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 his or her health and what it means for your relationship. Even though not every person with panic disorder experiences the condition in the exact same way, there are certain characteristics that 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.

Things to Consider When Dating Someone With Panic Disorder

Here are some tips to consider when dating someone with panic disorder.

Let Go of Assumptions and Learn About the Condition

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

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

Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions and myths about panic disorder that may have influenced your view of this condition. It may seem that panic disorder is simply an overreaction to fear, however, it is actually a complex condition with many difficult symptoms.

Learning more about the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options for panic disorder can help you have a better idea of what to expect from your dating partner. Knowing more about their condition can allow you to gain a clearer perspective of what your partner is experiencing. Additionally, your knowledge and understanding may lessen the strain that panic disorder may have on your relationship.

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 dating a person with panic disorder, it is best to remain patient when your partner is faced with panic attacks and anxiety. Let them know that you are there for them and that you have their safety and welfare in mind.

Be careful not to push them into feared situations or dismiss their symptoms, as this can often lead to an increased sense of fear and anxiety.

Being empathetic does not mean that you are ignoring your own needs. If you are dealing with your own stress, take time for yourself by practicing self-care and tending to your own needs. Managing your own tension can help you bring your best self to the relationship and can also positively influence your dating partner with panic disorder.

Be Supportive Without Suffocating

The stigma of panic disorder may prevent your dating partner from opening up further about their 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 going into details about what it is like to be living with an anxiety disorder.

Communicate to your partner that you are available to listen, but that you will not push them into discussing it until they feel ready.

Do not bring up their disorder in front of others. Many panic sufferers chose to only tell trusted friends and family about their condition.

It can cause embarrassment or other conflicts if you mention their struggle in a group setting.

Become Part of the Solution

Panic disorder can be a difficult anxiety disorder to deal with but can be managed through treatment. You can be a 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 the treatment process. For instance, you can help your partner develop coping techniques, be a part of their medication management or even attend occasional therapy sessions. Plus, working together on problem-solving and coping can help your relationship grow.

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, which make them a unique individual. At the same time, being diagnosed with a mental health condition does not give the person the right to be disrespectful or abusive in any way. A healthy dating relationship with a person with panic disorder can be achieved through mutual respect, patience, and understanding.

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  • WebMD. "Helping Someone with Panic Disorder." 2014.