Yelling At Someone During A Panic Attack

This guide will explore why yelling at someone during a panic attack is damaging. The article will also discuss how to manage and ground someone when they have a panic attack, both in-person and virtually, over text or phone.

Yelling At Someone During A Panic Attack

Yelling at someone during a panic attack can be severely detrimental to the psychological well being of people. According to brain research, it gets difficult to think clearly in the state of fear induced by yelling. When a person hears someone yelling, their brain read that as a danger, and thus they experience extreme fear. After the brain reads it as danger– a response of flight/fight/freeze mode is triggered in the person, depending on the level and amount of threat. The response can range from yelling back in defense to withdrawing from the situation or being numb or mute to the situation. None of it gives a satisfactory outcome.

Some people can get a panic attack when they are being yelled at or just being in a space where yelling is happening. Yelling at someone during a panic attack won’t snap them out of their condition. Instead, it can make it even worse due to the sensitivity to sensory overload and danger.

The brain processes the yelling or loud voices in the same way as it processes danger. Hence the amygdala( the emotional brain) reads these signals as danger and produces a fear response. For someone who is already having a panic attack, the yelling worsens and heightens the fear response. 

Another reason that is yelling at someone who is having a panic attack is a bad idea is that it increases stress hormones and cortisol in the system. It manifests in the form of physical symptoms of anxiety. The physical symptoms cause the rush of adrenaline and cortisol in the body and compel human beings to get away from danger.

Due to the above mentioned psychological problems, both the yeller and the one being yelled at will suffer from ineffective communication, leading them nowhere. They mostly face reactivity management problems. Therefore, it is important to seek professional assistance. Your therapist can help you in resolving the psychological issues of being yelled at.

What Is A Panic Attack And How Can You Identify When Somebody Is Having A Panic Attack?

A panic attack is characterized by the rush of emotional and physical symptoms due to severe fear and anxiety, causing a state of intense arousal, which may exhibit itself as physical pain and constricting feeling in the heart.

Panic attacks can make them feel like they are dying, and the feeling of impending doom is a big symptom of a panic attack. The diagnostic criteria for panic attacks as described in DSM 5 are as follows:

A panic attack is a sudden surge of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes, and during this time, four(or more) of the following symptoms are exhibited:

Note: The sudden surge can happen from a state of calm or anxiousness.

  • Shaking or trembling
  • Sweating
  • Palpitations, rapid heart rate, or pounding heart.
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Choking feelings.
  • Chest pain or congestion feeling.
  • Nausea or abdominal distress.
  • Heat or chills sensation.
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting
  • Paresthesias (feeling of numbness or tingling sensations).
  • Fear of losing control or feeling like they are going crazy.
  • Feel like dying
  • derealization (unreal) or depersonalization (detachment from one’s self).

Note: At least one of the panic attacks has been followed by a month (or more) of one or both the following:

  • Persistent worry or concern regarding additional attacks and their impacts (Going crazy, loss of control, and having a heart attack).
  • A significant maladaptive behavioral change related to the attacks (strategies to avoid panic attacks, like exercises and active lifestyle).

Any other mental disorder does not explain the disturbance ( panic attacks do not happen as a response to social situations, as in social anxiety disorder; in response to the phobic objects, as in particular phobia; obsessions, as in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD); in response to traumatic events, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or in response to separation from an attachment figure, like separation anxiety disorder).

Things Not To Say To Somebody During A Panic Attack

There are certain things that you should absolutely never say to someone during a panic attack. It won’t help the person in calming the situation, nor will it diffuse their panic. Following are some of the things you should avoid saying to people experiencing a panic attack:

  • Don’t say “calm down.”
  • Don’t disregard their state. Refrain from “it is all in your head.” or “It will be fine, or it will pass.”
  • Don’t embarrass or shame them for their condition. Nothing along the lines of “here we go again” or “here comes the drama queen/king.”.
  • Don’t minimize by bringing up your own experiences. “It happened to me too.” “I got anxiety too, and I did this.”
  • “Don’t think of scary things.”
  • “You aren’t trying hard enough.”
  • “You are blowing it out of proportion.”

Avoid all the condescending and minimizing things to someone who is having a panic attack can make the symptoms even worse. This can also make them feel isolated and embarrassed of their condition, and they may not reach out for help.

