how to help someone having a panic attack

Panic attack a strong attack of fear, characterized by a variety of symptoms, up to a deterioration in health. It is worth noting that for situations with an objective threat, panic attacks are not typical, on the contrary, an attack occurs suddenly, often under normal conditions. Such unpredictability only aggravates the condition of a person suffering from such conditions. Indeed, it often seems to him that he is completely defenseless before the next attack. However, this is not at all the case – and About Me will tell you how to properly provide yourself with first aid or how to help someone having a panic attack.

Symptoms of a panic attack

Panic attack (PA) is an attack that develops in the shortest possible time, sometimes a few seconds, and can last up to 2 hours, but most often not more than 20 minutes. PA occurs in mentally healthy people during periods of intense stress, constant stress, possible emotional experiences (for example, the recent loss of a loved one). They need to be differentiated from various mental illnesses accompanied by obsessive fears or neurotic disorders.

Typical symptoms of panic attacks:

  • Strong unexplained fear, in most cases sudden.
  • Lack of air, shortness of breath
  • Rapid heartbeat or irregular heartbeat, possibly high blood pressure.
  • Dizziness, darkening in front of the eyes.
  • Numbness – a person can not say anything, move. There may be a violation of gait.
  • Sweat.
  • Nausea.
  • Pain in the abdomen and sternum.

During a panic attack, the feeling of fear makes snowball. Because of specific symptoms, a person often begins, in addition to initial anxiety, to feel fear of death, a heart attack, a stroke, suffocation. Blocking these fears is one of the main goals of First Aid.

How to help yourself during a panic attack

A few simple rules will help to relieve an attack or prevent a panic attack from developing.

Normalization of breathing.

With a sense of fear, breathing accelerates, more oxygen enters the blood, and a gas imbalance leads to hyperventilation of the lungs. It feels like there’s not enough air. In fact, the oxygen content can increase by 40-50%. Therefore, the main task here is to reduce the amount of incoming oxygen. Any package will help you with this – you need to squeeze it tightly against your mouth and nose and inhale into it until the condition comes back to normal. If the bag is not at hand, just put your palms in a cup and squeeze them tightly against your nose and mouth.

Activation of the senses.

By giving the brain information from different senses, you can change it to process the received signal, and fear will disappear by itself. The easiest way is to use the sense of touch. For example, when an attack happens, pinching can help. Some people with frequent APS wear an elastic band around their wrists – and when anxiety begins to manifest, they simply pull it back and release it. Washing with cold water can also help.

Movement and body control.

The experience of emotions is also reflected in the work of the muscles – unconscious repetitive movements appear (swinging the legs, knocking fingers on the table, etc.) or, on the contrary, numbness occurs. Such a muscular reaction does not allow the body to get out of the state of fear, to calm down. Therefore, one of the tasks of a panic attack will be to regain control of the body. It is necessary to focus on the muscles of the arms, legs, face, relax them, and do only slow and slow movements.

Attention to the external environment.

During a panic attack, a person fixes himself on his experiences, including not only on symptoms such as shortness of breath but also on how he looks at others. From there, fear only grows. Force the brain to focus on the outside. For example, a simple counting helps – how many trees there are on the street, buttons on a neighbor’s jacket, steps on the stairs. Determining the place of stay will also help to change – look at the sign with the name of the street, at what distance from the center, where the nearest pharmacy, Cafe, Park is located. The conversation is very effective and if conversations with strangers, for example, online or in transport, cause excitement in themselves, you can call a friend.

panic attack help: First aid in case of panic in another person

panic attack relieve

In the event that you see that a loved one has a panic attack, first aid will be as follows:

  • Make the person focus on yourself – take his hands, look into his eyes.
  • Talk to him – a confident and gentle tone soothes well. It is important to say that the state in which a person is located does not threaten his life, everything will be fine and very soon the attack will end, and as long as there is fear, you will be there.
  • Helps to normalize breathing. If you have a bag on hand, help him use it to treat hyperventilation. Breathing in unison will help – let the person repeat after measuring deep breaths and exhalations.

When providing assistance, it is important to monitor your condition – your voice should be confident and your movements should be measured. Do not rush the person, give him enough time to recover. Expect it to take about 20 minutes.

Prevention and treatment of panic attacks

Even after a single panic attack, a person develops a fear of new attacks, which further aggravates the situation in case of panic. Therefore, if this happened at least once, it is necessary to devote time to the prevention and treatment of PA. Better yet, a specialist will help you in this matter. In particular, it is the psychotherapist who will be able to establish the cause of seizures and prescribe medications, if necessary.

In order to reduce the risk of a return of a panic attack, you can follow the following steps:

  • During an attack, it is not recommended to immediately leave the place where it occurred. It is necessary to understand exactly which stimuli (words, sounds, actions, environment) the body reacted.
  • Remember the sequence of first aid during an attack and, if the doctor recommended medicines to you, take them with you.
  • Sleep for at least 8 hours. Very often it is the lack of sleep that is one of the factors that increase the likelihood of AP.
  • Fill your life with positive emotions. It is important to regularly rest, take walks, go on a trip, and meet friends – this will reduce the fear of a possible attack in the future.
  • Master breathing exercises. This will help to manage the hyperventilation of the lungs during a crisis.
  • Choose a pleasant physical activity. Elimination of muscle tension will have a positive effect on the emotional state. Do yoga, swimming, jogging in the morning, dancing, and more.


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