In this blog post, we are going to talk about panic attacks, how to identify one and what is not appropriate to do when someone is having a panic attack.
Why yelling at someone during a panic attack is not going to fix their problem
Yelling at someone during a panic attack is probably the worst thing you could do. This will not only make the situation worse, but it will also permanently damage your relationship.
A panic attack is not a joke and if the person going through this experience could say “Stop” and recover, they certainly would. Labelling, offending, screaming are of no help! If you feel angry, or find it difficult to understand what the other is going through, at least try not to say anything.
What NOT to do while somebody is having a panic attack
Panic attacks are scary. If you are with someone who is having a panic attack or has just gone through a panic attack, it is important to consider the following and what NOT to do:
- Do not ask them a lot of questions – they probably know as much as you do at that exact moment
- Do not agree with the negative things they are saying during the attack. If you do this, it will probably make them feel worse.
- Don’t tell them to calm down or relax – they would if they could. Having a panic attack is not a choice.
- Too much concern can also worsen the situation, and amplify fear. Avoid using expressions such as “Poor of you” or “Dear, look at what is happening to you, let’s call the ambulance!”.
- Do not denigrate the person with comments such as “Stop, what are you child?” or “Come on, end the nonsense.”
- Don’t tell them they have nothing to be worried about – this is not how anxiety works.
- Don’t start shouting, crying and don’t act upset – this will worsen the situation.
Although they are extremely unpleasant, panic attacks are usually harmless and usually last between five and 20 minutes.
How you can help a person suffering from a panic attack
- Try to find the cause that triggered the attack
Try to find out if the fear was caused by a particular reason. If it exists, try to remove it or remove the person from the source of stress and lead him to a quieter place.
- Calm down the person
Talk to the person suffering the panic attack quietly but firmly. Try to convince her to stay still and calm down.
- Help him regain his normal breathing rhythm
Once the person has managed to regain a normal breathing rhythm, it will be easier for them to eliminate the other symptoms of the panic attack. There are several methods that might be useful to you:
- the counting method
One method is to advise the person to breathe while you are counting aloud. Count more and more rarely, until you notice that the breathing has returned to a normal rhythm.
- the paper bag method
Hyperventilation is caused by the lack of carbon dioxide, which can worsen anxiety. To help restore the optimal level of carbon dioxide in the body, ask the person to breathe in a paper bag.
Do not repeat this process more than three times, as it may have the opposite effect and create excess carbon dioxide in the body.
- Don’t leave the person alone
Never leave a person suffering from a panic attack alone. It is best to stay with them until they are fully recovered, to ensure that no emergency medical care is needed.
Learn more about panic attacks
Panic attacks are a form of anxiety disorder. A panic attack manifests itself through a short period of intense fear or severe discomfort. This episode is associated with palpitations, sweating, a sensation of dizziness, tremor, shortness of breath, pain or discomfort in the chest area, nausea, fear of losing control, fear of going crazy.
To understand panic attacks, why they appear and are sustained, we need to understand fear. Panic attacks are manifested by an alarm reaction of the body, a reaction identical to the one we have when we are in danger.
Fear is an absolutely normal emotion that has helped us and helps us survive. Think what would happen if a child didn’t learn to be afraid of fire, cars, wild animals? He probably wouldn’t survive alone too long.
When you perceive that your life is in danger, the “fight or flight” alarm system is activated automatically. This alarm system involves activating the body to protect itself from danger.
The brain (especially the amygdala – the area responsible for processing fear) is hypervigilant and transmits signals for the release of neurotransmitters that make our heartbeat more powerfully, assimilate more oxygen, and put our muscles in tension in order to escape or be able to escape or defend ourselves.
What are the symptoms of a panic attack?
- Strong and accelerated heartbeats
- Excessive transpiration
- Respiratory difficulties or shortness of breath
- Pain or discomfort in the heart/chest area
- A feeling of losing control
- Fear of death
A panic attack should include at least 4 symptoms from the ones listed above and last about 20-30 minutes, reaching maximum intensity in about 10 minutes.
