Anxiety is a condition that is increasingly prevalent throughout the world’s population. A panic attack can happen anywhere and at any time and it is very hard on the person experiencing it. But it is also difficult for the people around these people who suffer from it, and who “suffer” the crisis of the other without being able to do anything to help them. Even worse, we don’t understand the source of their panic. So what do you do when you are in the presence of a person who suffers from anxiety and is having a panic attack? Here are some tips from someone who knows what she’s talking about, Kesley Darrah, on Twitter
Some realistic advice to help me during a panic attack
- I want you to know that I’m scared, and I won’t be able to explain why, so don’t panic, don’t get mad at me.
- Find my medicine if it’s near me, and make me take it.
- The breathing exercises will frustrate me but they are vital. Try to get me to synchronize my breathing with yours.
- Give me some nice suggestions on what we can do to take my mind off of things. Don’t tell me what I need, or what I should do. And listen to me if I say no to something. Don’t force me to do anything.
- For dissociative attacks: remind me that this has happened to me before, and that it will pass. It always passes but it’s really scary when it happens, so maybe you can tell me some fun things about me or our life together that will make me smile or laugh.
- Small sips of water can help, but don’t tell me I have to eat or drink because believe me, I feel like I’m going to throw up.
Breathe through your nose…
- Keep breathing with me!
- If we can get away, take me home!
- Please be really nice to me. I don’t feel like myself, I feel ashamed and guilty already for putting you through this, so please don’t get mad at me.
- Sometimes a big, long, soft hug can make me feel safe.
- Helping me breathe may be difficult, but it’s the key!
- If things are really bad, call my mom, sister, or best friend to talk to me.
- Tell me not to resist, but rather to let go. The more I try to control my seizure (or the more you try to control it!), the worse it gets.
- Have empathy for me! You may not understand, but you understand me because you know me!
- Once it’s over, several hours later, try to discuss it with me. How did you do? And what can we do next time.
Breathing is the key
It cannot be repeated often enough, breathing is essential during a panic attack. It can trigger a natural tranquilizer as stated by the Anxiety Centre, a specialized American center. However, care should be taken not to take too many breaths that could cause dizziness, especially when the patient is hyperventilating.
The CSMQ is here to help you no matter what your situation. Make an appointment now with one of our mental health professionals and we invite you to share your tips in our comments section at the end of this article.