Widows and Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are the most frightening of all stress symptoms and are experienced by approximately one in ten adults.  They can occur after we have lost a loved one and our stress is high.

A panic attack causes your heart to start pounding, you feel dizzy, sweating and shaking, causing you to be terrified that you are going to faint or completely lose control.

It may appear out of nowhere but is usually triggered by an overload of stresses, worries and life events such as the death of a loved one.  You may misinterpret a panic attack by thinking you’re having a heart attack, dying or going crazy.  Once you have one panic attack you are always looking for signs of another, which causes you to become even more anxious and irrational.

Remember that they are unpleasant and frightening but that panic attacks in themselves are harmless.  They happen when you are feeling tired or run down and less able to cope with stress.

How to Cope with Panic Attack

  • Remember feelings of panic are exaggerated reactions to stress.
  • They are harmless by themselves.
  • Distract yourself by studying your surroundings in detail.
  • Slow down and focus on the word “calm” – repeating it over and over
  • Accept your feelings, knowing it will be over quickly.
  • Take slow, deep breaths; concentrate on breathing in and out.
  • Shout out “stop” and deliberately think about something else.
  • Try to break your thought pattern by putting a rubber band around your wrist and snapping it every time you have an unwanted thought. 

6 Responses

  1. Elia
    | Reply

    my husband passed December 19th 2014.it will be ten months since he left this world and the first 5 months of my life alone I walked around in a fog,alive but just going through the motions..I’ve experienced depression,grief,anger,sadness and loneliness but I felt completely helpless when I had panic attacks which would hit suddenly and last for about 20 minutes. I have decided that my life does have meaning and although it will be hard to experience life as it was with Phillip,he would want me to go on and allow him to see life through my eyes.

  2. Barbara
    | Reply

    My panic attacks also come with bathrrom issues, and sometimes nausea.  I always had them, and my doctor but me on a tranqulizer to keep them at bay.  Since the death of my husband 8 months ago, I just had my first one this morning.  Last night I had terrible nightmares, and the strangest thing happened.  I woke from the nightmare because a women standing next to my husbands side of the bed called my name twice.  I didn't actually see her, but know of her prensence. I didn't know the voice, but it was soft and genlle.  I can't help but think it was an angle.  I was soaked with sweat from the nightmare.  I wanted my husband with me so badly.  Later the next morning I had the panic attack.  Today I have been on my gingerale, saltine diet for nausea.  I hope I don't have another one for a long time.  I feel so alone as my family is scattered all over the US.  Will this ever go away?

    • Mary Francis
      | Reply

      Hi Barbara – many widows have told me stories about angles or visits from their husbands.  I, myself, felt the presence of my husband one night when I was half asleep.  It was just the comfort I needed at that time.  Our health often takes a down turn when we are grieving, so it’s normal to have some issues for a while.  Take control by doing what you can by diet and exercise.  If you do what you can, then you have to let the rest go.  After grieving comes healing, both mentally and physically, but healing takes time.

      Take care, Mary Francis

  3. Christine
    | Reply

    My husband almost died a week ago but is now okay.
    Since then, im in absolute panic mode. I have this constant ” what if ” mode that terrifies me.
    We been married 26 years and he always managed all the finances. I can’t deal with any stress as I have a anxiety and panic disorder.
    We never had children and there is no family left on either side .
    We just moved from the east coast to the west cost and have no friends……yet.
    I am overwhelmed at the thought that he could pass at any point and I’m left …….alone.
    It absolutely terrifies me to the point it’s manafesting in diarrhea, blurred vision and cold sores.
    I’m at a point , I hope I’ll get cancer or die before he does.

    • Mary Francis
      | Reply

      Christine – your life is important so please take control of what you can.

      First thing I would suggest is that you sat down with your husband and learn everything there is to know about your finances.

      Second thing is to make sure your name is on all your assets and expenses.

      Third and most important is to have a Will so there are no problems with the estate.

      Being prepared will help ease your panic and you will not be as overwhelmed if something does happen.

      Until then enjoy the time you do have with him.

      Take care and be safe. Mary Francis

    • Mary Francis
      | Reply

      Dear Christine – none of us know how much time we have on this earth. Most widows would give anything to be in your place and still have their husbands. Relax and enjoy your time, for whatever length it is. You have him now – love him and live life fully. Mary Francis

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