Panic attacks and anxiety disorders sometimes sneak into a person’s life and can assault a marriage! They’re not something that anyone welcomes into their lives and believes will happen to them but they DO happen. And they happen to more people than we could probably ever imagine!
What are Panic Attacks?
“Panic attacks are sudden surges of overwhelming fear that that comes without warning and without any obvious reason. It is far more intense than having anxiety or the feeling of being ‘stressed out’ that most people experience. One out of every 75 people worldwide will experience a panic attack at one time in their lives.” (From AnxietyPanic.com)
That’s a LOT of people who experience this debilitating disorder.
Here are a few additional specifics concerning panic attacks that might be helpful to know:
An interesting point about panic attacks:
“A fairly high percentage of attacks (61 percent) come while going to sleep. Quite a few occur during sleep and wake the sufferer. Since these patterns are quite common, let me comment on them. Why would a panic attack occur when you are relaxing or sleeping? It is a well-known fact that most stress symptoms don’t appear when you are at the height of your stressful situation.
“Take tension headaches, for example. They don’t attack while you are intensely preoccupied with some deadline and rushing to finish up a project. Tension headaches strike after the project is over, or more commonly, as you leave the office to go home, drive home, or sit down to unwind. This is how adrenaline works. During the emergency, adrenaline protects us from pain or stress discomfort. Only after adrenaline has done its job does it demand its penalty.” (Dr Archibald Hart, from the book, The Anxiety Cure)
What can you do to prevent panic attacks?
“Good preparation. After a stressful situation, allow yourself plenty of time to ‘unwind,’ and do your unwinding slowly. In other words, avoid a sudden drop in adrenaline. For instance, when you first get home from work, don’t go and crash in front of the television. Take a little walk. Enjoy the slow wind-down. Smell the flowers.
“Attend to ‘unfinished business’ in your thinking. Do a ‘mental wash’ and clean out any unresolved resentment, anger, or disappointments. Let go of stuff that is not really your responsibility. Listen to the birds. Then go home and putter around for a while. Then sit and read.
“Finally, relax completely. Such a slow wind-down pattern can avoid the sudden drop in adrenaline that seems to precipitate the onset of the more serious stress symptoms.” (Dr Archibald Hart, from the book, The Anxiety Cure)
We realize these are very simple points that are made about a very complicated situation, but even so, you may gain something from knowing them..
To read more about these “sudden surges of adrenaline” please click onto the web site links we provide below:
• THE TRUTH ABOUT PANIC ATTACKS
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article.
If you have additional tips you can share to help others, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.
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Filed under: Mental and Physical Health
10 responses to “Dealing With Panic Disorders Within Marriage”
My husband suffers from panic attacks and it has been extremely difficult. At first it was difficult because he did not tell me he was suffering at all. Once we got him help, the results were good. However, it comes and goes and so dealing with it for the long haul has been very trying.
Carolyn, I am in the same boat with my husband right now. Did your husband come to you and say that this was the problem and he needed help or did you have to convince him that he needed help? We have not been married for very long and it’s becoming very very stressful, but I refuse to give up on a him or finding a solution.
I am a New Yorker and I got married almost 2 years ago. I decided to make a big jump and move to the Netherlands. I came from a big city to a small dutch village without knowing the language. I couldn’t find work and I started getting panic attacks and anxiety with over thinking. It’s very stressful and I am in my head most of the time. However today I start cognitive behavioral therapy and I am very hopeful that this will disappear or at least help me with my over thinking.
I’ve heard that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help. I pray you have a good counselor, and that you are able to get past these panic attacks soon. They certainly are horrible. May the Lord guide you and help you, as you reach out for the help you need. :)
Looking for some advise. My husband and I have been married for a year and a half and we have an 8 week old daughter. Lately, my husband has been experiencing panic attacks more frequently than ever before. I’m not sure what exactly triggers the attacks, but I’m guessing it’s due to the fact he is now a father and all of the responsibility that came with that role. In the last 3 weeks he has called 9-1-1 twice thinking he was having a heart attack; both times- no heart attack. I try to be supportive, but wish he would stop calling 911. How do I get him to calm down and realize he isn’t having a heart attack and just breathe through the episode?
I suffer from severe panic disorder, my husband does not. This is something that I have had to live with for the last 18 years of my life. Sometimes I am high functioning, I feel almost normal. Others are really bad. The best thing I can tell someone who is in a relationship with someone who has panic attacks is this… First realize that there is not much control over when an attack happens. They can occur with or without a trigger. This is not the sufferers fault. Please don’t make them feel like it is. What we experience is very real, our heart rate goes up, we hyperventilate, we have chest pain, shortness of breath, numbness, tingling, intense overwhelming fear and so much more. We have a tendency to not be able to rationalize things. We may know we are having an attack but in the overwhelming response is usually fear, mainly because everything we feel is real.
