Panic attacks are more common than you think and it’s a good idea to know how to help during a panic attack, whether that’s a family member or friend .
A panic attack can be scary for the person experiencing it and worrying for friend and family. Some clients who have had panic attacks describe them as feeling like the room is closing in on them, they struggle to focus on what’s going on around them, their vision can become blurry and voices turn to fuzzy noise. Some liken the experience to having a heart attack due to the sensation of a tight chest, tight throat and palpitations and many clients have called an ambulance or gone to hospital because they are so worried. The thing to remember and take reassurance from is that although panic attacks can be distressing, they are not life threatening.
Help during a panic attack can be followed up afterwards by checking in with them. Encourage them to talk about any worries they may have and make sure they know that they can always talk to you if things get overwhelming.
Finally, you could make some recommendations to help them manage anxiety or prevent future panic attacks. Encourage them to look at helpful apps such as Headspace or Calm or supportive helplines. You may want to signpost them to Well Minds Online to access our self-help guides to relaxation and breathing techniques or encourage them to visit their GP.