How To Help Via Text Message
If youre out and about when you get a text from someone that says, I think Im having a panic attack, what do you do?
One of the best things you can do is offer supportive phrases that reinforce their ability to cope. Try a few of these supportive phrases:
- This is time-limited. It will pass.
- Youre doing a great job.
- Im confident that you can handle this.
- Youre going to get through this!
Whether in person or over text, try to avoid making a big deal of their symptoms. Your role can be to help them extinguish the idea that a panic attack is dangerous or intolerable, and remind them that they can handle this experience. You can then offer to help reconnect if they need more support later on.
What Is Panic Disorder
People with panic disorder have sudden and repeated attacks of fear that last for several minutes or longer. These are called panic attacks. Panic attacks are characterized by a fear of disaster or of losing control even when there is no real danger. A person may also have a strong physical reaction during a panic attack. It may feel like having a heart attack. Panic attacks can occur at any time, and many people with panic disorder worry about and dread the possibility of having another attack.
A person with panic disorder may become discouraged and feel ashamed because he or she cannot carry out normal routines like going to school or work, going to the grocery store, or driving.
Panic disorder often begins in the late teens or early adulthood. More women than men have panic disorder. But not everyone who experiences panic attacks will develop panic disorder.
Stay In Your Time Zone
Anxiety is a future-oriented state of mind. So instead of worrying about whatâs going to happen, âreel yourself back to the present,â says Tamar Chansky, Ph.D., a psychologist and author of Freeing Yourself from Anxiety. Ask yourself: Whatâs happening right now? Am I safe? Is there something I need to do right now? If not, make an âappointmentâ to check in with yourself later in the day to revisit your worries so those distant scenarios donât throw you off track, she says.
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The Do’s And Don’ts Of Anxiety
With that in mind, it’s time to go over some tips on how to help a friend with anxiety. Note that every person is different and has different needs. There are some people who want to talk about their anxieties, and there are others who may have never mentioned it. So even with these do’s and don’ts, it’s hard to know exactly what you should do. However, this can be a helpful guide.
Dealing with anxiety is an uphill battle, and it does take a toll on others around them. Anxiety can strain relationships, and may even cause significant stress on a loved one. Some people find that they actually start developing anxieties of their own.
But a supportive friend is an extremely effective way to treat your own anxiety. Learn from the above tips to better understand how to help your friend, family member, or a partner and you’ll give them the best opportunity to overcome their anxiety and grow closer to you as a result.
Those that love someone with anxiety may feel helpless that they cannot help their partner or friend. Anxiety is treatable, but its also a very individual experience. Learning more about anxiety is the best thing you can do for them, as well as encouraging them if they decide theyre ready to treat it.
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What Anxiety Attacks Feel Like
Because of the very physical nature of anxiety attacks, they often are mistaken for some type of serious illness, and in some cases they may create a feeling of health anxiety. For many, the experience of an anxiety attack resembles that of more serious diseases, such as:
- Brain Tumors
- Heart Failure
Those who only experience an anxiety attack once may overcome it and their fears of a health problem may dissipate. For others, the experience of an anxiety attack may be so pronounced that it creates serious health fears that lead to hospitalization or several visits to the doctor.
It should be noted that only a doctor can rule out more serious conditions, so there is no harm in seeing the doctor for both a medical opinion of the causes of your experiences and to ease your mind. But note that when you suffer from anxiety attacks it can be very difficult for a doctor to convince you that you that you are healthy. Treating anxiety attacks is often the only way to find relief.
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Help With Anxiety Attacks
Gratitude Lifts The Weight of Anxiety
Let me explain why the art of gratitude is such a powerful technique for overcoming and getting help with anxiety attacks, help with panic attacks, help with panic disorder attacks
Many people report how their anxiety makes them feel shut off or disconnected from the world. This emotion might be upsetting because some believe they will never feel normal again.
This is a familiar sensation that, in my experience, is primarily caused by a cycle of worried thinking.A person suffering from panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder will spend a significant portion of their day mentally checking in.
I use the word checking in to describe how people with anxiety continually monitor their minds and bodies.
Do I appear to be in good health? How are my thoughts? says the speaker. Recommended Reading Here
Do I feel safe or nervous right now?Because anxiety has such a strong impact on the mind and body, regular check-ins are necessary.People tell me that they can cope with worried physiological feelings,
but it is the anxious thinking that bothers them the most. Thats what Id like to talk about today.Anxiety can make you feel as if your mind is engulfed in a dense fog. Nothing seems to be joyful because you are always peering out at the world through a fog of worried thoughts and feelings. This fog saps the
joy from life and might make you feel cut off from the rest of the world.
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What Is Separation Anxiety Disorder
This condition mostly happens to children or teens, who may worry about being away from their parents. Children with separation anxiety disorder may fear that their parents will be hurt in some way or not come back as promised. It happens a lot in preschoolers. But older children and adults who experience a stressful event may have separation anxiety disorder as well.
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What To Say To Someone Experiencing Anxiety Or A Panic Attack
Everyone experiences anxiety differently, but if you’ve ever been around someone who is having a panic attack, suggesting “Try not to worry” is not the best idea.
You can say things that make anxiety worse, Dr. Ken Duckworth, medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness , told TODAY. People dont like to be dismissed.”
How Can I Best Cope With An Anxiety Disorder
There are several steps you can take to cope with anxiety disorder symptoms. These strategies can also make your treatment more effective:
- Explore stress management: Learn ways to manage stress, such as through meditation.
- Join support groups: These groups are available in-person and online. They encourage people with anxiety disorders to share their experiences and coping strategies.
