Panic attacks can occur for nor obvious cause or in situations that are not normally stressful. If someone is very anxious, check for a history of panic attacks, and ask if he/she has any intense fear, such as a terror of spiders or of being in a crowd.
What to look out for:
- Hyperventilation (over-breathing)
- Muscular tension, producing headache, backache, and a feeling of pressure in the chest
- Extreme apprehension and fear of dying
- Trembling, sweating, and dry mouth
- High pulse rate and sometime palpitations
- To remove any obvious cause of panic
- To help the person regain control
How you can help:
- Try to find out and remove the cause of the fear
- Take the person to a quiet area
- Reassure them and explain that they are having a panic attack, if they don’t already know
- Encourage them to breathe more slowly
- If the person is hyperventilating, encourage them to breathe into a paper bag to help control the symptoms
What to do if you are having a panic attack:
- If you are in a situation that causes you fear, ask someone to help you remove the cause of the fear
- Find a quiet space where you can sit until the attack passes
- Try to clear your mind, some people find that thinking about stressful subjects can trigger panic attacks.
- Focus on your breathing, and slowing it down
- Reassure yourself that the panic attack will pass
- Some people find that thinking of something that makes them happy, a memory or something they are looking forward to can help ease the panic attack
- If you recognise that there is a particular stressful subject that does trigger your panic attacks, try addressing that issue – talk to someone you trust, such as a family member, teacher or colleague.
If you experience panic attacks regularly, it may be best to see your GP who will be able to recommend further solutions.