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Anxiety Attack: A Comprehensive Guide to Assisting Those in the Midst of a Panic Episode

Anxiety Attacks

Firstly lets understand what an Anxiety attack is; An anxiety attack, also known as a panic attack, is a sudden episode of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes. It’s often accompanied by physical symptoms such as a pounding heart, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, and fear of losing control or dying. These attacks can be unpredictable and may occur without an obvious trigger. They can be distressing and interfere with daily life, but they are treatable with therapy and medication. It is important to remember that each panic attack is unique, and so symptoms can appear differently in individuals. 

Witnessing a loved one experiencing a panic attack can be distressing and overwhelming. However, with the right approach, you can provide crucial support and comfort during their moment of distress.

Here is our four step guide to providing support to those suffering an anxiety attack;

  1. Stay Calm and Reassuring: The first step in assisting someone during a panic attack is to remain calm yourself. Your calm demeanour can have a soothing effect on the individual experiencing the attack. Speak to them in a soft, reassuring tone and assure them that you are there to help. Remind them that what they are experiencing is temporary and that they are safe.
  2. Encourage Deep Breathing and Relaxation Techniques: Encourage the person to focus on their breathing. Encourage slow, deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. You can also guide them through relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation or visualisation exercises. These techniques can help distract their mind from the panic and promote a sense of calm.
  3. Get them to focus on the present: Often anxiety stems from either a previous experience or from fear of the future. Ensuring the individual is focussing on the present will hopefully help to relieve the anxiety. A useful tip is to ask them to list what they can see, smell and touch. This brings them back to the present, grounds them and therefore lifts the anxiety. 
  4. Offer to call for professional help: It is important with anxiety to ensure you are following the person’s suffering wishes. Asking the individual what they want offers them a sense of control. Professional help should always be seeked out if the anxiety is prolonged or growing, rather than settling. 

Supporting someone through a panic attack requires patience, compassion, and understanding. By staying calm, encouraging relaxation techniques, validating their feelings, and offering practical assistance, you can help ease their distress and guide them through the experience. Remember that each person’s experience with panic attacks is unique, so it’s essential to tailor your support to their individual needs. With your support and reassurance, they can navigate through the panic attack and regain a sense of calmness and control.

If you, or someone you know are suffering from anxiety attacks it is important to seek professional help. Click here to book an appointment with one of our doctors.

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