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How to Help with Anxiety-The Dreaded Panic Attack

I am sure that this is not going to be my last post with this same title. Over the years that we have been dealing with Anxiety we have realized that HC has different types of ANXIETY. This makes it hard to pick my top ways to help because she deals with different types of anxiety in different ways. This post will be discussing the anxiety of what I will call The Dreaded Panic Attack.

The Waiting Game

Any time we are having to wait for something to happen there is some level of anxiety. But there are times when this is more than her regular anxiety. It can be a waiting room in a doctor’s office. It can be waiting in a line in the grocery store. It can even be waiting for a return text message. There is no warning most times and there does not appear to be any particular trigger that we can identify.

I can always tell when it starts to hit her. She starts getting very antsy and fidgety and often times her cheeks get red and her breathing changes. She is about to head into a full-blown panic attack.

The Chest Pain

The best way to describe how she is feeling is pretty much like having all the symptoms of a classic heart attack. The first few times we thought she was going to need the emergency room. I had a friend a few years back that also had panic attacks and although they were a little different from HCs I recognized the symptoms.

The hard part as a caregiver/supporter is convincing someone who is having a panic attack that are not going to die. She feels as if she has an elephant sitting on her chest and she can’t breathe.

The Distraction

For someone who has never had a panic attack (like myself) it has been a hard road to try to figure out the how’s and the why’s of exactly what happens during an anxiety or panic attack. The easiest answer for me as a non-professional is everybody is different and no one really knows.

I used to think that if I just distracted her from whatever it was she was dealing with it would just subside. I am kinda a relatively funny person by nature. I like to laugh and make others laugh. Whenever my kids were sad or had a situation that in my opinion was not worth wasting time crying over I would try to make them laugh. Usually that works.

THIS IS NOT THE TIME FOR HUMOR.

I had to learn the hard way. The more I would try to distract the worse she would get and the more frustrated I would get because I AM MOM… I fix things. It took many long conversations afterwards and many therapy sessions to realize that in this particular situation we DO NOT DISTRACT!

We have learned over time to just deal with the moment. Embrace the panic attack. As hard as it sounds it has had the best outcome we could hope for when the panic attacks happen.

The Breathing

The breathing is a huge component of HCs panic attacks.  She often would go into a full-blown hyperventalating episode that can scare the crap out of her and whoever happens to be around her at the time.  In the early days when she would feel an attack coming on she would go off and hide.  If she was at work she would go into the restroom and lock the door.  If she was home she has been found sitting in a corner on the floor.  I have found her in some really awful states.

Embrace the panic attack.  Such an odd statement.  But we have found this to be so true in her situation.  One must keep in mind that I am not a professional therapist and I am only  passing on what we have found to work in our home.  Please seek help if you find you or your loved one has issues that go beyond a place you feel comfortable.

Breathing exercises are a part of our world when times are good so that when the bad times come we are ready to go into action.  It is kinda like those fire drills you had in school when you were a kid.  Always be prepared.

Another Option to Consider

I always like to give everyone who reads these articles about how to care for someone who deals with anxiety some ideas that we have found helpful.  Tons of trial and error and research later I found this PANIC AWAY PROGRAM.  As always if you were to find this information helpful and would make a purchase I would receive a small commission.  This program has amazing reviews for helping those with panic attacks.  

 

The Panic Away Program has touched over 150,000 lives in 32 countries worldwide. Everyone has used it, from soccer moms to famous celebrities.  Barry McDonagh created this program and you can check it out HERE.

Barry McDonagh says “My goal is now to help you live a more fulfilled life ‘beyond anxiety’”.   

I like his approach to dealing with panic attacks because he is not a doctor or therapist but has dealt with stress and anxiety himself and figured out a way to cope that work really well for not only him but for thousands of others.

 

Final Thoughts

I have dealt with being a caregiver for many many years but even with all this experience I realize that anxiety and depression is not a ONE SIZE FITS ALL.

There are days when we find a fix for a particular area of her life that works so well and two weeks later we fall on our face again.  We pick up the pieces and we start to rebuild and don’t look back.  PANIC ATTACKS are one of those things that just when we think we have them figured out they throw us a curve.  With that being said I will always share what has worked for us in the past but don’t be too surprised if down the road you find that I am changing my story a bit.

Mental health issues can be very frustrating both for the caregiver and the patient.  One needs to stay on top of things and have an open communication. One thing I do know is that if you work on your breathing and embrace the panic attack and download the PANIC AWAY PROGRAM you will be so far ahead of where you were yesterday in dealing with these dreaded panic attacks.

Keep fighting the good fight

Tammy

Tammy C

22 Comments

  1. Wow! so much information you have up here and I must say that you have shared a lot of information that I know not only me would find very informative but quite a lot of people will. Just like you, i have never experienced a panic attack before but I have heard that it is totally not a sight one would find delight in seeing. But going by what I read here, you have shared the basics on not relying on only one approach to solve it all. Just try it all to fix it all.

    • Rodarrick, 

      Welcome back and thank you for your comments.  Just taking one day at a time.

  2. I really don’t have any experience with panic attacks but I am always open to learning about new things. Panic and anxiety are things that I am not familiar with but I have heard of people who deal with it on a daily basis, such as yourself. I commend you for all your efforts and successes on handling every unique situation that you go through. I am sure HC appreciates you being there for every anxiety attack experienced. I have been a caregiver for my elderly parents and I know that it takes a whole lot of energy taking care of someone’s physical and emotional needs. Just know that you are doing just fine. Thank you for being such a caring person.

