What to do when someone next to you is experiencing a panic attack?

With the current state of the world and the approach of schools, we felt obliged to touch on a topic such as this. IT’s no doubt, that most of us, have either experienced a panic attack, whether knowingly or unknowingly, or have noticed someone else experience. So today we’re going to unravel a few ways in which you can help someone suffering from an anxiety attack, be that you or the next person you know who encounters this experience.

Now, before we delve in any further, there’s a very important disclaimer to make, there are 2 different types of attacks, that’re often confused for one another. An anxiety attack and a panic attack. Today we’ll only discuss how a panic attack unfolds itself.

Panic attacks are classified under the category of anxiety disorder and is more common, than one would think of it to be. As of the year 2020, it has been recorded that 1 in every 19 people will experience a panic attack at least once in their life. However, that being mentioned, it’s important to state that not everyone who experiences a panic attack at some point in their life, is diagnosed with panic disorder.

In order for that to happen, one would have to experience these episodes on a regular basis, as opposed to once or twice in their entire existence.

How does one identify is they’ve ever experienced a panic attack, or if someone else is experiencing it too? Unlike an anxiety attack, the panic attack manifests itself into physical attributes and behaviors when it arises. One very common symptom being hyperventilation and shortness of breath, which in turn leads to an increased heart rate and eventually dizziness. The shortness of breath causes one to become further anxious and therefore increasing the rate at which they feel the need to breathe to allow enough oxygen to reach their lungs (how to overcome that will be available on our Instagram!).

Other ways in which panic attacks manifest themselves are, feeling nauseated, numbness, shaking and/or trembling and can go as far as chills and hot flashes.

It’s important as a viewer, to help others struggling with this mental illness and its episodes to understand their emotions as this process unravels itself, to be able to understand how your presence or in some unique cases, lack thereof, might help. The attack characterizes itself with intense and powerful emotions of fear and anxiety and even emotions of dying to arise and quickly manage to take over the person, in which their fight or flight mode is switched on.. The episode intensifies over the span of 10-15 minutes and eventually dies down at around 30 minutes with the proper approaches.

In the span of that one hour, one’s body becomes extremely overwhelmed and weak and therefore it’s super important to allow the survivor of this episode some time to relax.

Although, as of now, there isn’t a direct correlation to certain events that cause a panic attack to occur, science has revealed that especially for more introverted people, or people suffering from social/ generalized anxiety being forced into uncomfortable situations, such as speaking in front of an audience can be quite triggering. Aside from the fact that this is also solely hereditary (inherited from one’s family) and that genes could have a strong factor in why you might be experiencing this, the presence of stress for long periods of time can very much induce an episode.

This type of disorder is found to be problematic, in the sense that often times with people who regularly experience it, begin avoiding the places in which an episode occurred to them and at some given point in time, altogether decide to remain inside, at their homes, as they’ve reached a point, where they’ve become stressed out about this occurrence happening to them outside of their comfort zones, with no one in sight to help them. This is called “agoraphobia”.

The question everyone was waiting for, is it treatable? The simple answer is that there’s no cure or quick fix to overcome this. However, with the proper medication (if necessary and should be assigned by a doctor, not make a self-diagnosis) and therapy/ methods of coping, this mental illness could be very easily effectively managed, to the point where it no longer significantly impairs your day-to-day life.

If you’re suffering in silence, that needn’t be the case, talk about the matter with your loved ones, there’s always someone willing to listen and help, never forget that.

Written by: Mia Malak

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