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Helping Someone During a Panic Attack

By Stephen R. Farris

Chances are you may know someone who suffers from panic attacks. It can be a scary situation for the person who is having them. Oftentimes they may feel like they're experiencing a heart attack or the feeling that it's the end. 

Panic attacks can happen with little or no warning at all. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Increased sweating or shakes
  • Faster heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sudden feeling of nausea
  • Feelings of fearfulness
  • Light-headedness, faintness

These are just a few of the symptoms of a panic attack. The person often feels helpless when the attacks come on. 

However, if you are around someone who is experiencing a panic attack, there are a few things you can do to help them.

Keep Calm

When you see someone having a panic attack, the best thing to do is to remain calm yourself. If you or someone else reacts negatively to a panic attack, it can actually make matters worse. Try to give the person a calm and comforting conversation, maybe a few words of encouragement to help calm them down.

Change the Narrative

While kind words and calm conversation will work, there are some other techniques to incorporate as well. Have the person suffering the panic attack sit down in a comfortable chair with feet on the floor and focus on breathing techniques. Even simple math such as counting from 1 to 10 can help reduce their panic attack. 

Offer Support

For some panic attack sufferers, counseling or group help could be beneficial for them. If you have the time, you could offer to get the person started with counseling or group therapy sessions. 

Things Not to Do

How many times have you watched television and someone in the show or movie starts to have a panic attack? Usually the first thing someone does in offering help is to grab a paper bag and have the person inhale and exhale into it. Unfortunately in the real world, this technique could have an adverse effect and cause the person to pass out. You also should not tell the person to simply "calm down." They could take it as a sign of you being panicky as well. The same goes for acting irritated when someone is going through a panic attack.

If you have questions about panic attacks or how you can help someone that does, talk with your local chiropractor to find out some of the answers and suggestions they can provide.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Casa Grande, Ariz.

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