Tuesday, July 16, 2024

How To Comfort Someone Having A Panic Attack

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Lessons From The Different Therapeutic Approaches

How to Alleviate Panic Attacks : How to Help Someone Having a Panic Attack

Panic attacks are treated in different ways depending on the treating doctors or therapists philosophy or approach. People in a support role can better understand panic attacks and better support those who experience them by educating themselves on how panic attacks are treated.

First, a note on medication of panic attacks and panic disorder: medication can be helpful in the treatment of panic attacks, but typically it only addresses the symptoms of the disorder. Often, panic attacks have a root cause or trigger, and these issues are not addressed by medication, which is why talk therapy is often recommended in conjunction with or prior to going on medication.

Now, well go through a few useful therapeutic frameworks and skills we can offer people who might experience panic attacks.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is one of the most common and well-researched therapeutic approaches for panic disorder. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy aims to look at the cycles, both positive and negative, that contribute to symptoms like anxiety and panic attacks. Here are some examples of interventions that could be introduced into these cycles to improve functioning:

  • Relaxation Techniques: Relaxation exercises aim to help a person focus their attention on their breath, body, or surrounding environment and away from whatever anxious or panicked thoughts they may be experiencing. Heres an example of a simple breathing exercise anyone can learn or offer to others in times of crisis:

How Not To Help Someone Having A Panic Attack

As we’ve already established, witnessing someone going through a severe anxiety episode;can be;upsetting and overwhelming especially if it’s new to you. However, our tips above should explain to;you how to help someone having a panic attack.

Likewise, there are a couple of;things you should definitely try to avoid doing:

  • Do not tell the person;to relax or to calm down.Unfortunately, the person going through the panic attack has little;control over their symptoms. If they could calm down, they certainly would. Saying this phrase is only likely to agitate them more.;;
  • Do not encourage them to breathe into a paper bag.This technique is often suggested to try and get a person’s breathing back to normal. However, this;might not be safe. Instead, encourage the deep;breathing method outlined above.
  • The Unofficial Dos And Donts Of Being Around Someone With An Anxiety Disorder

    Frequently on the Internet I see various articles for sufferers of anxiety or panic disorders about how to deal with anxiety or panic attacks while theyre happening. What I see less often is articles with information for friends and family of a sufferer on how to help them. It certainly shouldnt be anyone elses responsibility to fix the problem because that can only truly be done by the person whos experiencing the anxiety. But the easiest way for a person to overcome anxiety or panic is having someone they are completely comfortable with around them someone that can assure them everything is going to be okay.

    Ive been fortunate enough to clear up a lot of my issues thanks to these points and additional lifestyle changes like diet and exercise. Based on my experience talking with others, many people can relate. Please know I am not a doctor, and if you think you or someone else is having serious issues with anxiety or panic disorders, seek professional medical advice. I just write these tips based on my own experience.

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    Things You Shouldn’t Do

    Donât try to minimize it. Understand that the panic you see is real to your friend, even if the cause may not appear rational to you.

    Donât be judgmental or critical. Blaming someone for a panic attack doesnât help. Donât try to talk them out of it, either.

    If you know what causes your friend’s attacks, donât help them avoid the situation. Escape now could be harmful later. It could make the anxiety worse and raise the odds for more attacks. They may also become reliant on you to shield them from their fears.

    Ask Them To Focus On Their Breathing

    ASMR Voice: Comfort for an anxiety or panic attack [M4A ...

    One of the most common and easy to spot signs of a panic attack is rapid and heavy breathing. If you think the person is able to understand you, try encouraging them to take slow, controlled breaths for at least two minutes.;

    A common misconception with handling a panic attack is to ask the person to breathe into a paper bag but this can be dangerous, and its important that you dont ask anyone to do this.;

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    Why Do Panic Attacks Happen

    Panic attacks can happen to anyone, without any obvious cause or warning. They can be extremely alarming both for the person experiencing the attack and anyone trying to help

    Exams increase stress and children and teenagers up and down the country will be sitting in exams halls, waiting to hear the famous words you can turn your papers over now.; For some, exams cause no problems at all, many just get butterflies, but for some, the fear of exams can result in full blown panic attacks. .

    Certain times of life can make people more prone to panic attacks, often those going through menopause experience them and early Alzheimers can also result in a higher incidence. Increased stress and overload can often be a contributory factor. However, there does not need to be any obvious reason sometimes, they just happen!

    How To Help Someone Breathe During A Panic Attack

    When a person is experiencing a panic attack, it is important that they get their breathing under control. Someone trying to help should not give them a paper bag to inhale and exhale from, as this could make them pass out.

