7 Things People with Panic Disorder Want You to Know

Understanding Panic and Anxiety

Francesco Carta fotogrago/Moment/Getty

Panic disorder sufferers often feel misunderstood from others who just simply don’t seem to understand what it is like to live with anxiety and panic attacks. Unfortunately, many myths about panic disorder still prevail throughout the general population. Such misconceptions can greatly impact a person with panic disorder, including one’s relationships, self-esteem, and ability to cope with symptoms.

More than anything, people with panic disorder simply want to be understood. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their disorder. Panic disorder sufferers are often the first to talk about it, letting trusted loved ones what it’s like to live with this condition.

Listed here are the 7 things that people with panic disorder want you to know.

1. I can’t just “control” it.

Panic attacks and anxiety, the main symptoms of panic disorder, are not just feelings that a person can simply “snap out of.” Sure, symptoms can be better managed through treatment, but what panic strikes, it is typically out the person’s control.

Be patient the next time your loved one is gong through a panic attack or highly anxious time. Try to keep in mind that if she could immediately stop her symptoms in their tracks, she most certainly would. Knowing that she has your trust and understanding will help her get through her panic disorder symptoms as they come.

2. I’m not seeking attention.

Sometimes outsiders may think that panic attacks or anxiousness are cries for attention, however, this is typically the furthest thought for the panic sufferer’s mind. Often times, the person going through the panic attack feels embarrassed by his symptoms, trying to hide from others to prevent any sense of humiliation.

It may be inconvenient and you may even feel a little annoyed by her symptoms, but try to remember that it is beyond her control. 

3. Panic disorder symptoms can vary.

Panic attacks often occur through a combination of emotional, physical, and cognitive symptoms. Attacks usually begin with an overwhelming sense of dread and increasing anxiety. Such feelings typically inflate into fear and apprehension as the unpleasant somatic symptoms set in. A person may feel frightened while experiencing chest pain, accelerated heart rate, shortness of breath, excessive sweating, nausea, chills or hot flushes, and shaking or trembling.

Although these are the most common symptoms of panic attacks, one only needs to experience 4 of these symptoms together for the episode to be considered a panic attack. Symptoms can also vary from person-to-person, as one panic sufferer may have a tremendous amount of physical symptoms, while another deals more with fearful thoughts, while yet another has more of an out-of-body experience when panic sets in.

The next time your loved one has a panic attack, remember that they will not always seem the same, but can still have a long-lasting impact.

4. Panic attacks can make me think that I’m dying or going insane.

Even though symptoms are not life threatening or make a person go insane, however, panic attacks should always be taken seriously. Panic attacks can be very disturbing. The person can experience depersonalization and derealization in which h begins to feel as though he is losing touch with reality and with himself. It is not uncommon for the person to fear that he is experiencing a medical emergency from the attacks or that the symptoms are going to lead him to "go crazy." If your loved ones ever expresses these fears, try you best to remain patient. Reassure him that he is going to be okay and always take any concerns of safety seriously. 

5. My symptoms can come on suddenly and I may need to leave.

Panic disorder involves recurrent and typically unexpected panic attacks. That means that symptoms take hold seemingly out-of-the-blue, without any particular trigger or warning. This can be especially frightening for the panic sufferer as symptoms can take hold when the person is driving or performing any activity that requires some degree of concentration. It can also be embarrassing, as panic attacks can begin when a person is at a social event.

Your loved one may need to leave an event or situation after a panic attack occurs. Try not to believe that it has anything to do with you and forgive your loved one should he need to go somewhere else to feel safe.  It can even be difficult for the person to return to the place at a later date, so don’t be surprised if your loved one avoids a particular place or certain situation for a while after the panic attack occurred.

6. There is no cure for panic attacks.

You may have heard of “quick fixes” for panic attacks anxiety, but this simply just isn’t the case. There are many treatment options available, including psychotherapy, medications for panic disorder, and self-help strategies. Such treatments may help panic attacks become more manageable, however, there is currently no cure that will wipe out panic disorder symptoms.

Even if your loved one has achieved great progress through one of thee options, it can be difficult to maintain success after treatment has ended. Expect your loved one to have occasional setbacks and flare ups when dealing with panic disorder. Try to remain reassuring as she develops ways to cope with her symptoms.

7. Your support can get me through my toughest days.

The best way to help your loved one on her road towards recovery is to be there for her. Simply listening to her can help her feel more connected to others rather than left to feel all alone in dealing with panic attacks and anxiety. Your support, empathy, and understanding will go a long way in helping her better manage life with panic disorder. 

Continue Reading