Coping with Panic Attack

What are the Symptoms of a Panic Attack?

  • • very rapid breathing or feeling that you cannot breath
  • • very rapid heartbeat
  • • chest pains
  • • excessive sweating
  • • feeling dizzy or that you are about to faint
  • • feeling sick
  • • ringing in the ears
  • • unusual tingling or numbness in hands and feet
  • • feeling of terror - that you are about to go mad or die
  • • feelings of unreality. These are hard to define but can be best described as a sensation of detachment from your body and from your surroundings.

Helping someone cope with a panic attack

  • • Remind the person that he/she can have control of their bodily reactions (see below for breathing techniques.)
  • • Remind the individual that a panic attack will end.
  • • You might ask them repeat to a "script" e.g. "this panic attack will not last, it will end soon and it will not harm me".
  • • Ask them to focus on the things around them and observe their shape, colour, how they feel etc.
  • • Ask them to listen to the sounds around them e.g. the birds singing outside. In these ways you can direct their attention away from your own body and what is happening to it.
  • • It might also help to ask them to visualize a relaxing scene. This varies from person to person, but popular scenarios are deserted tropical beaches or green meadows on a sunny day.

Breathing and Relaxation

Taking some deep breaths is a very useful technique on diffusing panic attacks. When the person learns this technique and practices, it then becomes automatic in their fight against panic attacks.There is many books on the market that can help the individual with this (or the DIT student counsellors can provide students with this information). Most relaxation techniques involve deliberately relaxing each muscle group in turn.

As breathing too fast and too shallowly is a common reaction to stress, it is important to develop better ways of breathing. Become aware of your breathing and practice taking slow and deep breaths from your diaphragm. Then when a panic attack threatens to strike, put this practice into action.

Other Sources of Help

If you feel you need more immediate professional help, please contact the secretary of the service at 402 3352 and she will arrange for a counsellor to see the student as soon as possible.

For support/assistance, please make an appointment with your local counsellor

By phoning 402 3352/ 0860820543.

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