A panic attack may be a sudden, intense episode of overwhelming fear and anxiety.
Having repeated episodes of panic attacks is now quite common. Even people without mental disorders can have panic attacks. One study showed that over one in five people experience a panic attack in their lifetimes.
Everyone should have skills to assist an individual who has a panic attack. There are some ways that include using grounding techniques and helping them get their inhaling under control.
Most common symptoms of panic attack are as follows:
- Intense fear
- Abdominal distress
- Sweating or chill
- Pounding heart
- Shortness of breath
- Head and chest pain
Panic attacks are different from a normal fear response because there is no actual fear involved.
How to help someone who is having a panic attack?
If you think someone is having a panic attack, Mental Health First Aid teaches you to follow the ALGEE action steps:
ASSESS for risk of harm: Ask them if it’s happened before and if they think they’re having one now. If it’s something that they’re aware of and they suspect it is, ask them if they’d like help. If they do, introduce yourself (if it’s a stranger).
LISTEN non-judgmentally: Ask directly what they think might help (for example, moving isolated from a crowded area or sitting down). Don’t assume you recognize what’s best for them.
GIVE reassurance and information: Remain calm and reassure the one who they’re possibly experiencing a panic attack which it’s not dangerous. Explain that while what they’re feeling is frightening, the symptoms will pass. As you talk, use short sentences and speak in a very clear, firm manner. Hold back and stick with them throughout the attack.
ENCOURAGE appropriate professional help: When the panic attack is over, provide the personal information associated with panic attacks if they don’t realize them or don’t know where to accumulate relevant resources. If they seem concerned, explain that there are effective treatments for panic attacks within which there’s help available to them.
ENCOURAGE self-help and other support strategies: Encourage the person to tap into other support sources, like family, friends, or any communities they’re a part of. Support groups of people who also experience panic attacks may be useful, as well.
In a nutshell, panic attacks are scary for everyone involved, especially once they happen suddenly.
As the person’s stress levels rise, it’s essential for others to remain calm and empathetic. How they answer the person experiencing the attack can influence its severity.
If a person is experiencing other symptoms, like nausea and vomiting, they’ll be having an attack. During this case, it’s essential to contact the emergency helpline immediately.