Panic attacks where a person suddenly experiences intense feelings of fear or danger, may be caused by a variety of psychological and emotional factors. When you try to help someone having a panic attack, you must follow certain guidelines to avoid making the situation worse.
Help someone having a panic attack
• Ask the person to describe, to the best of his abilities, what causes him to have a panic attack. This is the best way to eliminate the possibility that there is a real threat, or that the question is experiencing a serious medical condition such as a heart attack. Remember that a panic disorder can be caused by very real conditions, such as hypoglycemia, inner ear infections, and even congenital heart defects.
• Find out if the person is currently treated by a doctor for a panic disorder. She can use prescription medication combined with behavioral modification techniques to handle panic attacks. Once you know the methods that someone uses to treat her ailment, you can help her implement these methods.
• Do not dismiss or discredit the reasons why someone is having a panic attack. Sentences will that “there is nothing to worry about” or “it’s all in your mind” only serve to make the person feel more isolated and alone with his problems, aggravating the situation. Not justify the reasoning behind the panic attack, but still empathetic and accessible.
• Help someone has a panic attack by staying with him for the duration of the episode, which usually lasts about 10 minutes in most cases. Sit down for him and help him to relax by talking to him in a calm and relaxed manner. Ask him to “talk through” the situation that is causing him to have anxiety attacks. A person can often reduce feelings of anxiety and panic by just talking about them.
• Employ relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises or focused even physical activity like walking, to help a person to have a panic attack. This can help to reduce stress significantly as well as providing single something else to think about other than her fear.
Tips & Warnings
- Individuals who experience panic attacks often feel as if they have a heart attack or dying. It is important to determine as soon as possible if there is a real physical danger, which can be difficult. A trip to the emergency room can make panic attacks worse by increasing stress levels, but if there is any uncertainty as to whether there is an emergency condition, act anyway.