the peak of frustration, we forget that anxiety attacks/panic disorder is a real condition that requires treatment. It is not as if the individual is choosing to have a panic attack. When we understand more about what a person is feeling and thinking when experiencing panic attacks, we are better equipped to support them as well as maintain our self-preservation.
Encourage, reassure, and support. Depending on the level of anxiety your loved one experiences, it may be helpful to not only encourage them to seek the advice of a mental health professional but also seek personal support. As you research panic attacks and encourage your loved one to explore anxiety treatments, you may seriously consider seeking support to help you cope with the secondary effects.
In sum, so as to help another person we must also help ourselves. By becoming informed about panic attacks, anxiety treatments, you will not only better support your loved one but you will be better equipped to cope with the secondary effects. It is never easy watch a loved one face the potentially debilitating effects of panic attacks, as such it is important to be aware of how their condition may affect you so that you can help them, help yourself, and nurture your relationship together. Remember, the only thing to fear is fear itself. When we understand that anxiety attacks are a real, but very treatable condition, we are better able to empower others in the healing process. Panic attacks do not have to control your life. We each have the power to conquer our fears.