HOW TO DEAL WITH POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD) AND ANXIETY ATTACKS

Follow my recent article regarding PTSD I was posed with this email:

Hi Charlotte,

Thank you for your article.  I have a daughter who suffers from anxiety attacks which the doctor has diagnosed with PTSD due to her dad (my husband)dying suddenly.  We moved to Spain a couple of years ago to start again and try to move on.  She is now 16 and about 6 months ago started suffering with panic attacks.  I don´t know what to do and she refuses to see anyone about it, saying that therapy won’t help.  What can I do?

MY REPLY

Thank you for your email, I appreciate the situation that you are in and whilst she refuses to accept help life can be tricky for you too.  If you feel that you also need support that is normal and something you might also want to look into and I can discuss with you if necessary.  Certainly, you are not alone and there are some things which you can do to support her and suggest to her.  You might start by suggesting some breathing techniques.  I would suggest that atleast three times a day she can practise these techniques, more will certainly not harm:

Fix your vision on something solid a mark on the wall, a picture etc. Next notice your breath.  Notice the in-breath going in through your nose, at the same time count to 4.  As you breathe in and reach the count of 4, hold the breath for 6 seconds (“1 second 2 seconds 3 seconds” etc).  Next focus on the out-breath, watch the air exit from your nose and count to 8 in the same way, “1 second, 2 seconds etc”.

Repeat this at least 5 times,during the day and at periods when there is no anxiety.  When there is anxiety then repeat until the anxiety has subsided.  I appreciate that sometimes the anxiety can come all of a sudden and once into a deep experience of panic then it can be impossible to focus. This is the exact reason that one needs to practise at times when there is no stress, once the mind is trained to start the breathing technique automatically then it will become easier to recognise when the anxiety is starting and prevent it and should an actual attack start then it is easier to shorten the episode and re-gain control.

Other advice I can give is to write things down.  She does not need to show you what she has written but if she can start a journal and write her emotions down, emotions being, “I am shaking, sweating.  I feel nauseas.  I have an empty feeling in my stomach.  Plus thoughts like, “I feel lonely,abandoned, and angry” etc.  This will help her to accept them rather than fight them. It also helps to break the circular thinking and the mind has more space to move forward rather than stay stuck in the same cycle. 

Finally, I advise a personalised recording.  If she is not ready to speak to someone face-to-face then I can create a personal recording especially for her needs and she can listen to at her own leisure and as much as she needs.  For more information either contact me on: 654931886