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How To Help Someone Having A Panic Attack

Watching a loved one go through a panic attack is stressful. You may feel powerless, frustrated, and even shut out. If it’s the first time you’re witnessing it, you probably have no idea what’s happening or how to react. Your loved one feels scared and may not know how to communicate with you about what’s going on. So what can you do?

What is a Panic Attack?

A panic attack is a sudden rush of intense fear or anxiety accompanied by physical symptoms, such as a racing heart, shortness of breath, sweating, and dizziness.

The person having the attack may feel overwhelmed by the fear, leaving them feeling hopeless and like they are losing control of their body.

Panic attacks usually last for only a few minutes but can feel much longer. This is because the fear and anxiety experienced during a panic attack can be so intense that it feels like it will never end.

While panic attacks can happen to almost anyone, they can become a panic disorder if they happen regularly. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, around 4.7% of all American adults will experience a panic disorder during their lifetime.

Panic attacks are not exclusive to just adults either. Around 2.3% of all U.S children are estimated to have experienced a panic disorder during their adolescence.

This can be a devastating experience, especially in school and with other kids who don’t fully understand the gravity of the situation that panic attacks can have.

What are the Signs of a Panic Attack?

If you are worried that you or someone you know might be experiencing a panic attack, some common signs are to look out for.

  • The person may seem agitated or anxious and talk very quickly or breathe heavily.
  • They may also have a racing heart, feel dizzy or lightheaded, and start to sweat.
  • In some cases, people will have an upset stomach or feel like they will throw up.
  • A feeling of being numb and being detached from reality

If any of these symptoms sound familiar, it is important to reach out for help.

What Causes Panic Attacks?

There is no one specific cause of panic attacks. They can be caused by various things, including:

  • Family genetics or history in the family of similar issues
  • Stressful life events or traumatic experiences
  • Substance abuse
  • Medical conditions, such as heart disease, asthma, and diabetes
  • Smoking or large amounts of caffeine intake

While these are some of the most common causes, we still don’t fully understand what causes panic attacks or causes a disorder to develop.

Can Panic Attacks Have Long-Term Affects?

While most panic attacks are short-lived, some people can start to experience them more regularly and even develop a panic disorder.

A panic disorder, if left untreated, can turn into more serious mental and physical complications. Some of these complications include:

  • Depression
  • Drug or alcohol addiction
  • Eating disorders
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Agoraphobia (fear of leaving your safe space, like your home, because you might have a panic attack somewhere after you leave)

It is essential to get help if you or someone you know is experiencing panic attacks. Many treatments can help, and there is no shame in admitting that you need help.

What To Do If Someone Is Having A Panic Attack?

If you are with someone with a panic attack, the most important thing you can do is be there for them. 

Remind them that they are not alone and that the attack will eventually end.

Try to keep them calm and distracted by talking to them or playing soft music.

Some people find that deep breathing exercises or visualization can help, but it is vital to do whatever works best for the person having the attack.

If they feel unsafe or are losing control, it is best to get them to a safe place, such as a hospital or their home.

Never try to force someone to calm down if they don’t want to. Letting them feel the fear and anxiety associated with a panic attack can be very healing in the long run.

Getting a treatment plan in place to help the person dealing with the panic attacks and understand them is also a crucial step.

NeuropsychiatryTx Can Help Treat Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are high-stress events. Those suffering can become non-verbal or concerned their lives are at risk. While these episodes are physically harmless, they can wreak havoc on relationships and on everyday life if they persist. Ketamine therapy can help. 

It’s time to break the silence and start your healing journey. Contact us today to learn more about finding relief from panic attacks.