Do you know someone who is suffering from anxiety? Are you worried about them? It might be tough to understand how to assist someone suffering from an anxiety attack. Mental health disorders can be challenging to manage at times. We have highlighted some helpful anxiety dos and don’ts so that you can ensure that the steps you take enable them to feel better again.
We all worry and get worried from time to time. However, persons suffering from anxiety may be preoccupied with fears that appear unreasonable to others. It can be challenging to relate to these concerns, and as a result, many individuals are unsure how to assist someone suffering from anxiety effectively. While you can help someone with anxiety by offering support and encouraging your friend to get professional help, you must also take care of yourself.
It’s upsetting to see a loved one suffer from panic attacks and anxiety daily, but there are things you can do to help. It all starts with recognizing the indications of excessive worry and learning how to support your loved one effectively.
This article will be about how to help someone with an anxiety attack. This will include what you should do if you are a bystander. It will also go over what types there are and how to tell when someone may be having an anxiety attack.
Table of Contents
What exactly is an anxiety attack?
An anxiety attack is characterized by a sudden, acute feeling of anxiety and fear. It can happen suddenly and linger for several minutes or longer. Anxiety attacks usually peak in 10 minutes and last no more than 30 minutes.
Stress interferes with daily work, is difficult to control, is out of proportion to the actual risk, and can linger for a long time. To avoid bad feelings, you may avoid places or situations. Symptoms may appear as early as childhood or adolescence and persist into adulthood.
Anxiety attack is another name you may have heard. There is no universally accepted definition of anxiety attacks. Sometimes the phrase is used to describe panic attacks, while other times, it is used to describe a state of great worry.
What exactly is a panic attack?
A panic attack is a feeling of acute fear that results in solid physical symptoms despite the absence of any real danger or apparent cause. Panic attacks can be terrifying. When panic attacks strike, you may believe you are losing control, suffering a heart attack, or dying.
Although panic attacks are not life-threatening, they can be scary and substantially impact your quality of life. However, treatment can be highly effective.
What is the distinction between anxiety and panic attacks?
Anxiety is typically associated with something believed to be stressful or threatening. The symptoms might range from minor to severe. Whereas a panic attack is characterized by a rapid, acute bout of fear or anxiety that is accompanied by at least four of the following symptoms:
- Palpitations or a beating heart
- Sweating, shortness of breath, or choking sensations
- Vertigo, trembling or shaking.
- The feeling of numbness or tingling
- Bursts of heat and cold
- Dread of death or loss of control
- Nausea or stomach ache
- Disconnection from oneself and one’s surroundings
An incident or a stressor can trigger anxiety attacks, or they might occur for no apparent reason. They have significant symptoms that interfere with what you’re doing at the time.
Types of anxiety disorders
Anxiety may occur in different forms. It varies from person to person. You don’t need to experience the same signs and symptoms as others. This article will assist you with the different types of anxiety disorders.
1. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
If continual worries and fears keep you from going about your daily activities, or if you have a persistent dread that something horrible may happen, you may have a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Physical symptoms of GAD include sleeplessness, stomach trouble, restlessness, and exhaustion.
2. Panic attacks and panic disorder
It is distinguished by frequent, unexpected panic attacks and the anxiety of undergoing another episode. A panic disorder may be accompanied by agoraphobia or the fear of being somewhere where escape or rescue would be impossible in the event of a panic attack.
3. Obsessive-compulsive syndrome (OCD)
OCD is defined by unpleasant thoughts or activities that appear impossible to stop or control. Obsessions, or worrying about hurting someone, may annoy you if you have OCD. You may also experience uncontrollable compulsions, such as repeatedly washing your hands.
4. Hoarding syndrome
Hoarding disorder is distinguished by an inability to discard belongings and a pathological attachment to even useless items. It can result in an overabundance of possessions (or animals) and a messy living area.
5. Irrational fears and phobias
A phobia is an irrational or exaggerated dread of a particular object, activity, or situation that poses little to no harm. Fear of animals, flying, and needles are all common phobias.
6. Anxiety about social situations
You may have a social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia. It is characterized by extreme timidity, and in severe cases, social interactions are avoided entirely. The most frequent type of social phobia is performance anxiety (also known as stage fright).
7. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop following a traumatic or life-threatening event. PTSD symptoms include flashbacks or dreams concerning the events, hypervigilance, easily startling, withdrawal from people, and avoidance of circumstances that remind you of the trauma.
8. Anxiety about separation
While separation anxiety is a natural developmental stage, your kid may have a separation anxiety disorder if fears become excessive or persistent enough to interfere with school or other activities.
The “do’s” of assisting someone having an anxiety attack
Anxiety attacks can strike unexpectedly and without warning. It would be intimidating to see your loved one having an anxiety attack, but you should be aware of the condition and how to calm them during an anxiety attack. Learn the symptoms of an anxiety attack so that you can recognize them and help your friend if they occur. Here are a few do’s you can put into action.
1. Get a firm grasp on their anxious symptoms.
Anxiety affects everyone differently. Anxiety symptoms are diverse, and people might exhibit various behaviors such as defensiveness, anger, and restlessness.
Figure out what they’re going through, and try to calm them, as this might help you comprehend their situation and make it easy for you to help them. This, in turn, can help you empathize with their situation and recognize instances when they may require additional assistance.
2. Tell them you’re always present for them
When learning how to help, you may want to tell them that you’ve observed they’ve become more anxious recently and that you’d like to assist them.
This is usually a great relief for the individual, as they realize they don’t have to bear the burden of their anxiety alone. This talk allows the individual to understand that there are people who care about them, want to listen, and want them to feel better.
Make them feel at home and safe to open up and express their feelings with you. Someone anxious may also tell you how you might assist them in managing their anxiety symptoms.
3. Pay attention to them
Ask the anxious person how you can help them, and pay close attention to their preferences. After all, you want to know how to aid and support anxious people. They may need assistance in breaking down a task that is causing them anxiety, they may require you to distract them from their worried thoughts, or they may need someone to chat to.
You can give them the emotional support that will truly make a difference if you take the time to listen and understand their needs. Make the person feel you’re concerned for them and willing to do anything that might cause help. Attention to what they have to say and want can make the person feel better.
4. Validate their sufferings
People frequently have difficulty communicating their experiences with mental health difficulties, such as panic attacks. Some people avoid discussing mental health difficulties because they fear others will not comprehend what they are going through.
Others are concerned about being evaluated or informed that their experience is insignificant. Outsiders frequently do not understand, and may even dismiss, the dread generated by panic episodes.
5. Consider their requirements
Assume you just sat with a friend who was having an anxiety attack. They appear calmer but exhausted after it’s over. You were both looking forward to seeing a show, but your friend asked you to accompany them home instead.
You’re understandably disappointed. But keep in mind that your friend had no control over what transpired. They are most likely disappointed and exhausted. They may also feel awful about upsetting your plans, which can add to the stress of the attack.
After a strong fear response, feeling absolutely exhausted is normal as your body and its processes return to normal. Someone who has just suffered a panic attack may be unfit for anything other than calm rest.
The “don’ts” of assisting someone having an anxiety attack
It is essential to understand the situation of the person suffering from an anxiety attack. You have to be very cautious around them. Avoid saying things that could trigger them in any way. You have to be careful because a few words from your mouth can cause significant damage to your mental health. We’ve listed a few don’ts to give you an idea of what you should not say to someone suffering from anxiety.
1. Please don’t bring up their anxiety all the time
Avoid bringing up the person’s fear or asking inquiries about it when you’re with them or chatting to them on the phone. Instead, keep the conversation going and let them discuss it if they like. That way, they won’t feel awkward or compelled to disclose their nervousness when they don’t want to.
Give them space and time to open up. It’s not easy to accept flaws, and the person having anxiety feels low on motivation and will start feeling bad about themselves. To ease them, just let them be themself and try to make them comfortable with your acts and words.
2. Don’t give in to their fears
When anxious, people may strive to avoid specific places or situations. As a result, you may have begun to change your behavior. For example, you may have started to avoid particular areas or scenarios as well, or you may have begun to take on tasks to assist the individual in continuing with their avoidance.
We understand that this may appear beneficial because you are preventing the individual from worrying in the short term, but this avoidance may harm them in the long run. Their prolonged departure can exacerbate their fears and hinder them from seeing that they can cope with the scenarios they are avoiding.
