Help with effects of Anxiety Attacks! (not mine, but someone else's) (long)

I could really use some help-

My girlfriend’s father is going through a rough patch, currently, with some problems in his marriage. However, that’s not the problem. The problem is that his anxiety, which was not good before, is, well, raging, now. He has been to a therapist a few times (2-3), but is reluctant to return, for a host of reasons. I have a decent enough relationship with him that I’ve been leaning on him to continue to see the therapist, but I am not holding my breath about whether or not he will continue to go.

I figure, you can’t really help someone who isn’t interested in helping himself. I can’t make him go to therapy, and I can’t force him to take any medication, although Jebus knows that a horse dose of Prozac or Wellbutrin would do him a world of good. What I need is strategies on how to deal with him when he’s in the middle of an attack, that don’t include physical violence on my part.

An example or two may prove beneficial- he was to fly back from his vacation last night at midnight. His flight was delayed. He called his house to inform his wife that the flight would be late (we don’t live with him), but his wife didn’t answer the phone. Instead of figuring that she was in the shower, or otherwise occupied, he called us at 11:20 p.m., and was all wigged out about his wife not being able to pick him up when the flight eventually came in, at 7:00 a.m. the next day. (FWIW, there are problems between he and she, and some wigging is understandable, but there are plenty of rational solutions for the return from the airport problem).

I understand being a little rattled by having a flight change like that, especially seeing as how the new arrival time is close to when people have to go to work, but he was way, way off the deep end. I imagine that if one had measured his blood pressure at that moment, he’d have blown up the machine.

Example #2- he and I are part of a golf league on Saturday mornings. I wanted to hang out after my round, and have a beer with other people in the league. I was not planning on going to his house that day. He did not drive me to the course. We had had all of the social interaction planned for the day. However, he insisted that I leave the parking lot when he was ready to go, and generally was so unpleasant that I just left so as not to make a scene.

What in the heck am I supposed to do? His psychoses are driving my poor girlfriend insane, and I can’t stand to be around him, because he makes me crazy. I like the man, and I know he’s under a lot of pressure and strain right now, but I can’t stand for him to call my house, and I’m afraid I’m going to snap at him when he’s in the middle of one of these spells.

Any suggestions on how to handle this?
Failing that, anyone know where I can get a Taser?


IANAD or shrink, obviously, but I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (with intermittent panic attacks) three years ago. For many, a simple antidepressant (I doubt Wellbutrin, a med you mentioned, would do anything but aggravate the problem) like Paxil (an SSRI) or Serzone (SNRI) can help, but these take a few weeks to work. What to do in the meantime? Unfortunately, IMO, go the benzodiazepine route. A fast- and short-acting benzo like Ativan or Xanax is good in a pinch because they take care of the immediacy of the attacks.

I rarely have panic attacks, hence I don’t have “panic disorder” per se. Rather, I have a constant, underlying anxiety that I’ve managed to keep under control with a slow- and long-acting benzodiazepine (clonazepam). Neither Paxil nor Serzone helped my anxiety. It got so bad I hauled myself to the ER and demanded someone address my anxiety and not just my depression. I went the meds route, and my anxiety was gone within two days. I finally felt OK. (The depression thing is another matter altogether, though. I’ve been less successful with getting over it.)

Now, I’m not advocating that everyone should go the meds route, because certainly therapy can help keep anxiety and panic in check. However, if the person doesn’t want therapy, what can you do? Maybe if your girlfriend’s father just gave meds a try and saw how much better he felt - and how much better those around him felt - he would stick to it, at least for a while, and not be so reluctant to return to therapy.

I still have the occasional panic attack, and my anxiety can be more pronounced some days, but it certainly beats the hell out of how I felt up until that day I went to the ER. I see my shrink semi-regularly, and I know if I really need to see him in an emergency, he’ll give me an appointment as soon as he can. Being trained in psychopharmacology, he also keeps my meds in check. But mostly we just talk.

In any case, that’s been my experience. Best of luck, and let us know what happens. :slight_smile:

  • s.e.


the following links may prove useful to him, and to you and the family for gaining some insight/understanding into what he might be feeling:


scott evil- I think you’re right about Ativan or Xanax- the “quick release” meds (for lack of a more artful way of putting it) would definitely make a huge difference. Problem is, knowing him, you’d just about have to tie him down, or dose him in his sleep to get him to take meds, especially those of a psychopharmacological nature. Heck, it was an uphill (and ongoing) battle to get the guy to finish out a &^*&% course of antibiotics!

I suppose what I really need is good suggestions on how to deal with these things from the outside- to be perfectly selfish, I want to be able to minimize the turmoil that his wig-out spells have on my girlfriend’s life, and consequently, my own.

No suggestions about where to get a Taser?