Panic attacks can be a debilitating and terrifying experience for those who suffer from them. If you have a loved one, friend, or acquaintance who experiences panic attacks, understanding what they are and how to help them can be invaluable. In this article, we will go over the basics of panic attacks and offer useful tips on how to assist someone who is experiencing one.
II. Understanding Panic Attacks
Panic attacks are defined as sudden and intense surges of fear, terror, and discomfort that can be overwhelming and last for several minutes. The symptoms can include heart palpitations, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, and chest pain. Panic attacks can happen without any warning, and the triggers can vary from person to person.
Some common triggers for panic attacks can include stress, anxiety, trauma, phobias, and certain medications. It’s essential to understand that panic attacks are not a sign of weakness or irrational thinking, and they can happen to anyone at any time.
During a panic attack, a person may feel like they’re losing control, fear for their life, or experience a sense of impending doom. It’s crucial to understand that the experience can be terrifying and confusing, and it’s essential to be empathetic and patient with the affected person.
III. Creating a Calming Environment
One way to help someone going through a panic attack is to create a calming environment. This involves minimizing noise, dimming lights, and creating a peaceful atmosphere that can help soothe the person. You may also consider playing some calming music or using essential oils like lavender or chamomile that have been shown to have a calming effect on people.
By creating an environment that is conducive to relaxation and calming, you may be able to help the person feel more at ease and less anxious, which can help alleviate some of the symptoms of a panic attack.
IV. Breathing Techniques
During a panic attack, it’s crucial to remember that breathing can play a critical role in helping the person to calm down and regain control. One effective technique that can be used is diaphragmatic breathing, which involves focusing on deep and slow breaths from the belly.
Another useful technique that can be used is called box breathing, where the person takes a deep breath for a count of four, holds it for another four counts, exhales for four counts, and then holds their breath for another four counts. This breathing technique has been shown to be effective in reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation.
V. Help Them Feel in Control
When experiencing a panic attack, a person can feel like they have no control over the situation. It’s essential to remind the person that they are safe and loved, and that the panic attack is temporary and will pass. Helping them regain a sense of control over the situation can be instrumental in calming the person and reducing the intensity of the panic attack.
You can help the person regain a sense of control by asking them to focus on their breathing or by helping them identify a calming image or thought that can distract them from the panic.
VI. Offer Reassurance
Panic attacks can be scary and overwhelming for the affected person. It’s essential to reassure the person that what they’re experiencing is temporary, and that they are not alone. You can let them know that you’re there for them, and that you care about their wellbeing.
Be supportive and genuine in your approach, and let them know that they are not alone in their struggles. By offering reassurance, you can help reduce the intensity of the panic attack and help the person regain their composure.
VII. Encourage Therapy/Professional Help
While it’s essential to offer support and help to someone experiencing a panic attack, it’s also crucial to encourage them to seek professional help. A mental health professional, counselor, or therapist can help the person develop strategies and coping mechanisms to manage their panic attacks and reduce their frequency and severity over time.
Encouraging someone to seek professional help can be a crucial step in their recovery, and it’s essential to be supportive and empathetic throughout the process.
Panic attacks can be a frightening and challenging experience for those who suffer from them. But with the right support and care, it’s possible to help someone going through a panic attack to regain their composure and feel more in control.
Remember to be patient, empathetic, and understanding when helping someone experiencing a panic attack and to create a calm and soothing environment that can help soothe their nerves. By offering reassurance and encouraging professional help, you can help the person develop the necessary coping mechanisms to manage and overcome their panic attacks.