- Get educated: Learn about the specific type of anxiety disorder you have so you feel more in control. Help friends and loved ones understand the disorder as well so they can support you.
- Limit or avoid caffeine: Many people with anxiety disorder find that caffeine can worsen their symptoms.
- Talk to your healthcare provider: Your provider is your partner in your care. If you feel like treatment isnt working or have questions about your medication, contact your provider. Together, you can figure out how to best move forward.
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What Is It Like To Have Panic Disorder
One day, without any warning or reason, a feeling of terrible anxiety came crashing down on me. I felt like I couldnt get enough air, no matter how hard I breathed. My heart was pounding out of my chest, and I thought I might die. I was sweating and felt dizzy. I felt like I had no control over these feelings and like I was drowning and couldnt think straight.
After what seemed like an eternity, my breathing slowed and I eventually let go of the fear and my racing thoughts, but I was totally drained and exhausted. These attacks started to occur every couple of weeks, and I thought I was losing my mind. My friend saw how I was struggling and told me to call my doctor for help.
Phobias And Irrational Fears
A phobia is an unrealistic or exaggerated fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that in reality presents little to no danger. Common phobias include fear of animals , fear of flying, and fear of heights. In the case of a severe phobia, you might go to extreme lengths to avoid the object of your fear. Unfortunately, avoidance only strengthens the phobia.
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How Are Anxiety Disorders Diagnosed
If you have symptoms of an anxiety disorder, talk to your healthcare provider. Theyll start with a complete medical history and physical examination.
There are no lab tests or scans that can diagnose anxiety disorders. But your provider may run some of these tests to rule out physical conditions that may be causing symptoms.
How Can You Help Someone Who Is Suffering From An Anxiety Disorder
Watching a friend experience an anxiety disorder is a terrifying experience, as you will likely feel completely paralyzed in terms of your ability to help them. There is little worse than watching a friend experience anxiety and not being sure what to do. Thankfully, there are things that you can do.
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Emphasize The Importance Of Breathing
One consistent factor for people suffering a panic attack is disruption of the breathing process. People in the throes of panic make their symptoms and their anxiety worse by breathing too fast, too slowly, too shallowly, or too deeply. These alterations and inconsistencies only feed into the anxiety, making it difficult to regain mental and emotional control when panic starts to take hold.
This wont end the panic attack immediately. But it can halt its progress and help the person having the attack feel more empowered and in control. In the future, breathing techniques should be a part of their anti-anxiety arsenal.
The First Panic Attack
I was standing in the canteen at work, talking to my team. I was getting more and more worried as my boss listed all the tasks we needed to complete, and was panicking about how I was going to juggle everything and get it all done. Then I started thinking about everything I hadnt done at home. Id forgotten my lunch that morning – and did I accidentally leave the iron on?
Suddenly I wasnt listening to my boss anymore. My mind was swirling with thoughts, my inner critic shouting at me, reminding of everything I had to do. I couldnt cope. I felt like a rabbit in headlights, frozen in terror – and then I blacked out.
Suddenly I wasnt listening to my boss anymore.
I came round, lying on the floor of my work canteen, with my colleagues crowded around me. What had just happened? Id fainted. Someone at work called 111, and they sent a fast-response ambulance. It was the second day in a row that I had fainted at work, and they were worried about me.
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Whether Its A Friend Colleague Or A Family Member That’s Having It Panic Attacks Are Scary To Witness Calvin Holbrook Explains How You Can Support Someone Who Is Having A Panic Attack While Also Keeping Yourself Calm Too
As someone that lives with anxiety and has had many panic attacks in the past, believe me when I say that panic attacks can be truly terrifying events when you are going through one. However, panic attacks can also be equally as frightening for anyone that is witnessing somebody have one especially if it’s a particularly bad episode.
Furthermore, the feeling of fear for those watching someone having a panic attack can be heightened if theyve never witnessed somebody having one before. That’s because during a panic attack, the physical symptoms may be so intense that the person suffering it feels like they’re having a heart attack or are about to die. Panic attacks will also often come totally out of the blue.
So, for a friend, colleague or family member observing what seems like an emergency room moment, this can, of course, cause great alarm, upset and confusion as to how to help exactly. Indeed, during some of my most powerful panic attacks Ive asked family members to call me an ambulance as the tightening chest pain, shortness of breath and palpitations has convinced me that Im going into cardiac arrest.How to help someone having a panic attack: first, stay calm
While it can clearly be unsettling and difficult when someone you care about is going through a panic attack or a related anxiety episode, there are things you can do to assist them to get them through it.
Accessing Professional Support For Anxiety
If the person with anxiety hasnt been accessing professional support, yet their anxiety is having a significant impact on their day-to-day life, it may be something to think about suggesting to them.
Remind them that many people have experienced anxiety and that there is plenty of support available. Let them know that you will be there to help them during their first appointment and will continue to support them as they work towards feeling better. There are professionals who know how to deal with someone with anxiety and can provide all of the help and support needed to overcome this condition.
You may want to suggest that they start off by visiting their local GP. GPs are there to help with our mental health as well as our physical health, and they are able to provide advice, support and access to specialist treatment providers, like the Priory Group.
You can also suggest that the person starts off their journey by visiting Priory Group. Here, they will be assessed by one of our consultant psychiatrists, who will then work with the person to determine a diagnosis and the most effective treatment path for them at Priory Group. Depending on the person and their anxiety symptoms, this could include a course of therapy sessions, medication, a series of day sessions at one of our centres or an inpatient stay, if deemed necessary.
If you would like to find out more about the treatment that we offer for people with anxiety, please visit our anxiety treatment page.
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