March 7, 2011

First Aid For Anxiety Attacks

By: Rhonda Craig, Ivanhoe Health Correspondent

(Ivanhoe Newswire) --A pounding heart, sweating, and an upset stomach. At some point we've all felt some form of anxiety, but when the signs and symptoms become so severe that they interrupt daily activities there's a chance it could be something more severe.

"You've heard about people who went to the ER because they thought they had a heart attack only to find out they had an anxiety attack, but they don't know because it feels the same," Marie Dudek, Mental Health First Aid Instuctor, told Ivanhoe.

According to Anxiety Matters, at any given time, around 13 percent of Americans will suffer from an anxiety disorder of one kind or another. For that reason, the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course devotes a lot of time to teaching participants about what anxiety disorders look and feel like.

"They're different from that of normal stress. It's more severe, lasts longer and interferes with work and relationships," Dudek said.

 MHFA is like CPR-training for the mind. Through a 12-hour certification course, MHFA participants are equipped with knowledge about several mental health disorders and how to respond to them before professional help can be administered.

New research released in the journal, Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review shows that about one in 10 children and teens suffer from an anxiety disorder. Both the physiological and psychological disturbances can have serious long-term effects if left untreated. Knowing this, MHFA suggests people intervene when they witness someone having an anxiety attack rather than waiting on professional help. MHFA instructors say it's important to remain calm and reassure the individual that they're safe.  Since every attack is different there are many different ways to help a person, but Dudek says open communication is good for any situation.

"We don't need to memorize 142 different tactics on what to do. What we need to do is show general concern, and that's going to open them up to talk to us so they can explain what's going on," Dudek concluded.

SOURCE: Mental Health First Aid Certification Course, March 1, 2011