Tips for Dating Someone With Panic Disorder

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If you are considering dating someone with panic disorder, you may have some concerns about their health and what it means for your relationship. Even though not every person with panic disorder experiences the condition in the exact same way, certain characteristics are common among panic disorder sufferers.

For instance, most people with panic disorder will encounter feelings of fear and anxiety and may be participating in some form of treatment to manage symptoms. Here are some things to consider when dating someone with panic disorder:

Let Go of Assumptions

When you first learn that the person you are dating has panic disorder, certain assumptions may come to mind. For example, you may think that they must be overly nervous and fearful, or perhaps you think they just worry too much.

Unfortunately, many misconceptions and myths about panic disorder may have influenced your view of this condition. Learning some basic facts about panic disorder will help you better understand and support your partner. Additionally, your gained knowledge may lessen the strain that panic disorder may have on your relationship.

Before making too many judgments about your dating partner's condition, it can be helpful to first learn more about panic disorder.

Meet Panic With Patience

It can be difficult to understand what your partner is dealing with if you have never experienced panic attacks or other anxiety-related symptoms. A person with panic disorder often encounters persistent and unanticipated panic attacks. These attacks are typically felt through distressful thoughts, upsetting emotions, and uncomfortable physical sensations.

For example, it is not unusual to feel somatic sensations during a panic attack, such as heart palpitations, shortness of breath, nausea, tingling, shaking, and chest pain. Such symptoms are often accompanied by feelings of fear, nervousness, and even shame.

When your partner is faced with panic attacks and anxiety, try to be patient and empathetic. Let your partner know that you are there for them, and that you have their safety and welfare in mind.

Be careful not to push your loved one into feared situations or dismiss their symptoms. Trying to push someone who is not ready can make them feel even more anxious and afraid.

Keep in mind that being empathetic does not mean you are ignoring your own needs. If you are dealing with your own stress, take time for yourself and practice some self-care. Managing your own tension can help you bring your best self to the relationship and may also positively influence your dating partner with panic disorder.

Be Supportive Not Suffocating

The stigma of panic disorder may prevent your dating partner from opening up further about the condition. Due to fears of rejection and worrying that others cannot relate, people with panic disorder are often susceptible to feelings of loneliness and isolation.

It may take some time to build trust before the person you are dating feels comfortable providing detail about what it is like to be living with an anxiety disorder. It can help to communicate to your partner that you are available to listen, but that you will not push for a discussion until your partner feels ready.

Do not bring up the panic disorder in front of other people. Many panic sufferers choose to tell only trusted friends and family about their condition.

Understandably, it may feel like a betrayal to have their condition broadcast to others, even if your intentions are to help. It can also cause embarrassment or other conflicts if you mention their mental health struggle in a group setting.

Become Part of the Solution

Panic disorder can be difficult to deal with, but it can be managed through treatment. You can be part of the solution by helping your partner cope with panic disorder. If your dating partner is interested, you may be able to get involved in their treatment process. Helping your partner develop coping techniques and attending the occasional therapy session may even help your relationship grow.

It's also important to set your own boundaries for what you can do for your partner, particularly in the early stages of your relationship.

A Word From Verywell

When dating someone with panic disorder, try to keep in mind that no partner is perfect. Every person on this planet has their own set of strengths, traits, and struggles. A healthy dating relationship with a person with panic disorder can be achieved through mutual respect, patience, and understanding.

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Kolek A, Prasko J, Ociskova M, et al. Severity of panic disorder, adverse events in childhood, dissociation, self-stigma and comorbid personality disorders Part 2: Therapeutic effectiveness of a combined cognitive behavioural therapy and pharmacotherapy in treatment-resistant inpatients. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2019;40(6):271-283.

  3. Baker AW, Hellberg SN, Jacoby RJ, et al. A pilot study augmenting cognitive behavioral therapy for panic disorder with attention bias modification: Clinical and psychophysiological outcomes. J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry. 2020;68:101568. doi:10.1016/j.jbtep.2020.101568

By Katharina Star, PhD
Katharina Star, PhD, is an expert on anxiety and panic disorder. Dr. Star is a professional counselor, and she is trained in creative art therapies and mindfulness.