Time to quell stereotypes around women with Panic attack

By Sanabil Tanweer

In Pakistan, sadly, majority of us have this concept that a marriage fixes everything. Let it be old family rivalries, property disputes or an ailment.

Recently when a woman in her mid-20s with the symptoms of having a Panic attack visited a local hospital in Lahore, the ER Doctor on duty after taking her vitals asked if she is married or not? Because according to him what she was going through is common to happen with the women of same age and above. Having said that, he dismissed her on an unsatisfactory mode.

I wonder if it is acceptable from a doctor with years of practice to show such a behavior? And if such a statement is even valid to make? There is a lot of discourse around the fact that doctors have been known to dismiss the medical concerns of women and chalk them up to irrelevant things often times resulting in severe consequences for the patient

What is a Panic attack?

It is a periodic attack of an intense fear and discomfort that intensifies within 10-20 minutes of its onset. A person during an attack would experience several symptoms but the most common are – dizziness, chest pain, trembling of the body, numbness, shortness of breath etc.

The symptoms are most likely to begin before the age of 25 but may occur in the mid-30s and above and interestingly a panic attack is twice as common in a woman as it is in a man.

What is the treatment?

The question remains; does a marriage helps it if any at all because a panic disorder could occur irrespective of a person’s marital status. We need to change this mentality and the stigma that runs especially around a single woman and her mental health. There could be many reasons that a person could have a panic disorder and not being married is surely not one of them, but we as a society make it that if a woman is not married she is likely to have depression or anxiety and hence get her married.

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Only solution is look around, be alert, and observe what’s happening to the people around you, in your house, in your circle, mental health issues arise when you are not looking. If you notice someone being late at the office every day, someone avoiding meals for hours and hours, someone who is losing interest in day to day life, sit down with them and talk them into seeing some counselling. You can’t even possibly imagine what they are going through every single day and night. Appreciate the people who come forward about their mental illness and make them feel like a part of the community, a part of the group. Give them the assurance that they have someone to talk to, someone is always there.