Monday, December 5, 2022

How To Talk Someone Through A Panic Attack

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Focus On Taking Action

How to help your friend during a panic attack – BBC

Try these suggestions:

  • Remind your friend to take slow, deep breaths. Do this controlled breathing with them. This can often help, as they may start to mirror your actions.
  • Ask them to count backwards slowly from 100.
  • Help them to get comfortable.
  • Ask them to name five things they can see, hear, smell or feel.
  • Reassure them that theyre experiencing panic and that it will go away.
  • If, after 2030 minutes, the symptoms are continuing or have become worse, call 000.

Avoid saying things like Dont worry over and over. You might mean well, but your friend may not find your words helpful in the moment.

Put The Head Between The Knees

You may ask the person to sit on the bed, with their legs off one side, and lower their head to be between their knees, just lightly, not tightly held or anything. Alternatively, if they are sitting on the ground, they may pull up their knees slightly and then lean forward to lower their head between their knees.

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Write Out The Facts And Mantras On An Index Card And Keep It On You

One of the tools that has helped me is knowing that even the most vicious panic attack cant kill me. Dr. Rodriguez recommends writing this fact down on an index card or in your phone to read when you feel one coming on. Panic attacks are not life-threatening, she says. Write this down. And maybe add the note to yourself, You have survived panic attacks before. You will survive this one.

Dr. Prakash Masand, founder of the Center for Psychiatric Excellence, recommends writing down some positive mantras to get you out of a catastrophic thought pattern. Or better yet, prepare your own. When you have the negative thoughts of gloom and doom, write down some positive and more realistic rebuttals.

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Learn To Recognize The Signs Of Anxiety

Anxiety disorder is the most common mental health condition in the United States, affecting up to 18% of the population. Knowing the signs of anxiety can help you realize when someone you love is having fearful thoughts or feelings. Symptoms vary from person to person but can be broken into three categories:

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Occupy Your Mind Or Focus On The Something Pleasant

Well

Occupy your mind with an absorbing task: outline the sociology chapter you just read for class tomorrow put on you headphones and listen to that new CD everyone is talking about start researching the paper thats not due for two more weeks! Or simply focus on the present, on concrete objects around you, making a game of noticing details of every object you see.

During a panic attack, your mind is consumed with catastrophic thoughts about whats happening to your body, or about imagined disasters to come. These catastrophic thoughts provide the fuel for further anxiety. To de-fuel anxiety, you need to interrupt the catastrophic thoughts. Distracting yourself by thinking about something else is one way to do that.

Listen to music, phone a close friend, invent a delicious daydream, recall a happy time in your life in great detailanything to focus your mind on whats happening in the environment rather that on your body on whats happening in the present rather than in the future on something other than disaster. Youll interrupt the spiraling of anxiety and can eliminate, sometimes even prevent, the symptoms of a full-blown panic.

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What Not To Say To Someone Suffering From A Panic Disorder

This is as important as what you should tell them, or maybe more. You should avoid anything that can worsen the situation. Here are some simple guidelines for donts.

Dont say:

  • Dont entertain negative thoughts.
  • You are just making this up.
  • Youre blowing it out of proportion.

You mustnt trivialize their state, embarrass them, talk them down, or minimize their experience by bringing up yours. Your condescending behavior can worsen the situation by increasing their feeling of being isolated, helpless, and ashamed.

This may make them not reach out to you for help the next time they have a similar episode.

For a person suffering from panic attacks, too much positivity may not work well. It is more important to stay with them and reassure them with your presence and willingness to help in any way they want.

Slow Down Your Breathing

Take a Time out and slow down. Slow your rate of breathing, slow your racing slow thoughts, your entire body, head to toe. Then slowly resume your previous activities.

When you panic, your body, your mind, your emotionsliterally everythingspeeds up. And you feel out of control. Deliberately reversing the process, starting with your head and moving downward from there, not only slows you downthe exact opposite of panic it puts you back in charge.

Picture a person you trust, someone who believes in you, supports you and cares about your well-being. Now imagine that person is with you, offering encouragement. Panic attacks often reflect feelings of being alone, bereft and fearful of your ability to cope on your own. Remembering, and experiencing, the presence of another can relieve those feelings of abandonment. So let someone you trust Take you by the handand let your panic slip away.