    Instead, it is better not to bring attention to their breathing and to keep calm and breath normally so that they can mirror this pattern. This method should hopefully get their breathing back under control.

    Helping someone who is having a panic attack can be very stressful, so it is important that a person is mindful of what actions could make a panic attack worse.

    Actions that could make a panic attack worse include:

    • Saying âcalm downâ: While getting a person to talk is vital, phrases such as âcalm down,â âdonât worry,â and âtry to relaxâ could make the symptoms worse.
    • Becoming irritated: Remain patient to help a person deal with a panic attack and do not belittle their experience. The focus should be on them, for however long it takes the symptoms to pass.
    • Making assumptions: Always ask a person what help they need, rather than assuming or guessing the correct advice.

    While a panic attack can happen very suddenly, the person will often experience warning signs. These may include:

    • shortness of breath
    • feelings of terror or dread
    • shaking and dizziness

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    Think Of Positive Mantras

    Yes, panic attacks can leave you feeling pretty crummy physically. But they can also have quite the mental affect, too. You might feel that depression I was talking about, or a sense of embarrassment You might even feel some intense brain fog. If any of that’s the case, it can help to think positive thoughts. As Star said, “… try using positive self-talk and affirmations to enhance your mood and gain a sense of control.” Thinking along the lines of “I am in control of my anxiety” can help.

    How To Tell If Its A Panic Attack

    How to Overcome Panic Attacks

    Before you can help a person who is having a panic attack, you need to know if its because of fear or anxiety theyre experiencing or if theres a physical explanation.

    Here are 10 symptoms of panic attacks to look for:

    IMPORTANT NOTE: Do these symptoms look familiar? Theyre also signs of cardiac distress. Its difficult to know if a person is experiencing a panic attack or a heart attack.

    The best thing to do is ask if the person has had a panic attack before. If they havent and they dont think theyre having one now, call 9-1-1 and follow physical first aid protocol. If the person loses consciousness, call an ambulance, check for breathing and pulse and apply physical first aid principles. You can also check for a medical alert bracelet or necklace for more information.

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    A Panic Disorder Can Cause Someone To Experience Intense Anxiety That Is Difficult To Control However You Can Help A Friend Cope With A Panic Attack In Several Ways

    With over a decade of editing experience, Tom is a content specialist for Advanced Recovery Systems,… read more

    Many people deal with bouts of anxiety so intense that it causes them to feel terror when no real danger exists. Individuals who consistently experience panic may be grappling with panic disorder.

    According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, panic attacks are a telltale symptom of panic disorder. They typically bring about dizziness, a rapid heartbeat and breathing difficulties. They can happen anywhere, anytime and without warning.

    Having a friend or loved one with panic disorder can be frightening for both you and the individual experiencing the anxiety. However, learning how to help someone with panic disorder can ease their symptoms.

    Instead Say: Ive Noticed Youve Been Anxious A Lot Lately And Im Concerned

    If you notice your friend getting more and more anxious and you know they havent sought any kind of professional help, its OK to express your concern if it comes from the heart. Focus on how youve seen the anxiety change them: maybe they arent going to concerts anymore even though they used to love live music, or they havent been socializing as much and youre worried about them being lonely. If theyre open to getting help but feel overwhelmed, offer to do some research on good therapists or to wait for them in the lobby during their first appointment. Remind them that anxiety is treatable, even without medication, and that this isnt something they have to fight alone.

    If someone confides in you that theyre feeling anxious or having a panic attack, the most important thing to remember is that the feelingsand telling you about themare;a big deal. It takes trust to show that kind of vulnerability. Listen and respond in a way that doesnt minimize their experience.

    There are definitely times when I havent been heard, when my anxiety has been dismissed or questioned. Ive been subjected to jokes about how me and my fellow Millennials are the Xanax generation or how Im only anxious because U.S. culture is in an age of anxiety, as though everyone feels exactly as I do;so I should just suck it up.

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    Dont Say: Why Arent You Seeing A Therapist/on Medication

    Theres nothing wrong with showing concern for a friend, but be careful it doesnt come across as accusatory. Suggesting your friend should be doing something can create a sense of shame if they arent, or make them feel like theyre being judged. If they do need to see a counselor or take medication, those are decisions they need to make on their own and at their own pace.

    How To Talk To Your Friend About Getting Treatment

    How to Your Partner During a Panic Attack

    Mental health disorders like panic disorder can make completing everyday tasks difficult for many people. However, some individuals with panic disorder avoid treatment. They may fear the stigma associated with treatment. In other cases, they might not think that they need treatment.

