My grandma is getting anxiety attacks and she has high blood pressure. How can I calm her?

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My grandmother is getting upset and very agitated when she hears or watches anything. She is putting Biblical meanings to songs, tv shows, news, etc. It's bad for her heart (and mine because we are both stressed out). She feels she has done something wrong and is being punished by God. I took her to a doctor, who only gave her a prescription for a sedative. (Ativan) I don't want to give her more medicine or make her more groggy. At times, she seems relaxed and can talk more normally. I am afraid to leave her alone, (because she may get upset over something) and the rest of our family is too far away to help. I live with her, and I don't know what else to do to calm her. Any advice is appreciated, thanks

Answers 1 to 10 of 28
Top Answer
I think maybe she needs to be seeing her Pastor rather than an MD.
I have relatives who get panic attacks. They have been taught some breathing techniques to help them get through them. I know that one sometimes pulls over on the highway and calms himself down before continuing. You might try Googling "panic attack breathing techniques" and see what is suggested. Would your grandmother be willing to try something like that?

What does she do when she feels this anxiety? You meantion not wanting to leave her alone in case she has one. Do you think she might do something harmful? My dad used to have "nerve attacks" and he would call one of us kids on the phone and just talk about anything until it passed. Would your grandmother be able to call you on the cell phone if she had an episode while you were gone? Being resticted to the house with her has got to be stressful.

Since the anxiety has religious overtones, I agree with naheaton's suggestion as well.

Good luck.
My grandma gets in a very agitated state of crying, and shaking, so I'm worried because it can raise her blood pressure dangerously high. She has had many tests and has not been diagnosed with Alzheimer's or dementia, so I think this must be anxiety or depression. She sometimes babbles random thoughts, and it can be hard to get her to stop talking. I think she is relying on her religious books for some type of comfort. It's hard for me to understand, because I don't know the Bible as much as she does. My grandma hasn't been to church in years because she had some opposing views and decided to leave, so she doesn't have a pastor now. In the past year or so, we have lost 5 family members, and heard of the sickness of friends, which caused a great deal of stress.
She was on an anti-depressant med before, Celexa, and it gave her a choking cough, so I had to discontinue it.
I have my own anxiety issues, and I'm very worried about her.
Thanks for responding.

There are many other antidepressants that could be tried. There are also anti anxiety meds. Her current behaviors should probably be discussed with her doctor.
You are struggling with a tough situation because it involves both physical and emotional issues. I can relate to what you are saying due my life long issues with anxiety and my devout beliefs as a Christian. Regarding your grandmother's issues: I would work on the anxiety issues with a psychiatrist or your internist, if possible. There a medications intended for panic attacks as well as others that can be used daily, if needed. You are protecting your grandmother's health if you reduce her panic attacks and anxiety instead of hurting it with more medication. I try to control mine without medication but it sounds like I am much younger than your grandmother and possibly more open to learning new skills. Regarding her panic attacks when dwelling on religion, I would suggest that you join her in a daily Bible study that can be very brief. Start by going to a bookstore that can sell you an UPLIFTING and POSITIVE devotion book. Tell them why you need it. My grocery store has a whole rack of books like this. Provide your grandmother and yourself with spiral notebooks that become your prayer journals and your journals to record special verses. Introduce all of this by asking your grandmother to help you learn to derive comfort from the Bible. Gently and verbally turn her away from the negative or record the negatives in her notebook under things to pray about. There are so many positive sites that provide daily devotions through the web, too.
The changes won't happen overnight, but daily practice for just a few minutes (ten or 15) may give your grandmother a great deal of peace. I hope all of this gets better for both of you. Your grandmother is blessed to have someone who cares about her. :) Rebecca
A doctor has given us Ativan .5 mg for her anxiety and outbursts. It made her drowsy but just briefly, and then she was up again writing Bible verses in a notebook and repeating what she hears on tv, saying there is a connection to them. She says she doesn't want to sleep, or doesn't need it. (But if she doesn't sleep, then I won't either because I worry about her.)

Is Ativan safe? I have read other's stories of elderly having bad withdrawals and other issues with this drug. She also takes high blood pressure medication.
I really believe an internist or other doctor who understands the needs of geriatric patients should be advising you ASAP. Call your doctor's office and explain the situation as needing immediate attention or take your grandmother to a good ER during her next panic attack. The problem with not treating panic attacks is that they can have a very negative impact on high blood pressure. Can you control a great deal of the media your grandmother sees? It is frightening at times. Please stay in touch. Rebecca
In a similar situation, last year I took my grandma to the ER, but she had worse outbursts, because they just tried to restrain her (holding her down) and with drugs like Haldol, which made her depressed and very groggy. I took her off that because I heard it was dangerous for the elderly.
When I try to turn off the tv, or radio, she gets agitated, saying "you won't even let me watch things." etc. I have tried hiding things that may trigger her, but she wants them back.
I don't know your grandmother's history. I have had a couple of serious bouts of panic disorder, so I know her discomfort. My systolic blood pressure would go up to 160 when I was panicking. The good thing was it returned to normal when I calmed. So I feel it is important to get her calm. Panic attacks are often accompanied by a feeling of dread or impending doom. What causes this, I don't know. It may be that she is putting religious significance on those feelings, even if they play not real part in the feeling.

I feel that your grandmother needs a complete vascular and neurological checkup. Panic attacks can be triggered by something going on with the heart. It may be that this has nothing to do with your grandmother's anxiety, but it would be good for someone to have a good look. It also would be handy if she could have a PET scan during a time she was having an episode to see if there could be any seizure activity going on. Certain types of seizures can have behavioral characteristics that make me think of what you described.

I wonder about the obsessive behavior of writing the Bible verses. No, I don't think that the Bible is obsessive. But if she is feeling pressure to perform tasks involving writing the passages, etc., it may indicate something is going on there.

So, I would suggest a thorough examination. Oftentimes physicians only look superficially and miss things that could be going on. It may be nothing but anxiety, since anxiety can cause so many symptoms. If it is panic disorder and your mother is of an age that addiction is not an issue, a small dose of Xanax, instead of Ativan, could be better. Xanax has a slight antidepressant effect and doesn't cause as much drowsiness as Ativan does. It used to be the drug of choice for panic attacks. Your doctor will know if it may be right for your grandmother.
My grandmother had complete testing, with ct scan of the brain, mri, blood tests, etc. in may of last year. nothing serious was found. she was in the hospital for a week.
Tonight was scary, she had an Ativan .5 around 2:30 pm and then I gave her a metoprolol 25mg around 8:30 pm.(her usual BP med) at 10:00, it looked like she kind of passed out, and it was almost like her eyes crossed for a minute, but she woke up, and was able to see and talk to me.

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