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Use Your Smartphone For Distraction

My Words With Friends addiction is a tad out of control, but it sure comes in handy when Im feeling eclipsed by panic.

Games like crossword puzzles and word searches , says Dr. Masand. The idea is it can act as a distraction to the fear or the body symptoms of anxiety. Our smartphones offer a plethora of great coping tools and this is something the majority of us already carry with us. Download some games that will distract you and get your mind off of the unpleasant symptoms you are feeling. You can also download relaxing music and guided relaxation sessions.

Try To Figure Out What May Have Triggered It

How To Calm Down During A Panic Attack

The sooner you can figure out what may have triggered the attack, the sooner you can help them end it. Triggers can be anything from an event, a sound, a word, a conversation, and more. If you figure out the trigger, help them rationalize their thoughts. Most likely, the trigger sent them down an infinite tightening spiral of thoughts, so do your best to help them slow down. Also, ask why it made them feel that way because it will help them pinpoint the reason behind the trigger themselves rather than you just telling them.

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Panic Disorder In Children

Panic disorder is more common in teenagers than in younger children.

Panic attacks can be particularly hard for children and young people to deal with. Severe panic disorder may affect their development and learning.

If your child has the signs and symptoms of panic disorder, they should see a GP.

After taking a detailed medical history the GP will carry out a thorough physical examination to rule out any physical causes for the symptoms.

They may refer your child to a specialist for further assessment and treatment. The specialist may recommend a course of CBT for your child.

Screening for other anxiety disorders may also be needed to help find the cause of your child’s panic attacks.

Provide Space If Needed

Anxiety and stress affect every person differently. One person with anxiety and experiencing a panic attack might feel comforted and grounded by having someone to talk to, and someone else might not.

Your friends or family members might feel better grounded by being given more space. The intensity of the panic attack might make talking too overwhelming.

Reassure your loved one that youre available but give them the space they need to push through the panic attack themselves if that helps them best.

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What To Tell Someone Experiencing Panic Disorders

The sense of hopelessness is the overpowering emotion for a person having a panic attack. You can help by saying positive and encouraging words.

  • You can do it.
  • I am right here with you. We will get you through this.
  • Its not as scary or dangerous as you feel.
  • You are doing great. Keep it up.
  • I am so proud of you.

These may be simple words but to a person suffering from a panic attack, these are like the proverbial last straws that can make a difference between life and death.

Your words together with supportive action can help a person feeling anxious by:

  • Bringing down the level of anxiety and fear
  • Reduce the intensity of their confusion state
  • Avoid the situation from worsening

As the person displays signs of improvement, you can:

  • Urge them to continue doing the same actions
  • Stay with them and help them with the recovery
  • Avoid speeding up the recovery process
  • Allow them to recover at their own pace
  • Stay calm during the entire episode. Dont panic.
  • All the while, be aware of your own feelings and reactions.
  • If you are feeling distressed, tell yourself that this will get over soon.
  • Take good care of yourself so that you will be in a position to help the other person.

Helping To Manage A Panic Attack

Pin on No More Panic Attack

We have outlined a few options to help a loved one reach a state of calm while experiencing a panic attack. Please know that NAMI does not endorse any particular suggestion provided below. If someone you know is experiencing a panic attack, they may become very anxious and might not be thinking clearly. You may be able to help them by doing the following:

  • Stay in communication with them speak calmly and gently in short, simple sentences.
  • Ask if there is medicine the person usually takes during a panic attack.
  • Don’t make assumptions about what your loved one needs, ask them.
  • Help your loved one slow their breathing by breathing with them. Speaking slowly in a reassuring tone, say: Were going to focus on your breathing right now.Just do your best to take a slow, deep breath in through your nose. Hold that breath for a moment Now slowly exhale through your mouth. Now another slow, deep breath in. Hold it And again, slowly exhale through your mouth.
  • If the panic attack continues, ask: Has this happened to you in the past? What has helped you in the past?
  • If your loved one is unable to identify what has worked in the past, offer help in a way that gives them agency. Example: I know a technique that helps with panic attacks. Would you like to try the technique with me?

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How To Help Someone With A Panic Attack Over Text

See a GP if youve been experiencing symptoms of panic disorder.

Theyll ask you to describe your symptoms, how often you get them, and how long you have had them.

They may also carry out a physical examination to rule out other conditions that could be causing your symptoms.