    • Hi Geri,

      Thank you for your kind comments.  Sounds like you have a full plate being a caregiver as well and I appreciate your support.  

  3. Hello Tammy, this is beautifully done. I totally agree with what you have written here. I must say that it is really great to see that you have shared this. I have a little sister who many times gets the panic attack and i get really scared because i feel i might lose her. Sometimes i just freeze because of the way she breathes very hard. Nice to see you share ways to help. Thank you

    • Thanks for your kind comments Henderson.  Sorry your sister is dealing with these panic attacks.  They can be very scary but hopefully she can find the best way for her to cope.  I am not sure how old your little sister is but if you go to the PANIC AWAY site there is an entire section devoted to kids with anxiety called Kids Anxiety Blog.  

  4. Hi Tammy,

    That’s a nice post on helping with bouts of anxiety.

    Personally, I’ve had many instances of anxiety as this is an almost day to day occurrence to humans. I can especially point out that waiting is never easy, especially if what is being waited for is not pleasant.

    Sometimes anxiety goes overboard and panic sets in. and this is not good at all for anyone- especially if the fear is about death. Even a care provider gets a hard time trying to help. I’ve seen this happen with a close relative who from time to time depended on machine supplied oxygen.

    The Panic Away Program- could a non-English speaker get it customized for them?

    • Thank you for your comments.  I reached out to the Panic Away people and sorry to say they only have the English version of this program right now.   

  5. Mental health is a very sensitive subject and although many people suffer from mental disorders very few are asking for help that can really improve their way of life. Panic attacks is something that has become very usual and it’s good to see articles like these as it can help people that don’t want to go see a specialist. Thank you for all the information you provide and for sure will help people in need.

    • I totally agree Stratos and thank you for your comments.  There is such a stigma around mental health issues and we are trying to break away from that mold.

  6. The careful attention a caregiver must have concerning the triggers a person has that anticipate a panic attack can help some of them to be avoided. But in most cases, as you have stated, they come without anticipation. So, the suggestion, creating distractions should be the next card to play. A caregiver must get involved as much as possible to do a good job in this respect.

    • Hello Ann,

      Thank you for your comments. I agree that avoiding triggers is very helpful in many situations.  We do have a list of places that have a higher rate of causing these panic attacks and we are careful to try to mentally prepare in advance for those. 

  7. Anxiety is a real important subject and I think I’m one of the people that really gets affected by it. The thing that gets me anxious is relationship problems, I have such a weak heart sometimes I feel it rotting within me, i feel it get dark and I FEEL that I’m being eaten up alive. I have often tried to distract myself from it and yet still it keeps coming back. I often have to go to sleep but even that will be real hard. I guess we will just have to embrace this thing, that feeling of waiting for a return message from a lover… Thank you for bringing this up I really think I may need to see a therapist but I’ve often realised that I can start writing how I feel and some times it really helps, I call it pouring myself on paper. 

    • Hi Donny,

      Thank you for your comments.  My daughter also finds that putting things on paper is a good way of expressing how she feels.  Keep in mind that there are still times when seeking a professional is a good idea.  Especially someone like a talk therapist or counselor.  Keep fighting.

  8. Hey Tammy,

    Great article subject!

    More and more people seem to suffer with anxiety, my youngest brother included. So tips on how to help with anxiety are always welcome!

    I must admit, I wasn’t aware that having to wait for things could a trigger for experiencing anxiety. This will help me to mitigate some of the risk of my brother experiencing anxiety/ panic attacks. Thanks for sharing and any tips on ways to manage anxiety attacks?

    • Thanks for your comments Nate.  Hope your younger brother can find some help with this program Panic Away.  They have suggestions for all ages.  Getting the breathing under control is helpful but it takes practice.  Nice job being pro-active with your brother.  

  9. Hey,  Thank you for being so transparent. In my opinion, anxiety, panic and depression are all in a class of their own.  I commend your patience, understanding and willingness to try this and later have to change it to trying something different.  How old is HC and what relationship does she have with you?

    My heart goes out to you.  I personally have a wee bit of depression and anxiety which is ever so easily managed by open communication and breathing.  After reading your informative post it is clear there are many levels of these symptoms.  Thankfully mine are very minor.

    Once again, I appreciate your transparency which enables others to become fully informed on the real deal and how to manage it.  I take my hat off to you and HC for hanging in.  Cheers Jill

    • Hello Jill,

      I am mom and HC is my 26 year old daughter who suffers from anxiety and depression and PTSD as well as a few other things they can’t quite settle on yet.  

      Like you I was aware of the occasional anxiety that one could overcome easily but then we entered into this very scary world of the dreaded panic attacks that can take you right down.  It has been a learning process and I hope that someone out there can pick up some tips from what we have learned over the years.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read my article and for your awesome comments.

  10. I have also had similar experiences when it comes to trying to create distractions. Yes being a parent and trying to fix things with a quick joke, most of the time renders good response with our children. But when it comes to being a caregiver it’s not effective. I can even say it worsens the situation.

    • Hi Henry,

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience with me.  It really helps to know that I am not the only one who has thought I had the answer and it gets tossed right back.  One day at a time and I am always learning.

  11. Wow, this is really very nice. I didn’t know that the panic attack was a higher stage of anxiety. In fact, i thought that it was something relating to bad health or a certain sickness due to the breathing. I have been very well educated on this topic today and i know what to do to help people who are in this situation. Thank you for the eyeopener.

    • Hello John,

      Thank you so much for your comments.  I love to hear when others read something and it helps them understand better.  Mental health issues can manifest in so many different ways.

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