The panic attack implies a very strong state of fear and the need to defend yourself by “escaping” from the situation. Generally, after the first panic attack, there is a fear of a future attack and of what might happen.
How to cope with a panic attack if you are by yourself?
Here are some suggestions on what you may do if you are having a panic attack and find yourself alone:
- Change the way you breathe
Many people with panic attacks tend to breathe briefly and superficially – from the chest. This type of breathing is frequently associated with symptoms of time – dizziness, numbness, pain in the chest area.
The breathing that can help you relax is the diaphragmatic one or the abdomen. In general, the term 3-breath is used – which means – you breathe in for 3 seconds, hold your breath for 3 seconds, and exhale 3 seconds.
- Learn a relaxation technique
The simplest is the one mentioned in point one – breathing through relaxation, but you can find a number of resources on the internet – including videos that you can use to relax.
- Don’t believe everything you think
The thoughts you have during a panic attack tell you that the situation is dangerous, that you will go crazy or you will die. How many times have you had panic attacks? How many times have you thought you were going to die / faint/ go crazy? How many times has this happened?
Use your past experience, recognize the symptoms of panic and do not interpret them as catastrophic, they are normal states of the body, which are not dangerous, it is just an alarm reaction without any danger, the sensations will disappear in a few minutes.
- Learn how to solve your emotional problems
Often anxiety and panic are a signal that things are not going well – at work, in a relationship, or in other areas of life. Try to make yourself aware of what is wrong, what upsets you and find solutions for each problem.
Panic attacks are among the most common problems, they may be associated with agoraphobia, generalized anxiety, depression or other problems. They can be treated and it is advisable to seek help as soon as possible.
FAQs about yelling at someone during a panic attack
Can you scream during a panic attack?
Sometimes people scream when they have a panic attack. There is no standard as a panic attack should look like. Among the symptoms of a panic attack are the sensation of suffocation, immense pain and fear of dying.
What should you not do when someone is having a panic attack?
When someone is having a panic attack you should not tell them to relax and stay calm; don’t scream or get nervous yourself. Try to keep calm and be empathetic, remind the person that this too shall pass.
How do you calm someone having a panic attack?
In order to calm someone who is having a panic attack, you should speak with them in a calm and soothing voice; ask them what they need you to do; help them return to a normal breathing rhythm and don’t leave them alone.
Can you die from a panic attack?
You cannot die from a panic attack. However, when a person is having a panic attack they can feel like they are going to die. Panic attacks should be taken seriously as there is treatment and ways of helping someone experiencing them.
When should you go to the ER for a panic attack?
You should go to the ER if you are experiencing symptoms like chest pain that last for more than 15 or 20 minutes. Chest pain and shortness of breath are common symptoms with panic attacks, but they should not last longer than 20 minutes.
What should you do after a panic attack?
After a panic attack, you should take care of yourself and perhaps speak to someone you trust about what happened. Panic attacks are scary, and you do deserve all the support there is.
In this blog post, we argued why yelling at someone during a panic attack is a bad idea. We also discussed what are more appropriate measures to take when somebody is having a panic attack.
Please feel free to comment or ask as any questions.
- Anxiety: Panicking about Panic: A powerful, self-help guide for those suffering from an Anxiety or Panic Disorder
- When Panic Attacks: The New, Drug-Free Anxiety Therapy That Can Change Your Life
- Dare: The New Way to End Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks Fast
- The Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Workbook for Panic Attacks
- Badass Ways to End Anxiety & Stop Panic Attacks!: A counterintuitive approach to recover and regain control of your life
- Panic Attacks Workbook: A Guided Program for Beating the Panic Trick
Anxiety Disorders and Panic Attacks – University of Michigan
Panic Disorder In Children And Adolescents – AACAP