Laker Help Link
Dealing with Panic Attacks
How do you recognize a panic attack?
A panic attack is defined as a discrete period of intense fear or discomfort, in which some of the following symptoms develop abruptly:
- Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
- Trembling or shaking
- Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
- Feeling of choking
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Nausea or abdominal distress
- Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
- Feelings of unreality or being detached from oneself
- Fear of losing control or going crazy
- Fear of dying
- Numbness or tingling sensations
A panic disorder is characterized by recurrent, unexpected panic attacks and persistent concerns about having additional panic attacks.
Suggestions for intervening with a friend who has panic disorder
Talk candidly with the person regarding your concerns for his or her well-being
Your primary objective is to convey feelings of concern and assistance. Be empathic and understanding.
- Encourage coping strategies that don't rely on avoidance of anxiety or panic-provoking stimuli.
- Advocate for the treatment of panic and anxiety; reassure them that there are options.
- Consult with a mental health professional yourself if you are concerned about how to talk with your friend, or if your friend refuses necessary treatment.
What to avoid when intervening with a friend who has panic disorder:
- Don't minimize the severity of panic or anxiety symptoms.
- Avoid critical or shaming statements.
- Don't argue about how bad things are.
- Don't become angry even though your efforts may be resisted or rejected.
For more information:
GVSU Counseling & Career Development Center
Anxiety Disorders Association of America
National Institute of Mental Health
Mental Health America
Page last modified September 14, 2010