Women are more likely to suffer from panic disorder when they are going through menopause and it is important, as her partner, that you know how to help. Panic disorder usually comes in the form of panic attacks, characterized by unexpected moments of intense fear that increase the heart rate and can make it difficult for the sufferer to breathe. Many times, the sufferer believe their symptoms are grave or life-threatening. So, as her partner, how can you prepare for these moments and how can you deal with the episodes once they have arisen? Knowing what to do will make the moment a lot more bearable for both you and your wife.
How to Cope with Your Partners Panic Attacks
Fortunately, dealing with a panic attack is not too complex.
Understand What is Happening
It is important that you familiarize yourself with the causes and symptoms of panic disorder so that you can understand what your partner is experiencing. Help your partner if she experiences a panic attack. Learn what part her hormones play in the attack and why it happens. Doing this will allow you to cope with the attack but will also allow you to appreciate how frightening the attacks can be.
Reassure but Don't Patronize
Your partner may fear that something bad is going to happen or that her health is in danger. Try to be prepared for any reaction. It is important that you reassure her that she is fine and that nothing will happen. Stay calm and speak to her in a firm, yet affectionate manner. Do not patronize your partner by saying things such as “You are overreacting” or “You are making it up”. For her, the fear is very real and ignoring it will make the situation worse.
Sit Her Down and Comfort Her
Minimize her stress and anxiety levels by creating a calm environment. Sit her down and make sure she feels safe. Talk to her and give her a hug. Physical contact, particularly from someone you love, will distract her and make her feel safer. If she needs to hold onto you for a long period of time (because it can sometimes take a while to completely recover) then be prepared to stay with her and support her.
Help Her Breathe
To recover from a panic attack your partner needs to concentrate on her breathing and return to her normal state. You can help her do this by breathing with her and encouraging her to participate in breathing exercises. Tell her to breathe in slowly through her nose, to hold it and then breathe out slowly through the mouth. You could even get her to breathe into a paper bag, but not everyone will feel comfortable doing this. Repeat this deep breathing until she has caught her breath and has calmed down.
Allow Her to Relax
Relaxation is important after an attack. Encourage her to relax by preparing a bath for her or by offering to cook dinner while she lies down.
More Information about Panic Disorder
Panic attacks can happen to anyone at anytime, but menopausal women are more susceptible to them. It is important as her partner that you understand why this is happening. To find out more about panic disorder and the relation it has to hormones, follow this link about dealing with panic disorders.
- Medicinet.com (n.d). "Generalized Anxiety Disorder". Retrieved from MedicineNet.com.
- National Institute of Mental Health.(n.d). "Panic Disorder". Retrieved from www.nimh.nih.gov.
- Pick, Marcelle.(n.d)."Anxiety in Women-Causes, symptoms, and natural relief". Retrieved from www.womentowomen.com.