Encouraging statements is not necessary; sometimes, silent presence can be helpful, or trying out breathing exercises with the person can help them calm down.

How to Soothe Someone During Panic Attack Over The Phone

Helping someone during a panic attack over the phone can be challenging. Nonetheless, it is possible.

When someone is experiencing a panic attack, and you can stay on the phone, whether or on-call or over text. You need to keep them on line if they are not too responsive. Keep reassuring them or send emojis to know you are there through their storm.

  • “I know this is an overwhelming situation, but you are doing a good job. I am proud of you.”
  • “You can get through this.”
  • “Tell me what I can do for you? What do you need right now?”
  • “Stay with me, and keep listening to what I am saying.”
  • “Focus on your breathing. Stay in the present. Breathe with me.”
  • “I may not know exactly how you are feeling, but we’ll get through this together.”
  • “Tell me 5 things that you can touch in your vicinity? Name 5 colors around you right now? Tell 5 smells in the room? Is there anything that you can taste or eat nearby?”
  • “You are a brave young man/lady; you have got this.”

You may not necessarily know how to take out the person from their panic mode over the phone. However, your reassuring presence will be more helpful to the person than you may think. It is suggested to only offer constructive and doable advice; if you can’t do that, it’s best to stay quiet and present with their experience.

It is important to ground the person and ensure they are connected with reality. So if someone is reaching out to you in their time of need, i.e., you must ensure you are sincerely present with them during a panic attack.

Panic attacks can be challenging, and devising coping strategies for such situations is essential to get you through the situations. If you are unable to manage your panic attacks, consider seeking a qualified professional therapist; they will work with you to find the solution.

Conclusion

This guide explored why yelling at someone during a panic attack is damaging. The article discussed how to manage and ground someone when they have a panic attack, both in-person and virtually, over text or phone.

Panic attacks may feel like the world is crumbling apart, and you are dying. Yelling at someone while they are having a panic attack is not only humiliating but downright condescending and inhumane. To the one who is having a panic attack, it aggravates the feeling of loss of control and heightens their emotional condition.

If you experience panic attacks due to loud noises and voices, reach out to us about your coping strategies during such a situation. If you have any questions regarding panic attacks due to yelling, let us know in the comments below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS): Yelling At Someone During A Panic Attack

Can you get angry during a panic attack?

Yes. It is a common sight people with panic disorders or other anxiety disorders can get angry due to the frustration because of their condition. The person may blame themselves or others for their condition, aggravating their resentment and anger.

What should you not say during a panic attack?

Some of the things that you must not say anyone during a panic attack are:

  • Don’t say “calm down.”
  • Don’t disregard their state. Refrain from it is all in your head or it will be fine or it will pass.
  • Don’t embarrass or shame them for their condition. Nothing along the lines of here we go again.
  • Don’t minimize by bringing up your own experiences.

Why does yelling trigger my anxiety?

Frequent yelling can change the brain, mind, and body in multiple ways; increased activity of the amygdala (the emotional brain) causes the increase in stress hormones in the bloodstream. The physical manifestation of anxiety can then be observed in the form of tenses muscles, palpitations, and hyperventilation.

Can you get PTSD from someone yelling at you?

Yes. Yelling is usually a contributing factor in more serious kinds of abuse, for instance, domestic violence and verbal abuse. These events are registered as trauma memory in your brain and body. When a specific sound is played, it can cause a replay of that traumatic memory, putting you into the flight, flight, or freeze mode. Common examples may include someone yelling in anger, a baby crying, screaming, loud noise, etc.

How do you calm down when having a panic attack?

Deep breathing is key to grounding when someone has a panic attack. Ask them to have 5 to 10 deep breaths. 

Another way of grounding is to point out three things that you see around you and find attractive. Three things that you find soothing to touch. Three things that you can smell in your surroundings. Three things that you can hear in your surroundings. Thus, engaging them with their senses will help them return to reality and get them out of their fearful state.

Can being yelled at cause anxiety?

Yes, yelling can induce anxiety in some people. Studies have observed a connection between emotional abuse and psychological issues like depression and anxiety. These behaviors may lead to worsened behavior and may involve self-destructive activities.

References

https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/yelling-at-kids#effects-on-children

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