Anxiety First Aid
Start writing a post

The worst thing about panic attacks is that they don't make sense.

Unfortunately, this means that many people have no clue how to handle them when they appear in their lives. Telling someone experiencing a panic attack to "calm down," "relax," "get over it," or "just breathe," is not only unhelpful, but incredibly degrading and upsetting.

For most of my life I have lived with an anxiety disorder. Sometimes it's worse than others. Recently I've had a series of public panic attacks. My attacks typically cause me to become mostly nonverbal, either because I can't breathe or because I just can't verbalize what is happening for me.

As such, it is often hard to communicate what I need to the people around me. And frequently, people aren't sure what can be helpful. This said, no one is ever under any obligation to deal with someone else's panic attack. But if you are looking to reach out to a friend in need, I have compiled this little first aid list.

DISCLAIMER: Every person's anxiety is different. Different people need different things. When in doubt, ask the person what they need. Some people need space. Some people need comfort. Some people need water. It's as individual as a fingerprint.

1. Let Me Be In Control
I know this sounds ridiculous, considering that I just told you that I can't communicate well, but taking the control out of my hands can actually make a panic attack worse. I need support, but I also need to know that this is something I can survive even on my own.

2. Help Me Ground Myself Physically
Ask if you can hug me, hold my hand, etc. Asking lets me feel like I have a choice, which can take the bite out of my panic. Hugging compresses the central nervous system and helps calm anxiety. That said, there are times when my anxiety is such that touch will make it worse. Ask or warn me before you touch me. Sitting on the floor can help me ground myself. Alternately, walking somewhere away from where the attack started can help. Very cold things (ice packs, frozen corn, etc.) can also be grounding. Ask me what the room smells like, how many colors I can name, to list as many animals as I can, to count cracks on the wall...anything that helps me focus on the world I am in and get out of my own head.

"The floor seemed wonderfully solid. It was comforting to know I had fallen and could fall no farther." - Sylvia Plath

3. Help Me Breathe
Panic attacks usually knock the wind out of me. Counting in fours, reminding me to breathe all the way into my ribs, and/or demonstrating full breaths usually helps me get back in control of my mind and body. Putting a hand on my back can also be helpful.

4. In Extreme Cases, Ask If There's Anyone You Can Call
Sometimes a panic attack is more than just a panic attack. If I'm not calming down at all or responding to anything you're saying, ask if there's someone you can call for me. If a trigger is severe I may need to talk to a close friend, mentor, or my therapist.

5. Check In On Me
The hours following an episode of anxiety or panic can be exhausting and draining. Checking in on me can make it feel a little less lonely and a little less dark. Memes are always appreciated. And texts always help me remember that I am not alone. Remind me that I have people rooting for me and that there is more to me than my mental illness.

For more information on anxiety disorders, visit https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-dis...
For an inside look at a panic attack, read this https://www.theodysseyonline.com/panic-attacks-fee...




Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Lifestyle

TikTok Made Me Buy It: Flawless's Skincare Fridge

I bought and tested one of TikTok's popular products so you don't have to.

58698

I spend a lot of time on TikTok and I never know whether the products I see are worth it or not, especially when I'm looking at the price. For Christmas, my aunt got me a gift card to Ulta. I didn't know what to buy. I have way too many palettes and lipsticks. I have my essentials. What else could I need? Then it hit me that I saw a lot of people these past few months showing off their skincare fridges. So, the second I thought of it I went on the Ulta app and bought it. So, here are my thoughts.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

37 Cute And Unique Pinterest Board Titles

Let's be real, the hardest part about Pinterest is thinking of a cute title for your board.

30024

I don't know about anyone else but I have recently become re-obsessed with Pinterest. Like, I am spending a stupid amount of time on Pinterest daily now. While I have been binging Pinterest I have found that I love making cute and aesthetic boards but it is SO hard to come up with a name to match it. So, I scoured the internet and my brain for you. Happy pinning!

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

This Is What Type Of Person You Are Based On Your Favorite Cereal

Your cereal preference reveals more than you think.

18494
Photo by Nyana Stoica on Unsplash

Whether you eat cereal for breakfast or a late-night snack, you probably have a favorite. Little did you know that what you prefer says a lot about your personality.

Keep Reading... Show less
Alexis Hoffman

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we all know that cutting out social interaction has taken its toll.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Asked Instagram How 2020 Was, And Maybe It Wasn't The Worst Year Ever

2020 is a year to remember but it's not as bad as we made it out to be.

47340

It's finally 2021 and we're honestly all just happy that 2020 is over. I decided to ask my Instagram followers how they felt about 2020 and the results were a little more mixed up than expected.

Keep Reading... Show less

Ever since I watched "How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days," I've been a major Matthew McConaughey fan. I've seen most of his movies, and I definitely got way too excited when he finally made an Instagram! So when he announced he would be releasing a memoir titled "Greenlights," I knew I absolutely had to get my hands on this book. And so did the rest of the world, as the book began to flood social media.

Truthfully, I would much rather read a fiction book and dive into another world than read a nonfiction book - even if it is one of my favorite celebrities. But I had a feeling this book wouldn't disappoint or bore.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

The Armie Hammer Scandal Discourse Is Kink Shaming And Harming Actual Victims

The rumors surrounding Armie Hammer has resulted in some very toxic and harmful discourse.

16515

Sex is something that occupies a very significant place in our lives. Even asexual people can have an active sex life. With the various types of people that comprise this world, it obviously results in various sexual interests. And unconventional people can engage in some pretty unconventional sex practices. Even the most conventional people on the surface might surprise us with their sexual fantasies.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments