I Wonder if My Dad has Panic Attacks

I’ve been wondering that for a while.

He is very “antsy”.  When he stops in to visit, he never stays long.  You’ll be in the middle of a conversation and he’ll say to my step-mom “Let’s go.  We’ve got to get going.”   He’ll give me a quick hug or something and leave.  Step-mom takes a little longer and says goodbye to everyone and finishes the conversation and then she goes to the car where he is waiting.

The first time I began to wonder about this was in Walmart in Vermont on vacation a few years ago.  This was right after I started having panic attacks.  I was pretty well saturated with ativan on that trip.  This was the first time I ever saw his behavior as something more than him being impatient and self-centered.  We were standing in the checkout line.  There were a bunch of us.  The cashier was so slow.  My dad was pacing.  He would walk off occasionally and come back with something to add to the cart – crackers, gum, whatever.  Looking at it now, maybe that was his distraction.  He was doing that just to avoid standing in that line.  When it was our turn to check out, he handed my sister some cash and left the store.

He does that kind of thing all the time.  We don’t even think it is unusual anymore.

At the beach one year he told me he was on some kind of medicine to keep him calm.  I don’t remember what it was called.  And he really didn’t want to talk about it more than that.  That was before I knew anything about panic attacks or anxiety.

Maybe he isn’t just antsy and anti-social.  Maybe he has social anxiety.  I wanted to talk to him about this at the beach this year.  I thought maybe we’d have some down time where just the two of us could gab.  We never got that time.  And I wouldn’t want to talk about it in front of anyone else so I never asked him. I’m not sure he’d ever admit it anyway.

Hopefully I’ll get the chance and have the nerve someday. If he does suffer from anxiety & panic attacks, I wouldn’t feel so alone in this.

Is this hereditary?  Is it a learned behavior?  Am I going to pass this on to my kids even though I am trying desperately to hide it from them?

I pray not.  But if it does happen, I would want them to know they are not alone.  I want to be there for them.  So maybe hiding it is not the best way to handle it?  I have no idea.  Just thinking out loud here.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jill
    Nov 10, 2011 @ 20:20:58

    I think there is a family hereditary component to nervousness in general. This is something I’ve prayed and prayed about too in regards to my daughters. One did have panic attacks at age 7 and the other not at all. But of course we always continue to hope and pray for the best.

    One thing for sure- if any of your kids ever has any anxiety issue (and I certainly hope they never do), you will be able to pick up on it and help them. Support and love and acceptance are huge, as you know.

    I used to hide all my anxiety from my family too. Now that I’ve come out to them – guess what? They knew about it all along, just like you’re describing your dad- his behaviors and so forth. Its not like they were horrified, but it’s not like i talk about it all the time in real life either, lol.


  2. Jenera
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 01:30:02

    I have taken a few psychology classes in the course of getting my degree plus I live with panic attacks, anxiety, and depression. So does my mother. Things like this are being found more and more to be heriditary especially with parents and children. Though some believe it is more through mom to children based on anxiety levels during pregnancy and what not.

    My mother has anxiety issues and I have been living with them since I was 16. I am scared to death that my boys will as well but it is something that I will be vigilant about so that they have better tools than I did and hopefully won’t have to hit a scary place like I did.


  3. snarkatussin
    Nov 13, 2011 @ 15:29:02

    I agree with Jill — I do think that there is a bit of heredity involved in anxiety. In my experience, as an anxious gal, I’ve found that developing and following through with strategies is most beneficial. When I get anxious, it’s easy to feel like you’re losing control, so the anxiety can easily take over. If you notice it’s happening with your kids, I’d recommend journaling the feelings and tracking, so that they can recognize anxiety-filled moments and learn how to deal with them.

    For a time, I took a very low dose anxiety medication, but haven’t been on anything in years and it’s because I’ve learned appropriate coping strategies. (That’s not to say I haven’t had any attacks, but generally, my anxiety can be reigned in on my own.)

    Good luck!


  4. Zoe
    Nov 14, 2011 @ 09:07:44

    2 of my 3 kids are shy. I was shy. My hubby was shy in school. So that is something I see already but I do believe my panic attacks began because of my life circumstances and the pure exhaustion I felt. Perhaps I was more prone to panic attacks because my Dad passed that on to me. I don’t know. I have not seen anything in my kids yet that indicate panic attacks, just simple shyness. I will be on the lookout though. :)
    Jill – does your daughter still have panic attacks? Age 7 is so young to have to deal with that!


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This blog is my personal journal. I am trying hard to save my marriage. No, I am trying to build a great marriage. In case you haven't heard, marriage is HARD!
I am fighting back against anxiety & panic attacks. This is year 5 of this adventure. I am also codependent. I am an ACOA. Fun, Fun. I am trying hard to become a better me.
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