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Does anyone ever have panic attacks associated with the sudden death of their spouse?  I watched my husband die and all I see is him grabbing at his chest and telling me he had a bad back spasm.  Now every time I feel anything in my chest or back I panic.  While I have been diagnosed with PTSD and panic disorder associated with this and take medication, sometimes I still get panicky and watch the clock to see if I am going to live (I look to see if I will make it past the 45 minutes he had between his first symptom and death, if I make it past that I generally fell better).  Does anyone else have these symptoms?  Any techniques help you get through those moments of panic?  I want to avoid taking xanax and the other meds they have prescribed all the time (this happens weekly) but it has gotten so bad I have ended up in the Urgent care center for the panic attack thinking I'm dying. 

Any similar stories or advice would would be greatly appreciated.

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I too suffer from panic attacks and PTSD. My boyfriend died of an accidental overdose of morphine, beside me in bed. At 6am he was alive, talkative, & spooning me, and when I fell asleep and the alarm went off at 8am he was gone. I dialed 911 & tried to perform CPR to bring him back, he didn't come back..........I get horrible panic attacks when I think about it, I struggle and fight to push it from my mind, whenever I begin to think of that morning, or the viewing before his funeral......I instantly go to his pics of him alive or watch videos of him alive to replace the bad memories with our good ones of him alive. Breathing deeply and sitting down helps too! Avoid shallow breath! I'm now fearful of medication, tho I confess have also sometimes become a lil more careless too, for a part of me longs to die and I wouldn't mind an accidental death....could never do it on purpose tho. Panic attacks suck, I'm so sorry!

Its been 4 months for me and I still suffer from panic attacks and no sleep. I stay up all night with the recurring thoughts in my head that I can't shut off. I stay on the computer all night to try to keep my mind busy to keep the thoughts away. Finally in the wee hours of daylight I will finally drift off but only for about 3 hours. I'm exhausted and no one will help me. I've been to two Dr's who both told me I'm suffering from PTSD but they won't give me anything to stop the panic attacks that make me feel like I'm dying or having a heart attack. So I suffer everyday. I finally got an appointment with a Psychiatrist but it's not for three more weeks! I'm hoping he can help me somehow but I don't have a lot of hope. I don't know how long I can keep suffering like this. I pray that I don't wake up from my short naps. I am ready to go. I am so tired and worn down.

I've had panic attacks my whole life, and I'll have periods of time (years, months, etc.) when they are intense, and other periods of time when they completely go away.  Since G died, I've been having panic attacks again.  Totally sucks.  I feel ya. 

I have been suffering from great anxiety and panic attacks as well anytime I think of him in pain and the tragic day. I am so overwhelmed.....
I didn't suffer panic attacks but I had a lot of anxiety which I never discussed with anyone. I would hyperventilate! I watched my husband die too and it is a terribly helpless feeling. I had great difficulty going out and talking to anyone so I pretty much avoided that for a while. It just was very uncomfortable and made me feel extremely nervous.

For months, I would visualize the scene and kept trying to figure out what I could have done to save him. I felt guilt and responsible even knowing that there really wasn't anything I, or anyone could have done. It's just getting that to soak into the brain! In time, it did ease up.

I have no real suggestions other than maybe some sort of counseling. It's that sudden shock of something so unexpected, our brains are unable to process. It is so shocking that for days, I thought it was a bad dream. When I awoke in the morning, I would tell myself this is real, it really did happen!

You have to understand, you did not make him sick. We make decisions at the time, doing the best we can. We cannot avoid death though we try to delay it. If you are hung up with the woulda, coulda, shouldas, realize that many people experience these feelings and as difficult as it is, we must accept we are not at fault. I hope in time, your symptoms ease and you are able to find peace.

I feel for all of us who experience panic attacks following our spouses death. They are downright frightening. The last panic attack landed me in the ER with chest pains.  To complicate things I have lupus and had gotten overly tired and was not drinking enough water so my potassium level was low. I have had generalized anxiety disorder with PTSD for almost my entire life. It was the result of extreme neglect and abuse in my childhood. I have gone into therapy on and off during stressful periods in my life.

I found the anxiety and panic symptoms increased tremendously following my husbands sudden and unexpected death.   My family physician gave me a few pills to get me through the worst. I wanted to avoid the medications so I called my therapist and got back in with her right away. She is a clinical psychologist who works with PTSD patients.  I find talking things through with my therapist and practicing some of anxiety/stress reduction exercises she suggests has helped.

It has been 14 months since my husband died and I continue to see my therapist on a regular basis. A psychiatrist can prescribe medications but I would advise anyone who has panic attacks that are overwhelming to find a clinical therapist who specializes in anxiety/panic attacks and PTSD.

