How to help a young person during a panic attack.
Panic attack’s are an incredible frightening symptom of anxiety. Unfortunately, children as young as four are now being reported to have experienced this terrifying ordeal. It is believed that 20% of adolescents may experience a mental health problem in any given year…that’s five per class. Hopefully, that young person is getting some help for anxiety. However, being able to assist them during a panic attack, in a calm way, is very reassuring to that young person.
What is a panic attack?
A panic attack is a feeling of sudden and intense fear. Everyone experiences feelings of anxiety and panic at certain times. It’s a natural response to stressful or dangerous situations. But for someone with panic disorder, feelings of anxiety, stress and panic occur regularly and at any given time. Physical symptoms can be frightening but are not dangerous. They include; chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea and/or shaking. This may last anything between 5 and 20 minutes.
How can you help?
Young people may not be able to articulate their feelings or describe what is going on for them. It may be hard to know if they need help and how to aid them. However, the following are ways in which you can help a young person if you suspect they are having a panic attack.
- Stay calm. Yes, it can be frightening for you too to observe, but even more frightening for those experiencing it. Remember these symptoms are not dangerous.
- Remain in control. A young person having a panic attack has lost their sense of control, which is very overwhelming.
- Speak in a calm and gentle voice to communicate to them. Use age-appropriate words like ‘wobbly’ or ‘scary’.
- Let them feel safe by telling them that you are there for them and that you understand. Tell them that although this feels horrible or scary, this feeling will soon pass.
- Help them to develop coping strategies by practicing techniques. For instance, taking deep breaths together and steadily breathing out. If you are aware of any other techniques that they use or have been taught by a therapist, then do these with them too.
- Don’t rush their recovery. Allow them time to recuperate and compose themselves. Reassure them and help them to gain confidence by reassuring themselves.
How hypnotherapy can benefit young people
Hypnotherapy treats the source of the problem, instead of just managing the symptoms. With anxiety and/or panic disorder it is important to seek support.
- By identifying triggering events and the underlying emotions, hypnotherapy works to neutralise them.
- Through accessing the subconscious mind and the information stored there, hypnotherapists can work quickly to break patterns of stress and anxiety.
- Through a small number of sessions, the young person feels in control of their emotions and able to manage them.
- This process allows young people to feel able to manage their stress and anxiety issues in a healthy way.
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