What To Know Before Dating Someone Who Has Panic Attacks

February 13, 2018  |  
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GEttyimages.com/An affectionate african-american couple hugging and watching their children play on the beach

Not everyone who is prone to panic attacks could be described as nervous people. In fact, a lot of individuals have panic attacks specifically because they do such a good job of ignoring and suppressing fears as they come up throughout their lives, but they need to come out eventually. For this reason, many individuals are shocked to find out the person they’re dating has panic attacks—he seems so calm, collected, and in control all of the time. There are a lot of elements of dating someone who has panic attacks that aren’t quite what you’d expect. You can absolutely carry on a healthy relationship with someone who suffers from these awful attacks, but there are some things you should prepare for so that you can help rather than aggravate the incidences. Here’s what to prepare for when dating someone who has panic attacks.

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Don’t interfere with his tasks

Sticking to routines, to-do lists, and schedules is very important. Staying on top of these things helps keep panic attacks at bay. Don’t throw a wrench in your partner’s day or try to interfere with what he needs to do at all.

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You’ll get attention when those tasks are done

Also understand that your partner will seem a bit distant and even cold until he’s finished all of his tasks. Those with panic disorder usually cannot emotionally multitask. They can focus on what they have to get done and only after that can they switch into being affectionate.

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Know when to leave him with his thoughts

You’ll have to learn to read your partner’s body language, sounds, and facial expressions. This is important so you can know, when he is totally silent, if speaking to him will send him into a panic. He may need quiet to work something out in his head.

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And when to snap him out of them

Once you get to know your partner’s body language, you can also identify when you need to snap him out of a panic-inducing thought process. And when you see that, it’s important that you talk to him immediately.

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He’ll fluctuate with medication

Understand that your partner will fluctuate with medication—both in whether or not he takes it, and how much of it he takes. You don’t get much say in the matter. He has to come to his own conclusions about what dosage works for him.

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Never admit that something is a big deal

Even when you know something is a big deal, you have to be the greatest actor in the world and convince your partner that it’s no big deal—that nobody noticed the thing he did wrong, that nobody is mad, and that everything is fine.

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But don’t roll your eyes either

Don’t go overboard on making it seem like nothing is a big deal by belittling your partner’s concerns and rolling your eyes. This just makes him feel very alone.

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Separate him from your loud friends

You may love your loud, boisterous friend who loves to push boundaries by trying to cut the lines at clubs and trying to get free things, but your anxiety-ridden partner does not.

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And your sarcastic friends

Those prone to panic also don’t do well with sarcastic individuals. They never know when to take a comment in seriousness or in jest, and figuring this out causes them anxiety.

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Never invite someone without consulting him

Never add someone to the dinner party invite list or invite someone to a group outing without first consulting your partner. Those prone to panic attacks often have anxiety about mixing new friend groups.

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When he is eager to do something fun/relaxing, go with it

When your partner seems really eager to do something like hike, have a picnic, or go to the beach, just do it. Drop what you’re doing and help him do this.

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Get ready for obsessive questioning and analyzing

Your partner will obsess about things—he will need to analyze a social interaction he had for a long time, working out the kinks of it in his mind, and what he could have done differently. You’ll just have to indulge these rants.

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And a lot of big picture talks

Your partner will also—what seems like spontaneously—launch into big picture talks. These are talks about what he’s doing with this life, what happens after we die, and other meta topics you may not feel ready for.

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Choose and filter the information you share

You need to think very carefully before sharing certain information with your partner, especially if you’re telling him a story that might contain details that could cause him anxiety. You need to have excellent editing skills.

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You can’t get upset

You can’t get angry with your partner because no matter how much pain and inconvenience his anxiety causes you, you know that what he is going through is so much worse.

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