What To Do If You Or Someone Is Having A Panic Attack?
How To Know You’re Having A Panic Attack
A panic attack is a discrete period of intense fear or discomfort that may arise whether a person is in a calm or anxious state. This period is characterized by a variety of both mental and physical symptoms. There are two types of panic attacks: situational and unexpected. Situational panic attacks come about from a particular scenario, such as public speaking, or anything else that causes individual anxiety. On the other hand, unexpected panic attacks as the name suggests, are spontaneous.
There is an array of reasons for a panic attack. These include, but are not limited to, a period of prolonged stress, the occurrence of stressful events, or a history of having a panic disorder. The symptoms and signs of a panic attack may resemble other conditions. It is recommended that individuals seek the assistance of health professionals to ensure that the symptoms they are experiencing aren’t actually being caused by other health problems. Seeking help from a mental health professional who specializes in anxiety disorders can also bring a lot of clarity.
Signs And Symptoms
While there are several other signs and symptoms of a panic attack, here are seven of the most common (and noticeable):
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Chills or heat sensation
- Increased heart rate or palpitations
- Fear of losing control or going crazy
- Abdominal distress
What To Do If You Are Having A Panic Attack
One of the scariest parts of a panic attack is not knowing that you are having one. When this happens, you might get so frightened that you make your panic attack worse and continue a vicious cycle. Below, there are several ways outlined that will significantly help individuals that may be experiencing one:
- Anticipate the waves of a panic attack and allow them to pass. The waves being referred to are the waves of symptoms, such as shortness of breath and dizziness. Trying to stop the panic attack and being unsuccessful makes the experience even more unpleasant. Ride it out.
- Take deep breaths to eliminate the out of body feeling. Decrease your rapid heartbeat that accompanies some panic attacks. There are a number of deep-breathing exercises that may come in handy, so here’s a quick recommendation: Alternate between inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth slowly, for counts of 6.
- Rubbing your hands and feet on a surface such as on a couch. This will help to make you feel present.
- Placing an ice cube in a paper towel and squeezing it in one hand and then alternating. This is supposed to achieve the same goal as number three above.
- Talking to yourself through the panic attack should make it a little easier to deal with. Doing tasks, such as chores or crossword puzzles, in an attempt to activate the thinking section of the brain, can help to regulate the emotional side, which is believed to be enabling the panic attack.
What To Do When Someone Is Having A Panic Attack
It can be scary and heart-breaking to see a loved one suffering and not know how to help. The main issue is actually knowing when they are having a panic attack. As you may have noticed, the signs and symptoms of a panic attack can be similar to other serious medical conditions. A good idea would be to take them to the hospital to be on the safe side. In addition to that, some of the indicators may not be as noticeable as chest pain and heart palpitations. However, if you are aware that your loved one suffers from panic attacks you may try these techniques:
- Gently remind them that they are having a panic attack and it will pass.
- Remind them to breathe
- Help them to distract themselves. It has been suggested that counting backward from 100 is a good method to try.
- Make them comfortable by getting them to sit or lie down.
Treatment Options For Panic Attacks
While some people may only experience one panic attack in their lives, some may experience several. Treatment is usually recommended for people who experience them frequently or who may be in constant fear of experiencing one. Seek out a mental health professional who specializes in anxiety as mentioned before. If you do see a mental health professional, they may employ Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is a common treatment technique used to treat anxiety disorders and panic attacks. In addition to that, there are several online tools that can help you with tips and tricks.
Panic attacks are surprisingly not uncommon. If you ever experience one or see someone else experience it hopefully these tips will help you to defuse the situation.
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