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How to Help Someone Having A Panic Attack


Written by Emily Santrac


What is a Panic Attack?

According to Mayo Clinic, a panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers several physical reactions with no real danger or apparent cause. They can be extremely frightening, and may cause the person having a panic attack to feel as though they are having a heart attack or are dying. It’s important to be aware of the symptoms in order to understand whether or not you or someone close to you is having a panic attack. Once we have a basic understanding of how to identify a panic attack, we can better help those experiencing an episode.


Symptoms:

  • Rapid, pounding heart rate

  • Feeling of impending doom

  • Hot flashes

  • Nausea

  • Trembling or shaking

  • Chest pain

  • Headache

  • Detachment from reality

How to Help

It’s valuable to know how to help a person having a panic attack. Whether you know someone who frequently has panic attacks or not, it is necessary to know what to do when such a situation arises. First, remember that you are not a professional. The best thing to do is to be there for the person.

Things not to do:

  • Do not tell a person to “just calm down” or “you’re panicking over nothing.” When a person is having a panic attack, they feel detached from reality, and telling them to just calm down might make the person even more frustrated and panicked.

Things to do:

  • Recognize the situation. A panic attack is a serious situation and should not be brushed off.

  • Take the person to a safe and comfortable place.

  • Involve all their senses and try to distract them. Ask them what they can see, touch, or smell to bring them back to reality.

  • Stay with them, and be fully present.

Sources

Am I Having A Panic Attack? What To Do Next. (2020, June 17). Cerebral. Retrieved December 29, 2022, from https://cerebral.com/blog/am-i-having-a-panic-attack-what-to-do-next

How to Help Someone Through an Anxiety Attack. (n.d.). Freedom K9. Retrieved December 29, 2022, from https://www.freedomk9project.com/single-post/2016/11/06/How-to-Help-Someone-Through-an-Anxiety-Attack?gclid=CjwKCAiAkrWdBhBkEiwAZ9cdcAjsbzoiLvLV2zimx-8sknmyWHPQmIk-j9EAupUFJGEaq-QpAJvIAhoCJucQAvD_BwE

Panic attacks and panic disorder. (n.d.). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved December 29, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/panic-attacks/symptoms-causes/syc-20376021

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