On Wednesday I posted about anxiety/panic attacks, and what happened to me on Monday. As one might guess, it’s been a topic of conversation among my family since then.
And what keeps coming up (understandably enough, especially considering that no one said anything or reacted to me on Monday) is the question: What can be done to help? What helps while the attack is happening, and what helps after it’s over?
For me, honestly… there’s not much that can help during an anxiety attack. Maybe cold water or orange juice to drink – like I mentioned on Wednesday (and previously) my anxiety attacks present like hypoglycemic attacks; but other than that, it’s just a matter of waiting it out. It tends to help me to curl up on a flat surface – the floor, for example, or a couch or bed or bench, depending on what’s available – and it doesn’t hurt if the surface I’m curling up on is cool in terms of temperature. (Despite the cold sweats, adding heat to the situation doesn’t seem to help.) If there’s no flat surfaces, sitting down with my head between my knees sometimes helps, but more often pulling my knees up to my face in a fetal position on a chair is best.
After it’s over… making sure I’m not still lightheaded is kind of important, because if I am, that means it’s not actually over, it’s just eased. Once it’s definitely over, sitting up (or putting my legs down if I’m in a fetal position on a chair), and if I haven’t had cold water or orange juice to drink, that’s a good time for them. A snack with a bit of protein, sometimes, or something else sweet – like I said, they present like hypoglycemic attacks with me, so I treat them like that in terms of immediate symptoms.
Generally I still have at least some energy left (unless it’s been a bad panic attack), but I’ll probably want to have a nap or curl up with a favourite book/story soon, to deal with the remaining adrenaline rush/aftereffects. Something calming, at least. Cuddle a cat, preferably my own. Things to help ground me in the “here and now”.
And, as I’m discovering this week, depending on the cause and what other stresses might be going on in my life, I might end up more fatigued than usual for a few days afterwards (like needing to sleep 11-13 hours a day instead of 9-10).
So, here are some “Let’s Talk About” questions.
- When you have an anxiety/panic attack, what helps to deal with it during the attack? Do you need to be left alone, or is there something that other people can do to help?
- Can you still communicate during a panic attack? (I’m lucky in that I can.) If not, do you have a way to let people around know what’s going on and what, if anything, they can do to help?
- What do you need after the panic attack is over?
I’m very interested in hearing responses!