Helping someone through panic attack
- Deciphering distress
Mar 7, 2019-
If you know someone who suffers from panic attacks frequently, it can be helpful to better understand what they are. Attacks can last between five and 30 minutes, with symptoms including rapid breathing, sweating, racing heart, shivering and feeling sick. It is important to ride out the attack and not look for distractions; just remaining calm can provide comfort.Panic attacks can be highly distressing; some people describe feeling as if they are having a heart attack or that they might die. It is important to reassure the person experiencing an attack that they are not in danger. The symptoms, attributable to the body’s fight or flight response, typically peak within 10 minutes. Encourage the person to breathe slowly and deeply. Mind, a UK based mental health charity, advises counting out loud or asking them to watch while you calmly raise your arm up and down. Your “don’t panic” may be well-intentioned, but try to avoid any potentially dismissive language and phrases.
People can often feel exhausted after a panic attack. Gently ask them if you can get them a glass of water or something to eat. They may be feeling shivery or too hot. At a later point, when they have recovered, you might like to ask them what they find helpful during or after an attack.
Published: 07-03-2019 12:12