What To Do If Your Wife Is Having A Panic Attack
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What To Do If Your Wife Is Having A Panic Attack


Panic attacks can deeply impact spouses, as they witness their loved ones endure overwhelming fear and distress. Support and understanding are vital. Partners can play a crucial role by learning about panic attacks, offering reassurance during episodes, and encouraging professional help when needed. Compassion and patience strengthen the bond in such challenging times.



Table of Contents

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What Is A Panic Attack?

What Causes Panic Attacks?

How Do I Help My Wife Overcome A Panic Attack?

Should My Wife Get Therapy For Her Panic Attacks?






What Is A Panic Attack?


A panic attack is a sudden and intense episode of extreme fear or anxiety that can be overwhelming and debilitating. These attacks often come on quickly, peaking within minutes, and can last for several minutes to an hour. Panic attacks can be frightening not only because of the intense emotional distress they cause but also because they often feel like a life-threatening situation, even though they are not physically dangerous.


Common symptoms of a panic attack may include:

Rapid heartbeat (palpitations)
Shortness of breath or a feeling of choking
Trembling or shaking
Chest pain or discomfort
Nausea or abdominal distress
Dizziness or lightheadedness
A feeling of detachment from reality or a sense of unreality
Fear of losing control or going crazy
Fear of dying
Numbness or tingling sensations
Hot flashes or chills


Panic attacks can occur without any apparent trigger or in response to a specific situation or stimulus. When they happen in response to a specific trigger, they are sometimes referred to as “panic disorder” if the individual experiences recurrent and unexpected panic attacks along with persistent worry about having future attacks or changes in behavior to avoid situations that might trigger them.


Panic attacks can be a one-time occurrence or a recurring problem, and they can significantly disrupt a person’s life. If you or someone you know is experiencing panic attacks or panic disorder, it is essential to seek help from a mental health professional, as effective treatments, including therapy and medication, are available to help manage and reduce the frequency and intensity of panic attacks.





Wife Panic Attack

Photo by Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas



What Causes Panic Attacks?


Panic attacks, intense episodes of overwhelming fear and anxiety, can have multiple underlying causes. Firstly, genetics plays a role, as individuals with a family history of panic disorder are at a higher risk. Biochemically, imbalances in neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine can contribute to the onset of panic attacks.


Psychologically, chronic stress and anxiety can trigger panic attacks. Stressors such as work pressure, financial worries, or relationship problems can accumulate, leading the body’s fight-or-flight response to misfire.


Traumatic experiences, like physical or emotional abuse, can also increase vulnerability to panic attacks, as they create lasting psychological scars.


Furthermore, lifestyle factors come into play. Excessive caffeine intake, recreational drug use, and some medications can provoke panic attacks or exacerbate their frequency. Environmental factors, such as phobias or agoraphobia (fear of open spaces), can trigger attacks when confronted with specific situations or triggers.


Panic attacks are complex and multifaceted, often stemming from a combination of genetic, biochemical, psychological, and environmental factors. Understanding these triggers is crucial for effective treatment and management.


Individuals experiencing panic attacks should seek professional help to address their unique underlying causes.







How Do I Help My Wife Overcome A Panic Attack?


Supporting a wife during a panic attack requires empathy, patience, and understanding. Here are some steps to assist:

  1. Stay Calm: Maintain your composure. Your calm presence can help anchor your wife and convey that the situation is manageable.
  2. Create a Safe Environment: Move to a quiet, comfortable space to reduce sensory stimuli. If possible, dim the lights and provide a cozy blanket.
  3. Encourage Breathing: Gently guide her to take slow, deep breaths. Inhale for a count of four, hold for four, and exhale for four. This can help regulate her breathing and reduce hyperventilation.
  4. Validate Feelings: Let her know it’s okay to feel this way and that you’re there to support her. Avoid minimizing or dismissing her emotions.
  5. Offer Physical Comfort: Hold her hand, offer a hug, or provide soothing touch if she’s comfortable with it. Physical contact can provide reassurance.
  6. Distract from Panic: Engage her in a simple, grounding task, like counting objects in the room or describing their characteristics.
  7. Avoid Judgment: Do not criticize or ask her to “snap out of it.” Panic attacks are involuntary and not a sign of weakness.
  8. Know Her Triggers: Over time, learn her triggers and signs of an impending attack, so you can help prevent or mitigate them.
  9. Seek Professional Help: Encourage her to consult with a mental health professional for long-term support and strategies to manage panic attacks.


Remember, each person is unique, so adapt your approach based on what you know about your wife’s preferences and needs. Your unwavering support can make a significant difference in her ability to cope with panic attacks.





Should My Wife Get Therapy For Her Panic Attacks?


Therapy is a highly effective and evidence-based approach for individuals dealing with panic attacks. One commonly used therapeutic approach is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). In CBT, individuals work with a trained therapist to identify and reframe negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to panic attacks. They learn coping strategies to manage anxiety, including relaxation techniques and controlled breathing exercises.


Exposure therapy, a component of CBT, helps individuals confront their triggers in a controlled and gradual manner to reduce their fear response.


Another effective therapy is mindfulness-based interventions, such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). These approaches teach individuals to stay present in the moment, reducing anxiety about the past or future, which can contribute to panic attacks.


Therapy provides a safe and supportive environment for individuals to explore the root causes of their panic attacks, develop coping skills, and gain a better understanding of their emotional experiences. It is crucial for individuals experiencing panic attacks to seek professional help to determine the most appropriate therapeutic approach for their specific needs, as therapy can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of panic attacks, allowing for a better quality of life.



Panic attacks can be a terrifying experience, but there are ways to manage them and reduce the likelihood of their recurrence. If you continue to have panic attacks, seek help from a medical or mental health professional.






Written and Edited By: Dr. Kyle Zrenchik, PhD, LMFT

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Kyle Zrenchik, PhD, LMFT

Published : 09/04/2023



Disclaimer: ALL IN Therapy Clinic aims to improve people’s lives. We do this through providing effective mental health counseling by passionate professionals. Inspired by this, we write content for your own education. Also, our content is researched, cited, reviewed, and edited by licensed mental health professionals.  However, the information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Additionally, it should not be used in place of the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.