We live in an ever competing world which makes us victims of fear. And when that fear goes out of hand, it turns us into panicking humans. It has happened at least once to each one of us, isn’t it? We have had days where we are sitting in a meeting, everybody is listening to the boss and what he has to say. But you are not! You have random thoughts swarm your head, one thought leads to another and the next thing you know is that your heart is beating fast and you’re sweating profusely out of fear. This is probably what one can term as a panic attack on an informal basis. Unclear thoughts in one’s head can lead to blurry nights and sunshine most of the time. What do you do when you see someone getting a panic attack? Which is the right way to help them? All these are very important to know and understand, but before that, let’s first understand what a panic attack means. Read on.
What Is A Panic Attack?
You see, panic attacks are generally a combination of physical, emotional, and mental symptoms. In brief, it can be called as an intense rush of fear. The panic attacks usually begin with some sense of fear, dread, and nervousness. These can sum up feelings of anxiety. And when a person experiences these with a sense of heart palpitations, shortness in breath, excessive sweating, chest pain, shaking, tingling, and also nausea. These symptoms (that are physical), they meet with certain fearful thoughts during the panic attack which will make one feel to go insane, lose control, sometimes even undergo a medical emergency, or even worse like possibly facing death. We need to understand one important thing that when a person is under a panic attack, the person is bound to go through feelings of depression, derealization, and depersonalization where the person feels very detached from reality and self. Some of the common symptoms of a panic attack are:
- Chills or sweating
- Intense fear
- Difficulty in breathing
- Pounding heart
- Chest and head pain
- Doomed feeling
Helping Those Under Panic Attack
First and foremost what we need to understand about a person undergoing a panic attack is that he or she will not have control over themselves both physically and mentally. They don’t even have any control over their symptoms as to when it may strike. It isn’t necessary that panic attacks have to be an outcome of an event, they might surface without any reason and at any given point of time. People who have certain phobia are the only ones that might have panic attacks concerning certain fears. So, considering that panic attacks can take place anywhere and at any time, we need to jump in and help if we find someone going through a panic attack. This indeed is an act of kindness, but we need to understand that a person undergoing a panic attack will be in a fragile state of mind. Saying or doing anything wrong with them can only worsen the situation. It could be your loved one or a stranger, but it is important to know how to help someone undergoing a panic attack in the right manner. Let’s understand the same by reading the points below.
- Learn To Keep Your Calm
People who are under panic attacks can be both, irritating and even scary at times. In such cases, it is very important for you to stay calm. Therefore, keeping your cool is probably the best fool-proof way for you to stay calm. Because one needs to understand that as much as a panic attack is overwhelmingly empowering to handle, it will only last for a very short time. The intense feelings will only last from five to ten minutes. However, the person undergoing a panic attack might not be aware of the time. They might be very terrified with the thoughts that are empowering them. It is natural for you to feel fear about seeing their behavior which doesn’t categorize as normal, but, you need to stay calm. A calm voice will help with great folds.
So, what can one say taking advantage of the calm voice while handling someone under a panic attack? You can try the following:
- With your calm voice, you can reassure them that you will not leave them alone.
- You need to remind them that this panic attack will not last long, so stay strong.
- You need to tell them that they are safe and they will be fine in no time.
- Just tell them that everything is just fine and alright.
- Understand The Signs Of Warning
If you have never come across someone who is undergoing a panic attack, then firstly, you need to make note of certain common signs of a panic attack. So, panic attacks usually begin with these:
- Choking feeling
- Pounding heart
- Shaking or dizziness
- Hyperventilation or the otherwise of shortness of breath
- Feelings of terror or dreadfulness
Another thing to note is that not everybody faces panic attacks in the same manner. If a person in your family or at work gets panic attacks, then you should try and learn the common signs of warnings that lead to panic attacks. The sooner you understand and realize it, the more comfortably you can help them in the harsh times of a panic attack.
- Just Ask How You Can Help Them
People who have been suffering from panic attacks for long will already have their working ways of handling and coping with their panic attacks. Therefore, when you come across a person going through a panic attack, it’s always best for you to just ask if you could help them in any way. Yes, when under an attack, they might not be able to communicate this in the best way. A small help or clue from them can help you save them from any severe adversities.
- Lay Focus On Your Actions Than Your Words
Yes, a soothing voice can help undoubtedly, but constantly repeating “don’t worry” cannot be the only solution. Words cannot always benefit in such a situation, therefore, putting forth some actionable help is vital like the following mentioned:
- Asking if they want to go to a much open space or just leave the space they are in right now.
- You can remind them to take deep breaths.
- Engaging them in some light conversations
- Doing Their Stress Validation
In general, people always have a tough time trying to share their personal experiences when it comes to mental health. Some don’t do it because they think that the other person might not be able to understand the pain that they are going through. Some feel embarrassed to share it out of fear that they might be made fun of. Some think they will be judged.
It is true that as outsiders, one can never understand the pain of trauma a person is facing during a panic attack. To some, it could also feel very illogical. But the panic attack is real and so is its response. Therefore, when someone is trying to talk or tell you about it, an empathetic response such as, “That sounds very difficult. I’m so sorry about this experience that you had to go through. You can let me know what I can do to help or support you. I’ll be glad if I could make you feel better.”
- Assist Them In Staying Grounded
Grounding techniques can prove to be very beneficial for several anxiety problems, even more in the case of panic attacks. Grounding techniques will help in containing panic attacks whenever it surfaces. Grounding techniques will help the person understand what is happening in reality and not just feel fearful during the attack.
Some grounding tips include:
- Encouraging the person to stretch or just move a bit
- Physical touch, for example, holding their hand
- Talking to them calmly about familiar places
- Giving them any kind of textured object to touch and feel
It can be very frightening to watch someone you don’t know to undergo a panic attack. But coming forward and helping them keeping in mind the above-mentioned points can help them feel peaceful and battle their panic attack which could have been fateful for them. Staying calm and acting wisely is the key.