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What to do in case of a Panic Attack

What to do in case of a Panic Attack

Written by
Lewis Orr
Mar 9, 2021

What to do in case of a panic attack

Panic attacks are terrible. They cause fear in and of themselves. Two in five people will experience them at least once in their life[1]. Understanding of this common human event varies among us. Many well know the reality of a panic attack. Yet many have only witnessed it once, briefly, or even on television. In this article we establish what it is, and what to do if you experience a panic attack.

 

The 5th edition of Diagnostics and Statistics Manual (DSM-5) gives the ultimate checklist. According to the DSM-5, FOUR of the following thirteen conditions must be met to classify a certain reaction as a panic attack. Don’t limit your concern until that is fulfilled. This is simply a well-researched guideline.

 

Is it a panic attack? A checklist.

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).

 

How can you help someone having a Panic Attack?

1.    Keep your cool

If you reciprocate their fear, you can add stress to an already challenging situation. Also, remember that a panic attack is a “fight-or-flight” response. According to Sadie Bingham, a clinical social worker who specialises in anxiety, this stress affects their ability to “to think and behave logically”[2]. Keep a level head. If they criticise your effort to help them, don’t take it too personally.

2.    Focus on taking action

Connect your statements to action. Ask how you can help them. For example, ask if it would make them more comfortable to sit down, lie down, or change location. By making your words more actionable, they can stay in touch with your behaviour. We mean well when we repeat remarks such as “don’t worry”. Yet if they continue to panic, they may feel alone, distant from your logical words, and isolated from reality.

3.    Keep them “grounded”

“Grounding” is a coping technique for those who suffer from disorders such as PTSD. Grounding is easy to understand. A person becomes grounded as simple “physical sensations” refocus them “from the stressor to the present”[3]. To one in panic, ask if you can hold their hand, or give them a textured object to feel. Encourage them to stretch or move.  


[1] https://www.beyondblue.org.au/media/statistics

[2] https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-help-someone-having-a-panic-attack#stay-calm

[3] Raypole,C. (2019). Grounding Techniques to Quiet Distressing Thoughts. Healthline

What to do in case of a Panic Attack

March 9, 2021

What to do in case of a panic attack

Panic attacks are terrible. They cause fear in and of themselves. Two in five people will experience them at least once in their life[1]. Understanding of this common human event varies among us. Many well know the reality of a panic attack. Yet many have only witnessed it once, briefly, or even on television. In this article we establish what it is, and what to do if you experience a panic attack.

 

The 5th edition of Diagnostics and Statistics Manual (DSM-5) gives the ultimate checklist. According to the DSM-5, FOUR of the following thirteen conditions must be met to classify a certain reaction as a panic attack. Don’t limit your concern until that is fulfilled. This is simply a well-researched guideline.

 

Is it a panic attack? A checklist.

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).

 

How can you help someone having a Panic Attack?

1.    Keep your cool

If you reciprocate their fear, you can add stress to an already challenging situation. Also, remember that a panic attack is a “fight-or-flight” response. According to Sadie Bingham, a clinical social worker who specialises in anxiety, this stress affects their ability to “to think and behave logically”[2]. Keep a level head. If they criticise your effort to help them, don’t take it too personally.

2.    Focus on taking action

Connect your statements to action. Ask how you can help them. For example, ask if it would make them more comfortable to sit down, lie down, or change location. By making your words more actionable, they can stay in touch with your behaviour. We mean well when we repeat remarks such as “don’t worry”. Yet if they continue to panic, they may feel alone, distant from your logical words, and isolated from reality.

3.    Keep them “grounded”

“Grounding” is a coping technique for those who suffer from disorders such as PTSD. Grounding is easy to understand. A person becomes grounded as simple “physical sensations” refocus them “from the stressor to the present”[3]. To one in panic, ask if you can hold their hand, or give them a textured object to feel. Encourage them to stretch or move.  


[1] https://www.beyondblue.org.au/media/statistics

[2] https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-help-someone-having-a-panic-attack#stay-calm

[3] Raypole,C. (2019). Grounding Techniques to Quiet Distressing Thoughts. Healthline