How To Help Someone Having A Panic Attack

How To Help Someone Having A Panic Attack

Panic attacks can happen to anyone, but they’re an especially common occurrence for those suffering from anxiety or panic disorder. It can be difficult to watch someone you care about have a panic attack, especially if you don’t know what they’re experiencing, so it’s important to learn how to help them. If your loved one lives near Glendale, CA, Dr. Taji Huang can help.

What Causes Panic Attacks?

Many mental health conditions can cause panic attacks, although they can happen to anyone even if they haven’t been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. However, the most common conditions associated with panic attacks include panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, agoraphobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and phobias.

Symptoms Of A Panic Attack

If you haven’t had a full-blown panic attack before, it can be difficult to understand what your friend or loved one is going through. You might be really worried and confused to see them suddenly start to tremble, hyperventilate, cry, freeze up, or lose the ability to speak. Panic attacks can vary greatly depending on the individual, so not everyone has the same symptoms, but here are some of the unpleasant things your loved one might be experiencing during an attack:

  • Rapid Heart Rate
  • Hyperventilation
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Severe Anxiety, Dread, Or Terror
  • Nausea
  • Stomach Discomfort
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Feeling Lightheaded
  • Muscle Tension & Limb Cramps
  • Temporary Limb Paralysis
  • Numbness & Tingling Sensations
  • Chills
  • Hot Flashes
  • Trembling & Shaking
  • Chest Pain Or Tightness
  • Throat Tightness
  • Feeling Like They’re Suffocating Or Choking
  • Feeling “Cut Off” From Reality
  • Feeling Like Reality Isn’t Real
  • Feeling Detached From Their Own Body
  • Fear Of Losing Control, “Going Crazy,” Or “Losing Their Mind”
  • A Sense Of Impending Doom
  • Fearing That They Are About To Die

What Can You Do To Help?

It’s important that you talk with the person who experiences panic attacks in order to learn what to do if you see them having a panic attack. For example, some people may find it reassuring or comforting to have a loved one hold their hand, say soothing words, or gently touch them when they start to panic, whereas for others (such as some people with PTSD), the same well-meaning actions could remind them of their trauma and make the anxiety attack worse. Everyone is different, so it’s best to ask your friend or family member in advance how they prefer to be supported.

Specific Ways Of Supporting Someone During A Panic Attack

  • Talk in a soothing, compassionate, and gentle voice.
  • Remind them that you’re here for them and that you care.
  • Ask them if they’d like to sit down or go to a quieter, less crowded location.
  • Reassure them that the panic attack will only last a few minutes.
  • Ask them if they’d like a gentle hug or to hold hands, but never touch them without explicit permission.
  • Avoid appearing overly anxious or upset, as this can make their anxiety attack worse.
  • Never tell them to “calm down” or that they’re “overreacting.”
  • Give them space if they ask for it, but remind them that you’ll come back if they change their mind.

Anxiety Therapist In Glendale

Dr. Taji Huang is a licensed psychologist with extensive experience treating anxiety disorders using effective techniques like CBT, EMDR, and exposure therapy. Contact her office today for more information on how she can help.

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