There is little that provokes as much discomfort as lingering anxiety or a sudden panic attack. The cliche television portrayal of panic attacks shows pretty girls crying and hyperventilating (although somehow remaining absolutely stunning), taking deep breaths, and overcoming it within minutes, if not seconds. If you have ever had a panic attack or helped someone through one, you know this is far from accurate.
The signs and symptoms of panic attacks vary from person to person. No list of signs/symptoms is exclusive or finite. With this, there is no guaranteed, set-in-stone way of helping someone with a panic attack. Ah yes, this is the moment you feel like throwing a toaster at me, and for that I apologize.
Anxiety is a shapeshifter that manifests in so many ways, which makes it impossible to predict what will help. Due to this, my first recommendation if you’re struggling with panic attacks is to get professional help. However, I would like to share with you some of the self-reminders that have helped me and others get through panic attacks.
1. You are not dying.
2. You can breathe.
3. Anxiety/panic is not comfortable, but it is not extremely harmful.
4. You have survived this before, and you will survive this again.
5. This is not the end of the world.
6. It will pass.
7. Do not Google your symptoms.
8. You are not “losing it.”
9. This is temporary.
10. Your thoughts are not always your friend.
If you’re aware someone struggles with panic attacks, talk to them. Individuals know their own symptoms best and can tell you the signs they’re having a panic attack and how to help with one. Some people prefer fresh air and silence, whereas others may just want to pace and talk through it to you.
Be considerate of what an individual needs. Be patient while the panic passes. Remember to look after yourself first always.
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