I lost my wife 06/20/15 I came home found her in living room floor unresponsive. She took two last breaths. I'm a 22 year Emt I immediately started Cpr on her and continued for over 35 mins waiting on Ems to arrive. I stay sick to my stomach everyday I've lost 32 pounds in 4 weeks, anxiety is driving me crazy. I replay that day in my head every single day. I should have been able to save her. I get nervous when night time gets near and get sick ,shaky & sweaty. Depression is beating me up bad. I tried to seek help to no avail. All I do is question my skills as an Emt , why couldn't I save her, if I'd been home would I have had time to get her to the hospital. I had talked to her most of the way home I dropped birthday cake off at the venue got home 12 minutes later & found her. I just can't understand this. We were devout Christians. She had hundreds of people & churches praying for her but nothing happened. I just don't understand why God would not save her this has bruised my faith bad. I've not been able to attend church since she passed. I tried praying asking for answers , comfort & understanding. Still no answers. I've seen almost anything bad that anyone could see during my 22 year Ems career. Nothing has messed with my mind near as bad as having to work on my own wife. I've got to the point where I'd just rather go on too I don't & can't see myself living on without her. This is just too much to handle. She seemed very healthy had no complaints while we were on the phone. Little did I know that in the next 12 minutes my life was going to be turned upside down. I just can't grasp this. She was everything I had ever prayed and ask God to send me. I feel like I've lost everything and have nothing left to live for. This is just so hard.

Heath - So sorry for the tragic sudden death of your wife, and of course you as an EMT thought you should be able to save her.

Those here understand what you are going through, and we are all on our own journeys.  I'm sorry you could not find help for your depression, but please do not give up, there are many sources of help.  Have you found a grief group to attend in your area?

Please continue to post here, if you find it therapeutic.  There is also a chat room where people are often chatting.  Sometime just being able to know you are not alone, and not crazy, will help.

Hugs to you.

Thank you ! I feel like I'm going crazy sometimes.

This is a normal feeling, especially since you're so new to this.

You are still marking times in weeks. (I do it in years now.) I hit my "absolute" worst/lowest point when I was at about 16 weeks.

Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Stop and catch your breath as you need. Keep posting too.

I am so sorry for the circumstances in which you lost tour beloved wife. It had to be quite traumatic. When these things happen, we do the very best we can but end up doubting ourselves and yes, these pictures play back in our minds over and over again. Every action, every second, every decision. Even though we know we can't change a thing! I think you might benefit more by talking with a grief counselor or therapist rather than a medication, at least for now. Please understand your feelings are quite normal, I know I certainly felt guilty for not being able to save my husband but what I think is important that we accept it is sometimes God's will and out of our control. You didn't make her sick and it sounds like you did everything in your power to save her. Keep telling yourself this!

You're not going crazy, it is all apart of grief. Who knew? Gosh, I had no idea how awful it would be. There are so many emotions tangled up that need to be sorted and understood. Eventually, we find acceptance and peace but it is a long road full of peaks and valleys. Allow your feelings to flow as this is how we heal.

I also think this forum may be helpful for you because we all do understand. I hope you continue your career as we need more people like you that dedicate their lives in helping others. Last night I attended and outdoor concert where the song "Proud to be an American" was dedicated to all veterans, doctors, nurses, and EMT's and it was quite moving. Bless you.

Heath, I just read your post and I am truly sorry that you had to lose your wonderful wife period, but especially in such a traumatic way. As I have read through many posts on this site and as I myself experienced, many of us had to attempt CPR to try to save our loved ones to no avail. Like you, I replay those final moments (and in my case the final weeks leading up to my husband's death - he had cancer) over and over again. Someone told me that seeing a psychologist, rather than a counsellor, who knows about Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) can be helpful to work on changing the thoughts focused on the negative to something less damaging. I'm not sure it will work but I'm going to try it in the next month and see.

Like others have said, you did everything you could and I am certain you are an excellent EMT as you stepped in right away to act in the face of personal trauma. Many people would probably freeze up, I think. You did you absolute best and that's all you can ask of yourself. Eventually you will be able to cut yourself some slack, at least that's what people tell me. I'm hoping to be able to do the same. I'm sure you've told yourself this and maybe you can't believe it at this point, but even the most skilled EMTs, nurses, doctors, surgeons, etc lose patients sometimes despite giving 100%.

It's pretty awful not having the answers and not knowing why we or God couldn't have saved our spouses. I'm told this is something we have to learn to live with. I'm not sure I can (I'm only about 3 weeks since my husband passed).

Please hang in there, take it one hour at a time and keep posting if you'd like support. We are all in this terrible, rocky boat together.


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