One of the key steps to take when you want to help your spouse or another family member with depression and panic attacks is to commit to the idea that you can help. At that point, it would be wise to learn as much as you can about depression and about panic attacks. In addition, you should found out just how these two maladies can be connected.
After deciding that you will be involved as part of the solution, assist your spouse in getting the right kind of medical help. Discuss this with your spouse and be proactive in seeking assistance. Depression is a medical condition that will ultimately affect not only the individual but also family members and friends. But always remember that the person who suffers from clinical depression is the one to focus on.
Teach yourself to look for symptoms of true depression. These include: general lack of interest in everyday work, socializing and so on; stating that there is no hope; sleep problems; inability to make decisions, minor or major; stating that they feel like they are worthless. There are others that a medical professional can help you recognize.
Panic attacks are usually indicated by expressions of fear and that “I am losing control.” It’s often difficult to focus and the person suffering from a panic attack may tremble, feel dizzy and even feel that they may be dying.
A combination of these two serious medical conditions can be even more frightening. This is when a concerned, sincere family member can help the person get started on the road to treatment by being available to talk, answer questions, make suggestions for health care and assure the affected person that these are conditions that can be treated.
According to medical reports and research data, depression often occurs in conjunction with panic attacks. In some studies a majority of people experiencing one condition also experienced the other. This connection has a basis in the chemical structure of the brain and in the way chemical changes affect the body. The presence of an incapacitating fear in panic attacks may be reason enough for the person to feel helpless and depressed.
Above all, listen carefully if your spouse wants to talk, but don’t force conversation. Your responses should be generally positive. You should reinforce their worth and assure them that they are wanted and needed. Doing the simple things with a spouse is generally a good idea.
Remind them about medications, encourage them to avoid stressful situations at the same time they maintain their normal activities as much as possible. Help with daily tasks but don’t take over the person’s life for them. Many of the same basic things that help with depression also help with panic attacks and anxiety.
One of the most important contributions a spouse can make is to watch for signs of suicide thoughts or attempts to set up a suicide scenario. Listen for verbal indications about being worthless or about “getting away from it all.” Help your spouse by making it more difficult or impossible to get to a gun, drugs or alcohol. But in doing this avoid a confrontation atmosphere.
Keep reminding yourself that depression and panic attacks can be treated and their effects can be limited.