If a friend or family member is having an anxiety attack you can help them if you know what to do. 19% of people ages 18-54 have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. However, an anxiety attack can happen to anybody despite if they having been diagnosed with a disorder.
How to Recognize an Anxiety Attack
Anxiety attacks are the result of intense fear or panic. They are also known as panic attacks. Symptoms of a panic attack include: fast heart rate, fast breathing, headaches, chest pain, trembling, tingling in the fingers and toes, dry mouth, dizziness, nausea, chills, hot flashes, and pain in the abdomen. It can be scary to witness someone having an anxiety attack and you might feel helpless but if you know what to do, you can calm them down.
How to Help
When you see that your loved one is having a anxiety attack use these calming techniques to help them get through their fear.
- Acknowledge their fear.
- Try to find the source of their fear/anxiety.
- Help them breathe deeply.
- Give them a stress ball to help relieve stress.
- Have them tense and relax every muscle. Tense for a period of 10 seconds then release.
- Distract their mind: A few examples are to have them count down backwards from 100 by 7s, have them remind you of what they did that week, have them recite song lyrics or poems, etc.
- Remind them of happy moments in their life.
- Have them think of their “happy place.”
- Have them exercise.
These techniques can help your loved one come out of their anxiety attack. If they are still not calming down, consider taking them to an emergency room.
Long Term Help
An anxiety attack can be a sign of a more serious condition. Have your loved one visit their family doctor after an attack. The physician may refer them to a mental health professional that can be of more assistance to them. To prevent another anxiety attack, recommend your loved one join a self-help or support group to help deal with their anxiety and fears. Exercise and avoidance of caffeine and drugs can also help in preventing an anxiety attack since these have been found to be instigators.