First aid is a basic support provided to a casualty during emergency before the arrival of professional help. It consists of easy techniques performed with rudimentary equipment found in the first aid box. Dr Liaqat Ali Chaudhry, Psychiatrist, Gujranwala guides about performing first aid for panic attack emergency.
Panic attack is basically the extreme form of anxiety. It occurs suddenly and usually lasts for 30 to 60 minutes. Duration of the attack is short in the beginning but can increase if the patient tries to suppress the feelings. These attacks do not necessarily have a specific cause. Panic attacks usually scare patients as their symptoms mimic a heart attack. However, they are not life-threatening and are treatable and controllable.
There are both physical and psychological symptoms of a panic attack. Physical symptoms include pounding heart, shortness of breath, shivering, sweating, dizziness, headache, chest, stomach and back pain, nausea, problem eating or swallowing, sense of choking, hot flashes or chills, numbness and muscle cramps. While, extreme fear to lose control, get mad, go outside or die; fretfulness, poor or no concentration, sleeplessness are among the psychological signs. A patient starts to foresee death during the attack.
Under these circumstances when the patient apparently seems fine, trying to reject/ignore a patient’s complaints by saying, “there is nothing wrong” may worsen the problem. Instead,
1. Accept what he is feeling. Calm and relax him.
2. Counsel him and reassure that he will be fine. Tell him that his problem is due to an increased chemical activity in the body.
3. Try to divert his attention. Ask to take off his shoes and stand on a higher place such as a chair, couch or ladder.
4. Ask him to take deep breaths, hold oxygen in the lungs for a moment and exhale slowly. He should imagine that his whole body is filling and refilling up with oxygen.
5. Ensure complete support and take him to a relevant doctor for thorough and complete treatment.