Seeking professional help is, of course, one of the most important steps in dealing with panic attacks. People can certainly help themselves with such techniques as deep breathing, focused relaxation and visualization. Some of these programs and simple plans require a bit of input from others, such as a family member or close friend.
Along these same lines, one of the crucial ways to work through panic attacks or panic disorder is for a family member to directly help the suffering individual. Unfortunately, a large number of people have no idea what a panic attack really is. They do not know what the symptoms are and do not know what to look for. In these situations, a person experiencing panic attacks may go for a long period of time without making any progress toward improvement.
The first thing that a family member must realize is that panic attacks are not “imaginary” nor are they likely to go away by themselves. Panic attacks are not generally “dangerous” nor will they be life threatening in most cases. But this doesn’t mean we should dismiss a panic attack as “not serious.”
Episodes of extreme anxiety and panic attacks can be very serious in that they may put a severe strain on relationships within the family. The person suffering the attack may feel alone, along with the physical symptoms of trembling, difficulty breathing and dizziness. If this individual has no one to turn to during these times the experience can be even more frightening.
Support from a member of the immediate family is very important to someone who is learning to reduce or even eliminate symptoms of panic attacks. Most advice about panic attacks and panic disorders emphasize that there is no “cure” in the traditional sense. But with effort and the right kind of help, many people can eliminate almost all traces of panic attack from their lives.
If a family member has panic disorder or experiences periodic panic attacks the first step would be to learn as much as you can about the episodes. If you can, help the individual reduce stress in their life. Stressful and uncomfortable situations can trigger anxiety events or panic attacks. It’s also best to help the individual and the family stay in a normal routine, within reason. You can also help by encouraging even the smallest sign of improvement or effort to make a positive change.
One of the key contributions a family member can make is to encourage the suffering individual to seek medical/professional help. If an appointment is scheduled, family members can then make sure the person experiencing panic attacks keeps the appointment and follows the doctor’s guidelines.
It certainly isn’t easy to truly understand what another person is going through, whether panic attacks are involved or not. But your parent, sister, brother, child or spouse will benefit from any sincere effort you make to learn more about panic attacks and panic disorder. They will also benefit from even the smallest effort you make to help them.