7 Proven Steps of Helping Someone Having a Panic Attack
If you know someone who has a panic disorder, then you clearly understand how disrupting and frightening this episode can be. A person experiencing a panic attack will have sudden feelings of terror that often come without any warning.
Moreover, repeated attacks will lead to intense anxiety between episodes particularly due to constant worries that another attack will occur. If you’re eager to know how to help someone having a panic attack, then it means you clearly understand how panic attacks negatively impacts your loved one’s life and wish to be as supportive as you can.
The most significant thing to remember is you’ll need to stay calm when someone experiences a panic attack to avoid making their anxiety even worse. These simple steps will help you offer support and help a loved one whenever such episodes occur so be sure to read on.
Step #1: Recognize the Situation
You may not be able to help someone if you don’t understand what a panic attack is and the common symptoms. A panic attack will arouse a person’s body to peak levels of excitement making them feel out of control of themselves.
It is characterized by fear of disaster even in the absence of real danger and can last somewhere between 5 minutes to one hour. Symptoms include complaints of dry mouth, choking sensation, rapid heartbeat, sweating, trembling, hot flashes and dizziness.
A person may equally complain of numbness in their fingers, abdominal cramping and having a headache.
Step #2: Ask the Most Important Questions
It may be hard for someone having a panic attack to focus clearly so ensure you only ask the most important questions.
Find out the cause of the attack though most people won’t be consciously aware of what the cause could be. If they don’t know why they experience a panic attack, do not be persistent – stop asking.
Step #3: Remove the Cause
It is imperative to either get rid of the trigger or take the person to a different area away from the trigger that caused the panic – preferably a calm and open place.
Never touch a person having a panic attack without obtaining permission as this may increase the panic and worsen the situation.
Step #4: Speak in a Calm Reassuring Voice
Much as this may be an uphill task, you’ll need to remain calm and reassure them that everything is okay. You’ll have to repeat these words and comfort them till the person feels comfortable and the physical symptoms will surely mellow down.
Use words like “You’ll be okay” rather than “Calm down” or “There’s no need to panic.”
Step #5: Take Deep Breaths
Breathing is one important exercise that will help your loved one eliminate physical and mental symptoms while allowing them to calm down. Have them sit down and listen to their breath.
It may be hard for them to take deep breaths at first so try counting breaths to encourage them to breathe. Moreover, you can offer your loved one a paper bag to breathe into if they are receptive.
Step #5: Keep them Cool
A person experiencing panic attacks may have sensations of warmth around the neck and face. Use a cold washcloth to help reduce this symptom and minimize the severity of the attack. If possible, let them drink a glass of cold water but make sure they’re sitting up first.
Step #6: Stay with Them
The most important thing to do for someone having a panic attack is staying with them unless they ask you otherwise. Never leave them alone. Much as they may seem rude and unfriendly, you need to understand what they’re going through and stay with them till they get back to normal. Ask about what has previously worked for them and when they take their meds.
Step #7: Seek Medical Help
This is one way of dealing with severe panic attacks especially if the symptoms do not go away within a few hours. Consider seeking medical advice even via call. If this is their first episode ever, they may want to see a doctor because they’re scared of what’s happening to them.
Wrapping it up
A professional therapist can be able to pinpoint what triggered the panic attack or at least help the person have a grasp of the situation psychologically. Let your loved one know the importance of therapy and encourage them to seek help.
Much as there are many different ways on how to help someone having a panic attack, these necessary steps will be able to provide the best solution and assist them in getting back to normal.