Second, just be reassuring. Don’t say it’s all in our head, don’t tell us we are crazy…Believe me we put ourselves down enough. Try to be understanding. Just let them know your there and while you don’t understand (believe me unless you experience it yourself you can’t) that you will be there. Pray with them, help them to refocus their thoughts. Remind them that they have felt this way before and even though it seems like forever, it goes away. Unfortunately there is no exact timing on how long it will take. Some last only an hour peaking at about the twenty minute mark,and others can last hours. Unfortunately for me I even have rolling attacks which can last days. Seek help, counseling, behavioral/cognitive therapy, medications. While there is no cure, it does help. Many blessings and prayers for you all
How do you determine if your husband has a mental disease or just has views that are cynical no one agrees with? He thinks his are right about the Bible and most ministers. We are both Christians. Rarely does he say things that are not critical or cynical. However, he is not critical of me in any way. He’s 75 now and I am weary.
Judith, It’s difficult for us to know if your husband has a “mental disorder” or if he’s becoming more critical of others as he ages. This happens with some people, especially as they age. This is by no means a diagnosis, but it is not uncommon for people in the beginning stages of dementia to become more critical and/or cynical. I would encourage you to have him see his doctor to have a very simple cognitive test just to evaluate.
Now, if he has had the views you stated about thinking his biblical views are right while others are wrong for most of your married life, then that’s a separate matter. One of the things I’ve noticed about myself over the years (and Cindy will point this out to me at times) is that when I get more critical or cynical it most often goes with the fact that I’m not spending time in the Bible to study God’s truths about how to live according to the scripture – especially in how to treat my wife.
A number of years ago I was introduced to a small devotional book called, “Thoughts From The Diary Of A Desperate Man” by Walt Henrichsen. Just the title grabbed me because I am always desperate to know I am following God, again according to Biblical truth and not my opinion. I’ve had this for more than 15 years and I go through it every year…and I get something new out of it every reading. Walt is DEEP and unconventional and the truths he has shared have penetrated and shaped my heart over and over again. Walt died a few years ago but his devotionals can still be purchased through the ministry he set up at http://www.leadershipfoundation.org.
If I was talking with your husband I would challenge him to get a copy and dig in. There’s a short devotion with scripture for every day of the year. And your husband isn’t too old to do this. I’m 69 and I still want to be challenged in my thinking, my attitudes and my actions. It’s too easy to fall into a rut of bad behavior and thinking it’s “right.” We have to be very careful to run every thought through the filter of scripture and ask God to reveal new truth to us every time.
As for something the two of you could do together that could stimulate your spiritual growth as a couple, Cindy and I highly recommend My Utmost for His Highest: Updated Language Paperback“> It’s a classic but it still resonates with both of us and his thoughts are timeless.
I hope this gives you a couple of options to consider to try and remedy what’s happening right now. Share my thoughts with your husband and tell him if he wants to write to me he can choose any article (it doesn’t have to be the same one you came in on) from the web site and post a comment and tell me he’s Judith’s husband. And then he can pour his heart out. I’m a good listener. Blessings!
Hi Judith, I want to add to Steve’s comments to you. God has put you on my mind quite a bit since I read what you wrote. I just keep thinking how important it is that we speak life into people and be encouragers, rather than discouragers. It’s not that we can’t “speak the truth in love” … absolutely, we’re supposed to do that when it’s appropriate. But from what I pick up from your comment, it seems like a lot of energy is being spent on cynicism and criticism. I’m reminded of the scripture that says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” It comes down to what “fruits” we want to eat and have others eat.
What occurs to me is what you and your husband want to leave as your legacy. Do you want to focus on that, which promotes life and encouragement, or on death and focusing on critical, cynical views? The reason I address you and your husband is because we often can help our spouse’s to redirect the direction of what they are doing… not always, but often. If this were me, I’d probably do a lot of praying about how to do this. How can you challenge him (in a non-threatening, softened way) to look for ways to encourage people, rather than criticize and go after them so much? Is this really what he want to spend his energies upon in these last years of his life? Is that what he wants to be known as–an arguer, rather than an encourager? Wouldn’t it be better to find those he can encourage, rather than spend so much energy and time arguing with people?
I’m not sure I’m wording this right. I just see so many people spending so much time arguing with each other as “right-fighters” (or what they perceive to be “right”) and it seems like such a waste of energy. I think to myself… “pick your battles.” Don’t be so quick to be contentious. Be encouragers, rather than discouragers. There are so many people that need that. Why waste the little bit of time we have on this earth picking each other apart?
I just saw an interview yesterday about this very thing. It’s an interview with the author of the book, Speak Life: Creating Your World With Your Words. You can find the interview with the author on You Tube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwvGAfl-JEc&frags=pl%2Cwn. It’s all about the power of words to change your life. This is a lot of what I’m talking about. We want to breathe life into people, rather than focusing on that, which is contentious, etc.
I don’t know if you can help your husband with this. But sometimes, as we approach the matter at a non-combative time, and make it something that you both will try to focus on in the future so you leave a positive legacy in life, they will sometimes join us. That’s what I’ve found in my marriage. God has shown us (in our closing years of 68 and 69) to focus on what we’re told in Philippians 4:8-9. “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Not only will God’s peace be upon us, but we will be helping others to get to that place of peace –further promoting the love of Christ. I hope this helps in some way. Please know that I’ve been praying for you.
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