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Panic Attacks

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A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause. Panic attacks can be very frightening. When panic attacks occur, you might think you're losing control, having a heart attack or even dying.

While they are frightening they are not dangerous. There are things you can to to feel calmer and more in control.

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Breathing

If you're breathing quickly during a panic attack, doing a breathing exercise can ease your other symptoms.

Try this:

  • Breath in as slowly, deeply and gently as you can, through your nose.

  • Breath out slowly, deeply and gently through your mouth.

  • Some people find it helpful to count steadily from one to five on each in- breath and each out-breath.

  • Close your eyes and focus on your breathing.

5,4,3,2,1 technique

If you're having a panic attack the 5,4,3,2,1 grounding technique can be very helpful.

 This is how:

  • Name 5 things you can see,

  • Name 4 things you can feel,

  • Name 3 things you can hear,

  • Name 2 things you can smell,

  • Name 1 thing you can taste.

This technique is  to ground you and help you focus. 

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What we are trying to do is ground you and make you feel more in control to cope better.

Sometimes having something in your hands while doing these techniques can really help. For example holding ice cubes or playing with a fidget toy.

There are also some apps you can download that can help you calm down.

  • Rootd

  • Breathwrk

  • Clear fear

  • Headspace

  • Daylio journal

  • Woebot

Some people like to do activities to focus their mind on something else.

For example:

  • Drawing

  • Colouring

  • Ripping paper

  • Watch a movie

  • Listen to music really loud

  • Going for a walk

  • Playing/ spending time with a pet.

  • Calling a friend

It can be anything, if it helps you that is what matters.

Making a little plan as to what you can do when you feel a panic attack coming on or when your having one can be helpful. A little list of things you can do in that moment can help you.

Helping someone having a panic attack.

It can be scary when someone you know is having a panic attack, but there are some simple things you can do to help them:

  • Stay calm, Keep your voice Calm and don't talk about or focus on what is happening to them during a panic attack. Remind them that they are safe and it will be over soon.

  • Ask them if they need anything. Someone having a panic attack might not always be able to tell you what they need, but asking can help remind them they are not alone.

  • Help them to breath. Try counting out loud as you breath in for 5 seconds and out for 5 seconds.

  • Support the afterwards, take them somewhere quiet to calm down and get them some water if they need it.

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