It can sometimes be difficult to talk about your feelings, emotions and personal life, but try not to feel anxious or embarrassed.

You may be diagnosed with panic disorder if you have regular and unexpected panic attacks followed by at least a month of continuous worry or concern about having further attacks.

Support Them To Seek Help

If you think your friend or family member’s anxiety is becoming a problem for them, you could encourage them to seek treatment by talking to a GP or therapist. You could:

  • Offer to help them arrange a doctor’s appointment. If they are scared of leaving the house, you could suggest they ring their GP to find out if they will do home visits and telephone appointments.
  • Offer support when they attend appointments. You could offer to go with them to their appointments and wait in the waiting room. You can also help them plan what they’d like to talk about with the doctor. See our page on talking to your GP for more information.
  • Help them seek help from a therapist. See our page on how to find a therapist for more information.
  • Help them research different options for support, such as community services or peer support groups such as those run by Anxiety UK and No Panic. See our useful contacts page for more information. You could also call Mind’s Infoline to find out more about local services.

See our page on helping someone else seek help for more information.

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Occupy Your Mind Or Focus On Something Pleasant

Occupy your mind with an absorbing task: outline the sociology chapter you just read for class tomorrow put on you headphones and listen to that new CD everyone is talking about start researching the paper thats not due for two more weeks! Or simply focus on the present, on concrete objects around you, making a game of noticing details of every object you see.

During a panic attack, your mind is consumed with catastrophic thoughts about whats happening to your body, or about imagined disasters to come. These catastrophic thoughts provide the fuel for further anxiety. To de-fuel anxiety, you need to interrupt the catastrophic thoughts. Distracting yourself by thinking about something else is one way to do that.

Listen to music, phone a close friend, invent a delicious daydream, recall a happy time in your life in great detailanything to focus your mind on whats happening in the environment rather that on your body on whats happening in the present rather than in the future on something other than disaster. Youll interrupt the spiraling of anxiety and can eliminate, sometimes even prevent, the symptoms of a full-blown panic.

Should I Call A Panic Attack Helpline

Calm a Panic Attack in 3 Easy Steps

If you have a friend or loved one who is struggling with anxiety, panic disorder hotlines can be a valuable resource for you to ask questions and learn more about anxiety and panic disorders.

Most panic attack helplines are free and confidential, which makes them an excellent way to reach out for help. It is normal to feel hesitant about asking for help, especially if youre unsure that what you are experiencing is truly a panic attack. But the people who staff panic attack hotlines are sympathetic and nonjudgmental. Their job is to provide people like you with the information and resources you need to get better.

If you have a friend or loved one who is struggling with anxiety, panic disorder hotlines can be a valuable resource for you to ask questions and learn more about anxiety and panic disorders. Many people call panic attack helplines because they are worried about someone they love, but they dont know exactly what is wrong.

Panic hotlines offer different kinds of support and resources. Some will lend an empathetic ear, while others help connect you to mental health treatment resources. People call panic attack helplines for many different reasons, including:

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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.

When To Seek Help

A significant percentage of panic attacks include chest pain as a symptom, making it challenging to distinguish from a heart attack or other medical illnesses when they first emerge. If you are unsure whether someone is having a panic attack or something more medically serious, contact a healthcare provider immediately to rule out any potentially life-threatening illnesses.

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Treatment Options For Patients With Anxiety

There are two primary treatments for individuals with anxiety:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy , which involves learning how to lower anxiety and face distressing situations.
  • Medication management with antidepressants, which works well on its own but even better when coupled with CBT.

During therapy, continue to show your support by:

  • Asking your loved one what you can do to help them.
  • Asking if you can attend a therapy session to learn some skills to better support them.
  • Making time for your own life and interests to sustain your energy.
  • Encouraging your loved one to try another therapist if the first one isnt a good fit.

How Do You Calm Someone With Anxiety

How to deal with a panic attack during a pandemic

If you want to calm someone with anxiety:

Do remind them that they are not obliged to stay in the place they are.

Do assure them there is nothing to be afraid of and they are in a safe place.

Do tell them this shall pass, it is only temporary.

Do encourage them to breathe and try helping them synch their breathing pattern with yours.

Do attempt to have an engaging conversation with them that can distract them from the panic attack.

Do stay with them throughout the panic attack unless they explicitly say they dont.

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