– How to Help Someone Who Is Having a Panic Attack
Panic attacks are a common problem for people who suffer from anxiety disorders. They can occur at any time, even during the day. The symptoms of a panic attack include feeling out of control, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, numbness, tingling, sweating, shaking, heart palpitations, and fear.
If someone you care about has a panic attack, here are some ways to help them.
What causes a panic attack?
A panic attack happens suddenly and unexpectedly. It usually starts in one part of the body, like the head or chest, and spreads quickly through other parts. People often describe experiencing intense feelings of fear, worry, and physical symptoms, including shortness of breath, dizziness, sweating, trembling, nausea, palpitations, numbness, and tingling sensations. The attacks last from several minutes to hours and tend not to recur during the same day. They don’t always involve thoughts of dying or losing control, although some people experience those thoughts at times.
Some medications used to treat depression may cause side effects that mimic panic attacks. These drugs include Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, such as Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, and Celexa; Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors antidepressants, such as Nardil, Parnate, Marplan and Selegeline; Selective Serotonin Reuptake Agents, such as Paxil, Effexor, and Wellbutrin XL; Tricyclics, such as Tofranil; and Noradrenalin reuptake inhibitors, such as Inderal LA.
Other conditions that could lead to a panic attack include thyroid problems, high blood pressure, migraines, epilepsy, diabetes, substance abuse, sleep apnea, chronic fatigue syndrome, posttraumatic stress disorder, bulimia nervosa, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Helping someone who is having a panic attack
Please encourage them to sit somewhere quietly where they can focus on their breath until they feel better.
It would help if you never encouraged someone to breathe into a paper bag during a panic attack. This isn’t recommended, and it might not be safe.
• Get involved. Find out what kind of community resources exist locally. Join groups like AA and NA. Contact local mental health organizations. These groups provide peer support and mutual understanding.
• Stay calm yourself. Breathe deeply and regularly. Take slow, deep breaths while focusing on your breathing. Use these tips to stay relaxed and focused throughout stressful times.
• Learn new skills. Read books or watch videos on self-help topics such as mindfulness meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnosis, yoga, tai chi, guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, biofeedback, and other methods. Talk to friends, relatives, or therapists who’ve been successful in overcoming similar challenges.
If you have any concerns over whether this person needs medical attention, call 999 immediately. If the situation has calmed down by then, contact an ambulance service directly using 111.
Panic Attacks Symptoms
Symptoms of a panic attack vary depending on what triggers your reaction. Some common causes include being under extreme emotional strain, feeling trapped, facing death or loss, hearing about something wrong happening to another person close to you, seeing someone else suffering, thinking about past traumatic events, and anticipating future threats.
People who have agoraphobia sometimes avoid places where they would generally go out – shopping centers, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, public transport, etc. Others avoid social situations, which means they won’t attend parties, weddings, funerals, family gatherings, work meetings, school functions, or even church.
When a panic attack occurs, most people will notice that they start slowly but become stronger and faster than usual within seconds. Their minds race, and they begin to sweat profusely. They may feel nauseous, faint, lightheaded, shaky, weak, hot, or cold.
Breathing exercise for panic attacks
If you’re breathing quickly during a panic attack, doing a breathing exercise can ease your other symptoms.
Breathe in as slowly, deeply and gently as you can through your nose. Breathe out slowly, deeply and gently through your mouth. Some people find it helpful to count steadily from one to five on each inbreath and each out-breath. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing
You should start to feel better in a few minutes. You may feel tired afterwards.
Ways to prevent panic attacks
“It’s important not to restrict your movements and daily activities.”
Doing breathing exercises every day will help to prevent panic attacks and relieve them when they are happening.
Eat regular meals to stabilize your blood sugar levels, alcohol smoking
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can identify and change the negative thought patterns feeding your panic attacks.
Is it a panic disorder?
If you constantly feel stressed and anxious, particularly about your next panic attack, you may have panic disorder.
People with panic disorder may avoid situations that might cause a panic attack. They may also fear and avoid public spaces (agoraphobia).
In addition, they often worry excessively about having another panic attack or being unable to control their symptoms if one occurs. People who experience frequent anxiety attacks can become very distressed by them. This distress is called anticipatory anxiety.
It’s normal for people experiencing an anxiety attack to think of the future as frightening. However, this thinking becomes excessive in someone with panic disorder.
The person will imagine many things happening in the future that is not
likely to happen. For example: “I’m going to die.”
If someone you care about has had a panic attack, you may want to help them by doing the following:
– Stay calm and try to keep your distance!