Home Mental Health & Well-Being Navigating the Storm: Understanding and Supporting Those with Panic Attacks

Navigating the Storm: Understanding and Supporting Those with Panic Attacks

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Panic attacks are a serious mental health issue that affects countless individuals around the globe. Panic attacks can strike without warning, leaving the individual feeling overwhelmed and terrified. The physical symptoms, such as a racing heart, shortness of breath, and dizziness, can be mistaken for a heart attack or other life-threatening conditions.

It’s essential for bystanders to be understanding and supportive when someone is experiencing an attack. Early intervention and therapy can help individuals manage their symptoms and lead a more stable life. Raising awareness about panic attacks is crucial, as it can help reduce the stigma and improve the overall understanding of this condition.

What are panic attacks?

Imagine suddenly feeling your heart racing, struggling to breathe, and an overwhelming sense of fear or impending doom washing over you. That’s what a panic attack feels like. It’s an intense surge of anxiety that can occur suddenly and without warning. People who experience panic attacks often describe it as a terrifying roller coaster ride they never signed up for.

Shedding light on panic attack triggers

Panic attacks can be triggered by various factors, and they differ from person to person. Some common triggers include:

  • Stress overload. When life throws too many stressors at once, it can become overwhelming, leading to panic attacks.
  • Specific phobias. Facing a fear head-on can ignite an attack. Think about that spider you’d rather not encounter!
  • Traumatic events. Past traumas can resurface, causing panic and distress.
  • Biological factors. Sometimes, there might be a genetic or biological predisposition to panic attacks.

Understanding the symptoms

Recognising the signs of a panic attack is crucial for providing timely support. The symptoms can be both physical and emotional, such as:

  • Rapid heartbeat and chest pain
  • Shortness of breath or hyperventilation
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Feeling detached from reality
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy

Supporting someone through panic attacks

If you know someone experiencing panic attacks or face them yourself, here are some ways to offer support:

  • Be Patient and understanding. Listen without judgment and let them know you’re there for them.
  • Encourage professional help. Suggest seeking guidance from a mental health professional who can provide valuable tools and coping mechanisms.
  • Learn their triggers. Understanding their triggers can help create a safer and more supportive environment.
  • Practise relaxation techniques. Explore relaxation techniques together, like deep breathing or guided meditation.

Shattering the stigma

It’s essential to shatter the stigma surrounding panic attacks and mental health in general. Let’s all remember:

  • Mental health matters. Mental health is as important as physical health, and seeking help is a sign of strength.
  • Empathy matters.  We can all contribute to a more compassionate world by being empathetic and kind.
  • Awareness matters.  Raising awareness about mental health issues can break down barriers and foster understanding.
  • Support matters. Providing support can make a significant difference in someone’s journey towards healing and recovery.


Understanding panic attacks is the first step in supporting those facing this serious mental illness. Let’s replace fear and misunderstanding with empathy and knowledge. By being there for one another and promoting a stigma-free environment, we can help those experiencing panic attacks navigate their challenges with strength and courage.

Remember, we’re all in this together, and together, we can make a positive difference in the lives of those living with panic attacks. Reach out, listen, and offer a hand to hold – that simple act of kindness could mean the world to someone in need, ensuring that everyone finds support towards well-being.

Stay compassionate, stay informed, and let’s continue spreading the light of understanding. Thank you for joining us on this journey of learning and support. Until next time, take care and be kind to yourself and others!

Mary Beyonce Smith-Delgado is a passionate writer and mental health advocate. Mary Beyonce is the founder of The Mindful Messenger, a blog dedicated to raising awareness about mental health and providing valuable insights to support and empower others on their mental health journey.

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