Thank you for your reply.
I can imagine how sad
and anxious this situation must seem to you and her parents.
Your 18 year old niece has been happy and athletic. She started having symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks without no apparent reason.
She doesn't drink alcohol and use any recreational drug.
She doesn't seem to have (or she is not aware of) any stress from school.
There is a possibility she may be genetically vulnerable to anxiety if her parent(s) or family member has mood disorder.
Or, she might be unaware of some stress from school or friendship.
Medical reasons for anxiety and depression may include thyroid hormone abnormality, Vitamin B12 Deficiency, Chronic pain, Stroke
’s disease to name a few. Malnutrition/brain damage can dull mood further. Alcohol use may aggravate anxiety and depression. Some medication can cause or contribute to anxiety and depression.
I would advise her parents to take her to a psychotherapist to express and process her feelings and thoughts and get advice and support WEEKLY. A combination of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy are considered to be effective to treat anxiety. Cognitive-behvaior therapy (CBT) will work for anxiety and depression.
Her parents may ask her doctor for a psychologist/psychotherapist that she can work with weekly for a few months until her symptoms improve. Or they may call her insurance company and get a list of providers (licensed psychologists or psychotherapists) in her area.
Or, they can search a licensed psychologist on internet- such as the PSYCHOLOGY TODAY website. Go to (http://therapists.psychologytoday.com/ppc/prof_search.php?iorb=4764) and enter your zip code and optional category of specialty such as anxiety/panic attacks. Read psychotherapists’ profile to see if he or she specializes in Cognitive-behavior therapy. You may also want to create your mental image of psychotherapist that she wants to work with – Male or female? To note, many therapists offer initial consultation for free. So they can see it as an informational meeting. They can ask any question and negotiate psychotherapy fee.
If they have no health insurance or seek a low fee counseling, they may call The United Way toll free # 211 (Dial 2-1-1)to find the community mental health centers in their area in which she can get counseling even without health insurance.
Also, a heart-healthy diet like Omega 3 fatty acid may improve her brain functioning and mood. Focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Choose low-fat protein sources, such as fish, lean meat and skinless poultry. Hydrate herself during daytime.
In addition, relaxation techniques such as yoga, biofeedback, acupuncture, and massage therapy may be helpful to reduce the intensity and frequency of her anxiety and panic attacks.
Other recommendations are:
Avoid use of alcohol and drugs.
Sleep in complete darkness and try to be out in bright light during the day.
Spend time in nature weekly
Try to have pleasurable activities with friends and family.
Choose to listen to sounds that have positive effects on her mood.
Set limits on the amount of time she spends on the internet to avoid information overload.
I hope your niece gets well with all available help.
Please let me know if you have more questions or I have overlooked any. Warm regards,