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Q: I was the victim of domestic violence two years ago. I know I need therapy to help deal with the panic attacks, but I can’t afford to pay for it. How can I get help? – Kim W.
First off, Kim, know that you’re not alone. Panic attacks are a common, though definitely unpleasant, side effect of experiencing trauma. Six million American adults experience them every year according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), and women are twice as likely to experience them as men. Luckily, the ADAA also says panic attacks are “highly responsive to treatment.” Good for you for wanting to reach out and get help overcoming your trauma. The key, as you pointed out, is finding that treatment.
In the midst of a panic attack, there are some therapeutic techniques you can practice at home, such as a progressive muscle relaxation technique we talked about in this previous Ask Amanda column for another survivor facing panic attacks. But getting to the root of the problem, aka, addressing the trauma that’s leading to the panic attacks, is also instrumental in helping to stop them.
Brian Pinaro, vice president of development and strategic initiatives for the National Domestic Violence Hotline and LoveisRespect.org, says to consider contacting a domestic violence shelter near you. Most shelters will be able to help connect you with free or low-cost counseling options, either with a certified counselor or one of their trained domestic violence advocates. They may also offer support groups for survivors facing anxiety, depression or other post-traumatic symptoms.
“Any time you’ve been through something traumatic, knowing that being around other people also affected can be tremendously helpful in the process of recovery,” Pinaro says.
Here are a few other resources that may help:
Network of Care offers information about free or low-cost community treatment services for mental health issues in a handful of states.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration can help you find mental health providers and treatment facilities near you. It doesn’t hurt to call and ask about a sliding scale payment (fees that are based on your income) or other special payment arrangements. You can also search on GoodTherapy.org or at Psychology Today’s Therapy Directory. It is important to find someone who is experienced in working with trauma victims, so include that in your search or questions asked to any referral source.
You may also want to see if your state’s Crime Victim Compensation Program will reimburse you for the cost of receiving counseling. Read more about how that works in “What is Crime Victim Compensation?” And there is also this helpful list that includes 18 additional ideas on starting over financially.
Ask Amanda is meant to offer helpful resources and information about domestic violence. If in crisis, please reach out to your nearest domestic violence shelter for the guidance of a trained advocate.
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