    However, treating a mental health condition is important to help people better control their psychological distress. If you believe that your friend could benefit from treatment, start a non-confrontational conversational with them. Be sure to start this discussion when your friend feels safe and comfortable.

    According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, you could ask or tell them:

    • Ive been worried about you. Can we talk about what you are experiencing?
    • How can I help you find more information about mental health problems?
    • It seems like you are going through a difficult time. How can I help you to find help?

    Also consider researching the benefits of treatment for panic disorders. Afterward, talk to your friend about how treatment can help them cope with their panic disorder. If your friend is dealing with panic disorder and substance abuse, treatment is particularly important because it can reduce the chances of an overdose.

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    What Is A Panic Disorder

    According to the DSM-5, a person must have recurrent and often unexpected panic attacks and at least one of these attacks needs to be followed by one or more attacks or the fear of more attacks.

    This is a disorder that requires a professional diagnosis. This will help rule out other causes of some symptoms like: drug use, medication side effects, other mental disorders such as phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder , etc.

    Panic disorder often begins in the late teens or early adulthood. More women than men have the disorder. But not everyone who experiences panic attacks will develop the disorder.

    Having experienced one panic attack is usually a sign that a person can expect to have more. Worry about panic attacks, and the effort spent trying to avoid attacks, can cause significant problems in various areas of life.

    A person with panic disorder may experience interference with their everyday life and activities due to panic attacks. For example, they may spend time worrying about future panic attacks. Many people will also actively try to prevent future attacks by avoiding places, situations, or behaviors they associate with panic attacks. Additionally, many people with the disorder deal with loneliness and isolation.

    If you want to learn more about panic attacks and the disorder, we suggest you take a look at our panic disorder page.

    Try Talking To Them Gently

    Let them know that youre there for them, and that they are safe. They might not answer you, but if they do then you can ask them what you can do to help.;

    Try not to take it personally if their response isnt necessarily friendly or helpful remember that theyre unlikely to be aware of what theyre saying or how theyre coming across to you.;;

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    What Strategies Best Help You When You Are Feeling Anxious

    During a panic attack, anxiety sufferers may not remember what to do, such as taking deep breaths, and focusing on each breath. Or he or she may forget that taking an anti-anxiety medication will help. Asking what normally helps can remind them of what to do. Then help him or her take the needed steps to calm the attack.

    During A Panic Attack

    Comforting Someone Experiencing a Panic Attack

    Assuming youve had a conversation like the one discussed above, you will have some awareness of what the person needs while theyre in the midst of a panic attack. If thats the case, do your best to follow those identified needs.

    However, I can also offer you some general guidelines of what NOT to do:

    Positive things you can do for someone in the midst of a panic attack:

    • You can ask them if they want to go outside or go for a walk with you.
    • You can ask if you can help them.
    • You can offer to guide them through a coping skill, such as a breathing or mindfulness exercise discussed later in the article. The caveat here is that youve discussed these skill options with the person ahead of time. If you havent, the person may not feel these skills are helpful to them, even if they are helpful to others.
    • You can run interference for them. If you are co-workers, you can alert others , help them leave the premises, or take calls for them. If you are at a family or friend gathering, you can escort them to a more comfortable room or location.

    You can validate their experience, along with whatever theyre able to communicate. If they acknowledge they are having a panic attack, the following statements could be appropriate:

    I know this is scary but Im right here for you.

    Panic attacks pass and Ill be here with you until it does.

    Is there anything I can do to help you cope?

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    What To Say : With Scripts

    Picture yourself, at work, having a normal day. Maybe youre having lunch or a casual conversation with a co-worker. As you go on about your weekend plans, you notice a look of confusion come across your co-workers face. At first you might think nothing of it but as time goes on it becomes clear your co-worker is not simply preoccupied with the reports they have to file later today. They are clearly sweating and starting to breathe heavier but theyre not saying anything or bringing attention to how theyre feeling. You might even ask if they are okay, as they clearly become more distressed. They might try to pass it off as nothing or they might excuse themselves. What would you do?

    It is possible, even likely, that the coworker in this scenario has just experienced a panic attack.

    As a therapist, I have worked with hundreds of people experiencing a range of difficult emotional situations. As a result, I often find myself coaching my patients as well as their friends, families, and significant others on how to cope with these extreme emotion dysregulation events. I think its important to show some helpful scripts so people can see what works and what doesnt work for people when they are in the midst of a panic attack.

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