People call summertime “carefree.” But for those who struggle with panic attacks or PTSD symptoms, it can be anything but. If someone you care about suffers from these symptoms, read on to learn more about how you can support them and have their back—in summer and beyond.
- Crowded places
Farmers markets, festivals, and parades are summertime staples. Yet for many people, these events can be a recipe for anxiety attacks. That’s because an intense fear of open or crowded places, called agoraphobia, is common among panic sufferers.
Try to follow your loved one’s lead if they experience this type of fear. They may want to go to an event, even if they’re nervous. Offer to go along, and let them know if they feel overwhelmed that you’ll leave with them right away.
And if they don’t want to go at all? Try to be understanding, and find other ways to spend time together that you both enjoy.
For many people, fireworks are a mark of summer. For many others, including war veterans and those who have been exposed to gun violence, the loud noises can trigger PTSD symptoms.
If a loved one prefers to avoid fireworks displays, ask what they’d like to do instead. They might feel safer watching the display on a TV. Or they might want to skip it altogether. Watching a movie in a theater is one way to block out the bangs and booms if that feels comfortable for them. (Just be sure to check the fireworks schedules to avoid driving home while they’re going off.)
- Social events
Of course parties happen throughout the year. But nice weather often means a season of larger outdoor gatherings. Great if you love parties. Not so great if social situations fill you with dread, including the dread of having a panic attack in public.
If your loved one is nervous about an event but wants to go, consider planning an exit strategy just in case. Pick a code word they can say if they hit their limit and have an excuse ready to leave quickly if needed.
- Hot weather
Heat alone can be a panic trigger for some people. It can increase your heart rate, cause breathing changes, and lead to dehydration. People who are prone to panic attacks often become hyper aware of body sensations like these. Some medications can also make it harder to regulate body temperature.
It may be impossible to avoid the heat entirely. But it can help to take basic steps to stay healthy: Drink plenty of water, make sure to get enough to eat, and take regular breaks to cool off.
- Disrupted schedules
For some people, maintaining a predictable routine is a key way of coping with panic or PTSD symptoms. Then summer comes along and changes everything. Kids may be home from school, work schedules may shift, even the longer daylight hours can make it hard to get enough sleep.
Try to talk to your loved one about how these disruptions are affecting them. Look for ways you can help them gain a sense of control within the changes. It may be allowing for a regular break from the kids, or defining a different schedule to follow for the next couple months.
New places, different foods, being surrounded by strangers: What feels like an adventure to some people can feel terrifying to others. Never mind all the confined spaces like cars, airplanes, elevators, and more that can be involved in getting from point A to B.
If your loved one’s fears are a barrier to travel, talk to them about it—without judgement or guilt. Consider the costs of their reluctance. If a fear of flying means limited vacation options, but they’re OK with that (and so are you), that may be one thing. If refusing to fly means not seeing grandchildren who live across the country, talk about what that means to them.
Help your loved one break free
Living with panic attacks or PTSD symptoms can have rippling effects on many areas of a person’s life. It can feel like the world gets smaller to cope and avoid unpleasant symptoms. But it doesn’t have to. There are treatments that can improve or even stop symptoms completely. And there are choices.
For people who prefer a medication-free treatment that works fast, Freespira is a great option. Freespira is FDA-cleared to treat panic attacks and PTSD symptoms in just 28 days. It can be used by adults and children age 13 and over. And it doesn’t require a doctor’s visit to get started. To learn more, set up a call with an advisor today.
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