3. Put no strain on them
While you mustn’t assist their behaviors, it is also essential that you do not push the individual to go to locations or enter situations that they are highly nervous about.
This is something they should work on progressively with competent therapy assistance. If you push them too far, you risk damaging your relationship’s trust and causing them substantial stress.
4. Avoid forced confrontation
On the other hand, forcing someone to do something they are afraid of is not a good idea. Learning how to overcome severe apprehension is best accomplished with a competent therapist. This relieves you of the load. It also empowers your loved one by guiding them through their worries one step at a time with the support of someone who has done it before.
5. Don’t become frustrated.
A lack of enthusiasm to engage in your hobbies, career, or social activities can signify acute anxiety. Remember that if your loved one withdraws from social activities or friends and family, this is their defense mechanism at work.
Expect no immediate change
Recovery is an ongoing process. Your loved one will gradually return to regular life as they acquire tactics and techniques to deal with their anxiety. By amassing as much resolution and patience as possible, do everything you can to help rather than hinder this process.
Mental health does not improve overnight. The causes that have caused their mental condition to deteriorate are likely complicated and will take time to heal. Consider this if you ever feel discouraged by what appears to be a lack of progress. Give it some time, and it will appear. It will take time to improve, but nobody can guarantee how much time is required to be expected.
What to say to an anxious person?
If your loved one is willing to talk about their anxiety, utilize active listening skills to demonstrate that you understand how they feel and that it makes sense. Knowing what is right to say in front of someone with anxiety and whatnot is essential. You should remember some tips that might help you deal with it. You might use sentences like:
- How can I assist you?
- I’ve seen you’ve been anxious lately, and I am concerned for you.
- I’ll always be there for you, no matter what.
- Do you want to go for a walk and discuss it?
What to not say to an anxious person
There are some things you should strive not to mention. Avoid downplaying how someone feels or dismissing what they say as an exaggeration. Avoid phrases like:
- Try not to think about it.
- I, too, have anxiety from time to time.
- Perhaps you’re just a nervous person.
- You have nothing to be concerned about. However, keep lines of communication open.
- Having an open communication channel with someone suffering from anxiety is critical.
- If possible, see the person regularly to help with anxiety management. Spend one-on-one time with them so they can talk about anything that makes them nervous.
- You can check up on them by visiting in a week or sending a text message every few days to check how their week is going.
Take care of yourself
Remember, it is essential to take care of yourself. It’s natural to feel frustrated, terrified, or exhausted when volunteering to help someone with anxiety. Their concerns are most certainly affecting you as well.
Make sure you’re coping with these feelings and staying healthy. Discuss your feelings with other friends or family members, consider seeking psychological help, take excellent care of your bodily and mental health, and schedule time each week to engage in activities that you enjoy. You can help a person who is suffering from anxiety.
Realize when to seek assistance
- If you know someone struggling to manage anxiety on their own, tell them to not hesitate to seek professional help and encourage them to consult a doctor.
- A therapist can help one to understand and manage anxiety more holistically.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy is one therapy that is effective in treating anxiety.
- If someone is struggling to cope with their anxiety, talk to your doctor about whether medication might be right for them.
Treatment options for anxiety patients
Individuals suffering from anxiety have two basic therapy options:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) teaches people how to deal with anxiety and upsetting situations.
- Antidepressant medication management works well independently but significantly better when combined with CBT.
- Continue to demonstrate your support during therapy by
- Inquire with your loved one about what you can do to assist them.
- Inquiring about attending a therapy session to learn how to help them better.
- Making time for your life and interests will help you maintain vitality.
- Encourage your loved one to try a different therapist if the first one doesn’t work out.
If you find yourself in a situation where you’ve to help someone who is having an anxiety attack, there are some things you can do to help. First and foremost, try to stay calm. This can be difficult if you’re feeling panicked along with the other person, but it’s essential to remain as quiet as possible. Secondly, offer words of reassurance and support. Let the person know that you’re there for them and that they’re not alone. Finally, encourage the person to breathe slowly and deeply. This will help them to relax and hopefully bring the anxiety attack under control.