How to stop an anxiety attack?
Anxiety attack (AA) is a sharp attack of fear, which is characterized by a variety of symptoms, up to the deterioration of the state of health, which develops in the shortest time, sometimes several seconds, and can last up to 2 hours, but often not more than 20 minutes. PA occurs in mentally healthy people during periods of severe stress, constant stress, possible emotional experiences (for example, the recent loss of a beloved one). They should be differentiated from various mental illnesses, accompanied by obsessive fears or neurotic disorders.
During an anxiety or a panic attack, a sense of fear grows like a snowball. Due to specific symptoms, people often feel fear of death, heart attack, stroke, and suffocation, and that is on top of the initial anxiety. Blocking these fears is one of the primary tasks of first aid.
To remove an attack or not to allow a panic attack to develop, some simple rules can be used. Normalization of breathing. With a sense of fear, breathing becomes more frequent, more oxygen enters the bloodstream, and a disturbance of the gas balance leads to hyperventilation of the lungs. It feels like there is not enough air. In fact, the oxygen content can increase by 40-50%. Therefore, the main task here is to reduce the amount of incoming oxygen. In this case some dense material has to be pressed tightly to the mouth and nose and person has to breathe into it until the state is normalized. If the material is not available, it is enough to fold the palm of your hand with a cup and press it firmly against your nose and mouth.
Activation of the sense organs.
Giving the brain information from different senses, you can switch it to the processing of the received signal, and the fear will pass by itself. The easiest way is to use touch. For example, in case of an approaching attack, a usual pinch can help. Some people, who suffer from frequent PA, wear an eraser on their wrists – and when the alarm begins to roll, they simply pull it off and release it. Washing with cold water can also help.
Control of movements and the body.
The experience of emotions is also reflected in the work of the muscles – unconscious repetitive movements (shaking of the foot, tapping fingers on the table, etc.) or, vice a versa, numbness can occur. Such a muscle reaction does not allow the body to get out of the state of fear, to calm down. Therefore, one of the tasks in case of a panic attack will be the return of the body under control. It is necessary to concentrate attention on the muscles of the hands, feet, face, relax them, and the movements have to be smooth, slow. Switching attention to the external environment. In case of a panic attack, a person is concentrated on his experiences, including not only symptoms like dyspnea, but also how he looks to the others.
This makes fear to increase.
Make the brain focus on the outer world. For example, simple counting helps – how many trees are on the street, buttons on the neighbor's jacket, steps on the stairs. It helps to switch the attention and to determine your location – look at the sign with the name of the street, how far it is from the center, where the nearest pharmacy, cafe, park is. Talking is very effective, and as conversations with strangers, for example, in a queue or in transport, can excite you and provoke an episode, you can just call a friend.
In the event that you see that an anxiety attack occurred in someone close to you, the first aid will be: Make a person concentrate on himself – take his hands, look into his eyes. Talk to him – a confident and gentle tone comforts well. It is important to say that the condition in which a person is located does not threaten his life, that everything will be fine, and very soon the attack will end. Help to normalize breathing. If there is a dense material at hand, help use it to eliminate hyperventilation of the lungs. Breathing in unison is good – let the person repeat after you the measured deep breaths and exhalations. When rendering assistance, it is important to keep track of your condition – the voice and the movements must be confident. Do not hurry a person up, give him enough time to recover. Be prepared that it can take about 20 minutes.
However, do not forget that self-medication will not always be effective and a person might need a doctor's advice and aid.