Dealing with Panic Attacks and Anxiety after a Domestic Violence Arrest

Panic-Attack-DV-300x200If an altercation between you and your partner has ended up with you being arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, chances are your emotions are already at a fever pitch. Being charged with domestic violence can take the fear to a whole new level. Within hours, you’re suddenly faced with the possibility of losing your freedom, your family, access to your kids, etc. Your whole world could be hanging in the balance. Add to that the humiliation caused by being cuffed and put into a patrol car in plain sight of your neighbors, and it’s enough to make anyone anxious. 

All this to say, if you begin experiencing signs of panic attacks or severe anxiety in the wake of your domestic violence arrest, you’re not alone. These reactions are quite common, in fact. And yet, resolving a domestic violence charge may still take time, during which you may still have to deal with some of those triggers. So what can you do in the meantime to deal with any symptoms and bring your emotions into check? Let’s discuss some practical solutions. 

What is a Panic Attack, and What Are the Symptoms? 

A panic attack happens when you feel a sudden intense sense of fear, worry, and unease, usually without any immediate trigger. You may experience a feeling that everything and everyone around you is dangerous and that you might die. Many people who experience a panic attack for the first time mistake it for a heart attack.)  

When a panic attack is happening, it can often feel like the world has stopped and you’re isolated from anyone who could help. Typical symptoms include: 

  • Fast heartbeat 
  • Chest pain 
  • Shaking or trembling 
  • Sweating or chills 
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Feelings of lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Nausea or stomach pains
  • Feeling detached from oneself
  • Fears of going crazy or dying

How to Deal with Panic Attacks When They Happen 

Although panic attacks can be quite frightening, remember that they’re actually a symptom of something else. They aren’t dangerous in and of themselves. Start by reminding yourself of this fact. The following tips should help you deal with the attack until it passes. 

  • Stay in place if you can. Panic attacks usually last between 5-20 minutes, although some have been known to last an hour or more. It’s best not to move around during that time. Sit down in place, especially if you feel at risk of falling over. 
  • Control your breathing. Try taking some slow, deliberate deep breaths as this will provide more oxygen to your brain and help slow your heart rate. If you can keep your breathing under control, chances are the panic attack will subside more quickly. 
  • Focus on something inane or specific if it helps. This might be a mantra such as “I am safe” or “This is just a panic attack, and nothing harmful is actually happening.” Another helpful tip is to focus on a fixed point like a doorknob or even on a specific body part like a finger or toe. Focusing your mind helps alleviate the general sense of panic until the attack subsides.

Signs of General Anxiety 

You might not always experience acute attacks like a panic attack; sometimes, anxiety shows up in waves or even as a general undercurrent of unease in the mind and emotions. Some signs you may be experiencing general anxiety: 

  • Obsessing over things that are usually no big deal
  • Not being able to concentrate 
  • Feeling tired all the time, even when you get plenty of sleep 
  • Having trouble falling or staying asleep  
  • Changes in appetite 
  • Having trouble swallowing  
  • Experiencing diarrhea or other digestive problems

Self-Help for Anxiety and Panic Attacks 

There are a number of ways you can practice self-care during this time, and these techniques can both help you manage anxiety and reduce the threat of panic attacks.  

  • Physical exercise. Basic stretches, yoga, and aerobic exercise can get your blood flowing and your muscles working, preparing you for dealing with any potential triggers.  
  • Breathing exercises. Deep breathing is a proven way to reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. Practicing deep breathing regularly (even when you don’t feel anxious) can help you become more aware of how to do it in the moment when you need it most.  
  • Mindfulness practices. Most anxiety is about regret over the past or fear of the future. Learning to rest in the moment is, therefore, a key ingredient to managing anxiety. Apps like Calm or Headspace can provide guidance on techniques for learning to be mindful. 
  • Meditation or prayer. Exercising your ability to turn toward something/someone greater than yourself can also help with anxiety as well as depression. 

When to Seek Therapy 

If your own efforts to manage anxiety or curb panic attacks don’t seem to be working—or if you just don’t feel you are coping well with your domestic violence arrest or your family situation—it may be time to seek professional help from a licensed therapist or psychiatrist. These professionals understand how the mind works and can arm you with techniques or even medication to put you in a better position to cope. Anxiety and panic attacks are very treatable conditions. Don’t let them get in the way of your life or your future. 

While you take practical steps to deal with your own inner turmoil in the wake of a domestic violence arrest, you need a good defense attorney to help you deal with the charges themselves. For compassionate legal representation for domestic violence charges in Los Angeles, call our offices today. 

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