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What To Do If Someone Is Having A Panic Attack

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Talk About The Attack After They Have Calmed Down

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

Anxiety and panic attacks do not last long. Some last for only 5 minutes, others for 30 minutes. The good news is that they eventually pass. When your loved one has calmed down, it is time to find a long-lasting solution to their attacks.

Be compassionate and non-judgmental in your inquiry. Tell them that you are concerned for their well-being. Ask them how long they have experienced anxiety and panic attacks. Find out whether they have identified their triggers.

Talking calmly can help you know what not to do when someone is having a panic attack. Ask your loved ones what works for them. They may have some calming techniques they prefer over others. They might give you insight into how to help them when they are in distress.

Is It Panic Disorder

If you feel constantly stressed and anxious, particularly about when your next panic attack may be, 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 .

“There’s no quick fix, but if your attacks are happening time after time, seek medical help,” says Professor Salkovskis.

Read more about panic attacks, including personal stories, at See Me Scotland.

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.

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Help Them Stay Grounded

Grounding techniques can have benefit for a range of anxiety issues, including panic attacks.

Grounding techniques can help contain panic attacks after they begin, explains Megan MacCutcheon, a therapist in Vienna, Virginia.

These techniques help the person focus on whats actually happening, not their fear of the attack. Theyre often most helpful once the intensity of the attack has faded a bit.

You Have No Reason To Be Nervous

What a panic attack feels and looks like : coolguides

Most likely, the person who is having the panic attack is aware that there is no reason to be anxious. When going through a panic attack, a persons fight-or-flight stress response is triggered, making their mind and body prepare for an actual or perceived threat.

Even if they are not in any real danger, they still may not be able to stop the attack from running its course. Reinforcing that the persons fear is unfounded can increase ones sense of anxiety.

Instead of bringing the lack of threat to their attention, try being a voice of encouragement. Use a soothing voice and simply remind them that you are there for them.

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Tips For Helping During A Panic Attack

Its estimated that about 2.7% of U.S. adults experience severe panic attacks in a year. This number doesnt include the folks who dont report attacks, and theres a good chunk of those folks. Some people dont even know what to call the experience.

Adults arent the only ones who suffer from panic attacks. Its known to affect teens and children, too. The reality is panic attacks happen, and it can be hard to help someone having an attack. The good thing is there are steps to take to reach the person going through this experience.

Signs And Symptoms Of Anxiety Disorders

In addition to the primary symptom of excessive and irrational fear and worry, other common emotional symptoms include:

  • Feelings of apprehension or dread.
  • Watching for signs of danger.
  • Anticipating the worst.
  • Irritability.
  • Feeling like your minds gone blank.

But anxiety is more than just a feeling. As a product of the bodys fight-or-flight response, it also involves a wide range of physical symptoms, including:

  • Pounding heart.
  • Shaking or trembling.
  • Insomnia.

Because of these physical symptoms, anxiety sufferers often mistake their disorder for a medical illness. They may visit many doctors and make numerous trips to the hospital before their anxiety disorder is finally recognized.

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Ways To Prevent Panic Attacks

“You need to try to work out what particular stress you might be under that could make your symptoms worse,” says Professor Salkovskis. “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
  • Regular exercise, especially aerobic exercise, will help you to manage stress levels, release tension, improve your mood and boost confidence
  • Eat regular meals to stabilise your blood sugar levels
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and smoking these can make panic attacks worse. Panic support groups have useful advice about how you can effectively manage your attacks. Knowing that other people are experiencing the same feelings can be reassuring. Your GP can put you in touch with groups in your area
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy can identify and change the negative thought patterns that are feeding your panic attacks

Do Not Try To Make Sense Of The Moment

What NOT To Say To Someone Who Is Having A Panic Attack

Anxiety and panic attacks do not make sense. Trying to understand why they happen will frustrate you and your loved one. The person experiencing the attack may not understand why it is happening.

Do not spend time trying to get to the bottom of the matter. Instead, work on helping them to overcome it. Once they are calm, you can look into the causes and triggers of the attack.

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Offer Support In A Helpful Way

When people receive treatment for anxiety disorders, their clinicians often give them homework assignments or coping mechanisms to help them manage their anxiety. It could be something like deep breathing, for example.

Some of what you offer is help focusing. I am here for you. What did the therapist say to do? Hudak said. Give support and redirection.

What Might The Treatment Process Be For Cardiac Arrest

Resuscitation Council UK stresses how important it is for every step in the chain of survival to be put in place:

  • The early recognition of a cardiac arrest.
  • Early CPR.
  • Early defibrillation.
  • Access to post-resuscitation care.

The aims of post-resuscitation care are to optimise a person’s ventilation and circulation, preserve their organ and tissue function, and maintain their blood glucose levels.

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What Do You Say To Someone Who Is Having A Panic Attack

You can use short and positive statements to help someone who is having a panic attack such as:

I am so proud of you, you are doing an excellent job

You will get through this

Tell me if you need anything now

Focus on your breathing, lets do it together

Remember is not the place but the thoughts you are having that are making you feel this way

I know it is scary but it is not going to hurt you

Would You Be Willing To Try Doing The Opposite Of What Your Brain Wants You To Do


Sometimes its best not to follow your instincts.

