If you know somebody who suffers from a lot of stress and anxiety, you may very well be wondering how you can help someone who's having a panic attack.
Watching someone suffering an attack can be quite unsettling and emotionally troubling, particularly if you are not entirely sure what's going on and I know we'd all like to help someone get through their experience.
There are some very effective methods that can help end the panic, but for the moment there are some more immediate actions you can take.
So what can we actually do? How can we actually comfort them? What are the right things to say?
I found this particular article quite interesting and I think it goes some way towards lending an insight into the mindset of someone who suffers from panic and anxiety.
5 Things People With Anxiety Want You to Know About Panic Attacks
Imagine that in the course of your daily life — while in a meeting, eating in a restaurant or watching TV — you're gripped with panic. Your heart races, you can't breathe, your hands shake. You're certain you're dying.
Plenty of people don't have to imagine this: They've experienced it. This is what a panic attack often feels like. But there's far more to it than just the symptoms alone. Here's what you need to know about what it's really like to experience panic attacks.
Everybody experiences panic in a different way so don't assume you know what to do. Instead, the best course of action is simply to ask them what they would like.
The first thing you can do is learn to accept and understand but what the person is suffering is very real and true. It is not a figment of their imagination, is not a sign of weakness, it is actually something quite terrifying and uncontrollable because the entire mind and body is experiencing an extreme case of the fight or flight response.
Understanding this means that you can provide the necessary comfort and encouragement to help that person through their episode.
A common concern people have is that everyone is staring at them which can lead to feelings of embarrassment. So it's a good idea to move them away to a quiet space.
Use words of encouragement and remind them that a panic attack can never harm them and that nothing is physically wrong with them. This is because many people will assume they're having a stroke, or even dying. Reminding them that they are physically okay can help.
Typically when someone is suffering a lot of anxiety their breathing rate will increase rapidly and be very shallow, so encourage them to slow down their breathing, which in turn will help to encourage a sense of calm.
High levels of anxiety will affect a persons ability to think straight, so be concise and clear in your language and don't offer a range of choices as this will only confuse the situation.
You can find some additional helpful tips here.
Helping Someone During a Panic Attack
- Stay with the person and keep calm.
- Offer medicine if the person usually takes it during an attack.
- Move the person to a quiet place.
- Don't make assumptions about what the person needs. Ask.
- Speak to the person in short, simple sentences.
- Be predictable. Avoid surprises.
- Help the person focus by asking him or her to repeat a simple, physically tiring task such as raising his or her arms over the head.
- Help slow the person's breathing by breathing with him or her or by counting slowly to 10.
Hopefully you should now feel better prepared to know how to help someone who's having a panic attack. There's nothing to be afraid about. Just remember to be encouraging and accepting.
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Hi there, my name’s Greg and I’ve been helping people overcome stress, anxiety and panic attacks for over 10 years.
As a practicing hypnotherapist, I’ve seen many people overcome debilitating anxiety and start living happy, stress-free and enjoyable lives.
My hope is to inspire and help you as much as I can. So feel free to leave comments and questions.