Anxiety happens to all of us and isn’t a nice feeling. But what can be just as bad as watching a loved one or someone else go through the same thing and not knowing what to do to help? The first step in helping someone recover from an anxiety attack is knowing what it is.
What is Anxiety?
“Anxiety is a feeling of fear, dread, and uneasiness. It might cause you to sweat, feel restless and tense, and have a rapid heartbeat. It can be a normal reaction to stress. For example, you might feel anxious when faced with a difficult problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision. It can help you to cope. The anxiety may give you a boost of energy or help you focus.”
Is an Anxiety Attack Different from a Panic Attack?
It’s not uncommon for people to confuse an anxiety attack with a panic attack. Most people consider them to be one and the same, with “anxiety attack” being a layperson’s description for a panic attack, but they’re different. Anxiety attacks typically happen due to something specific – like stress about an upcoming test at school. It disappears once the test is over, but a panic attack is intense, long-lasting, and can happen more often.
Know the Symptoms
Symptoms of an anxiety attack and a panic disorder can often be treated with ketamine therapy, but it’s essential to understand the signs before seeking treatment.
- They come about from something that’s hard to diagnose.
- Anxiety attacks aren’t as severe as panic attacks.
- Feelings are typically driven by anxiety.
- The attack may force you to flee whatever situation you’re in when you feel threatened.
- The attack may be precipitated by a headache or even a migraine.
What are the best ways to help someone going through a panic attack?
It’s normal to be worried or scared occasionally. But people suffering from anxiety may feel overwhelmed by a fear of something that may appear irrational to everyone else. It can be challenging to have a reference point for these concerns, and because of it, many of us don’t know the best way to help someone with anxiety.
Make no mistake, however. Nothing is more distressing than watching a loved one suffer from anxiety attacks and deal with anxiety daily, “but there are things you can do to help.” The first step is recognizing warning signs of extreme worry and understanding the optimal ways to brace your loved one in a moment of need.
If you know someone experiencing an anxiety attack, the person can become anxious and not think logically. How can you help? Start by doing any of the following:
- Don’t leave the person and try and instill calmness.
- Offer to retrieve medicine if it’s something the person normally takes when an attack happens.
- Take your loved one or friend to a quiet place.
- Don’t be afraid to ask what the person needs; it’s better to do this than make a false assumption.
- Keep conversations brief, with short, simple sentences.
- Avoid introducing anything unexpected into the situation.
- Focus is an important key, so help the person concentrate by encouraging them to repeat a basic physical activity like raising their arms above their head.
- Help the person control their breathing by encouraging them to count slowly to 10.
Words of encouragement are an excellent way to help, too, focusing on things like “You can handle this,” “I’m proud of you being strong,” or “If you’re scared, we can go somewhere else.”
Other ways to help the person is to de-escalate the situation by reducing stress, instilling a sense of control, being patient and compassionate, and remaining strong for the other person. Ensuring that person is safe and not left in a harmful setting is important.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Anxiety symptoms are generally brief, triggered by something specific, and go away independently. When attacks become frequent and long-lasting, this could be a sign you are developing a more severe anxiety disorder. Diagnosis requires a physical examination to rule out a medical problem triggering the condition or, if there’s nothing obviously wrong, then a psychiatric assessment is the next step. Your healthcare provider will talk about your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, plus your personal and family history of mental illness as triggers. Standard diagnostic criteria are used to analyze your symptoms before making a diagnosis. At that point, you may be referred to psychotherapy, medicine, or recommended ketamine therapy for treatment.