People who have panic attacks often fear not only the symptoms, but also the effect that these symptoms might have on their functioning, Dr. Siegel explains. For instance, they may believe that theyll lose control and embarrass themselves in front of others if they dont leave when panicking in public. Or they may think that they might pass out if they get up from the floor and walk around. In other words, their brains may be telling them to leave quickly or stay put.

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In these cases, it can be really helpful to see what happens if they do the exact opposite and stay put or get up and walk around , Dr. Siegel adds. This helps drive home the idea that they do not need to let their anxiety dictate what they do or dont do even if they are having a panic attack.

Next, read about the 12 best apps for anxiety.

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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.

Using An Automated External Defibrillator

When a helper fetches a defibrillator, ask them to switch it on and take the pads out while you carry on performing CPR. Remove or cut through the casualty’s clothing and wipe away any sweat to attach the pads on their bare chest. The first pad should be on the upper right below the collar bone, with the second on the left side below the under arm. The voice of the defibrillator will instruct you with what to do.

The defibrillator will analyse the casualty’s heart rhythm and tell you when a shock is needed. You should tell others to stand back while you use the defibrillator. After the shock has been given, the defibrillator will tell you to continue CPR for two minutes before it re-analyses.

If the defibrillator tells you that a shock is not needed, continue with CPR for two minutes before the defibrillator re-analyses.

If the casualty begins to display signs of being responsive, such as coughing, opening their eyes, speaking, or normal breathing, put them in the recovery position. Leave the defibrillator attached and monitor their level of response, prepared to give CPR again if necessary.

What should you do if someone goes into cardiac arrest?

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When To Get Help

See a GP if you’ve been experiencing symptoms of panic disorder.

They’ll 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.

Why Is This Blog About How To Communicate With Someone Having A Panic Attack Important

How to Help Someone Having a Panic Attack

When communicating with someone having a panic attack it is important to remember to have a calm and peaceful tone of voice to give them reassurance that everything will be ok. Moreover, dont assume what they need but ask them. For instance, if they take medicine for the panic attacks ask them if they need it and how you can get it. However, remember it would be difficult to communicate clearly with them if they are having a panic attack. Be patient, supportive, and stay calm. Also, breathing is very important so try to shift their breathing pattern synching it to your breathing pattern by doing deep breathing exercises with them.

Remember, a panic attack is lived with intense fear which generates a lot of physical reactions and symptoms as well as thoughts that can make the person think they are about to die. Try to talk to them in a short and concise way, avoiding complicated questions that they may not be able to answer at that specific moment.

Please feel free to leave any comments or thoughts about the content of this article!

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

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Phobias And Irrational Fears

A phobia is an unrealistic or exaggerated fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that in reality presents little to no danger. Common phobias include fear of animals , fear of flying, and fear of heights. In the case of a severe phobia, you might go to extreme lengths to avoid the object of your fear. Unfortunately, avoidance only strengthens the phobia.

Focus On Action Over Words

A soothing, familiar voice helps some people, but try to avoid repeatedly saying things like dont worry or asking them if theyre alright over and over.

Of course you mean well, but your words may not have much benefit in the moment. They can also make the situation more stressful, since your loved one may believe theyre doing something wrong by not being alright.

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How To Tell If Its A Panic Attack

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.

What Causes Panic Attacks And Panic Disorder

How To Help Someone With A Panic Attack

The reason behind the attacks is not always clear but some people are more prone to developing panic attacks due to their family history. However, it is believed that someone who experiences a panic attack for the first time may have been exposed to constant stress in their day to day activities or they may have endured a painful, emotional, or traumatic experience.

According to Following the first attack, people with a panic disorder start to

pay more attention to their physical symptoms. They often start to become afraid of their own physical reactions. Once this happens, any change that produces a similar physical reaction such as exercise, strong emotion, or even a change in the temperature, can trigger a panic attack.

Many people will go to their doctor for a physical check-up and this will actually help them rule out any physical health problems that may have been undetected for quite some time. However, if your doctor is not able to find any physical problems you can remind yourself of this next time you are having a panic attack meaning you could face it in a different light. Acknowledge it, dont fight it.

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Anxiety Attack Symptoms Include:

  • Feeling of losing control or going crazy.
  • Heart palpitations or chest pain.
  • Feeling like youre going to pass out.
  • Trouble breathing or choking sensation.
  • Hyperventilation.
  • Nausea or stomach cramps.
  • Feeling detached or unreal.

Its important to seek help if youre starting to avoid certain situations because youre afraid of having a panic attack. The truth is that panic attacks are highly treatable. In fact, many people are panic free within just 5 to 8 treatment sessions.

Panic Attack Symptoms: How To Recognize One

Have you ever had an overwhelming, intense surge of fear and anxiety, which caused you to have feelings of chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, and or numbness? If so, you may have had a panic attack and if you did, trust me, you are not alone. Today, we’re going to talk about panic attack symptoms and how to know when it’s time to seek treatment.

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Engage In Light Exercise

Endorphins keep the blood pumping in exactly the right away. It can help flood our body with endorphins, which can improve our mood. Because youre stressed, choose light exercise thats gentle on the body, like walking or swimming.

The exception to this is if youre hyperventilating or struggling to breathe. Do what you can to catch your breath first.

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