You’re walking down the street and you see a woman coming toward you who looks to be in her 20s. She drops the bag she was carrying and you can see that she is breathing rapidly and looks terrified. She grabs her head with her hands.
What should you do?
What Is A Panic Attack?
A panic attack is a feeling of intense fear, along with physical symptoms, that comes without warning and isn't tied to any real danger. People who experience panic attacks may feel like they’re having a heart attack or dying.
The attack usually ends within 30 minutes , but people who have them may also feel exhausted afterward. Because panic attacks are so stressful, it's helpful to offer support to help them get through it, even if you don't know them.
Panic Attack Symptoms
When you witness a panic attack, some of what the person is experiencing will be visible to you and some won’t.
Symptoms You May See:
Symptoms They May Feel:
A racing heart
A sense of doom
A tingling sensation
How You Can Help
Introduce yourself and say you’d like to help if it's OK with them
Don't touch them unless you’ve asked for permission
Encourage deep, slow breaths —do it with them to model behavior
Ask if they’d like you to call one of their friends or a family member
Try to ground them by asking them to focus on something nearby, like a sign in a store window or your tapping feet
Ask what they need — if they’ve had panic attacks before, they may know what helps them get through it
Stay until the attack has passed
If you’re both unsure if it’s a panic attack or a more serious medical event, call 911
Chloe is at a cafe. A man at the next table starts shaking and tells Chloe he thinks he's having a panic attack. What would be a good first step for Chloe to take?
To put this into action, try:
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