Fans of NBC’s family drama This is us may have noticed that Randall Pearson (played by actor Sterling K.Brown) seemed a bit weird at the end of an episode. Of the three Pearson brothers and sisters, Randall is usually the one who seems to have all gathered, but his trembling hands clearly indicate that something was wrong.
Indeed, we learn that Randall has to cope with anxiety since he was a child and panic attacks paralyze him when he is overwhelmed.
Panic attacks are characterized by increased discomfort and intense fear, says James Murrough, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.
He tells us that Randall’s character shows signs of panic disorder, a form of anxiety in which patients experience recurring panic attacks throughout their lives. It’s common for this disorder to begin in childhood, says Dr. Murrough, and in a flashback scene we see young Randall having a panic attack while doing his homework. (His brother Kevin ignores Randall instead of offering support.)
Patients with panic attacks usually have their first panic attack by chance, but after that, stress can be a trigger, says Dr. Murrough. And there is no doubt that Randall has a lot to do: he has been looking for his biological father, William, after 36 years, to learn that the man died of cancer.
Shortly after, he discovered that his mother Rebecca (Mandy Moore) knew who William was from the beginning and she did not tell him anything. In addition, he faces pressure at work and struggles to devote enough time to his family. No wonder it all ends in a panic attack, says Dr. Murrough.
“It was a pretty accurate portrait,” says Dr. Murrough to Health. “When you have a panic attack, you may feel like you are dying or losing your head. “
Randall’s blurred vision is also important: “His blurred vision gave him a sense of detachment or unreality,” says Dr. Murrough. “De-personalization or the feeling of being disconnected from your body is another common symptom of a panic attack. “
Watch the scene below:
Nothing is more important right now. Share this moment of brotherly love, presented by @Chevrolet . #ThisIsUs — This Is Us (@NBCThisisUs) 15 février 2017
On social media, viewers applauded the representation of anxiety (and the fact that Kevin finally arrives for his brother when he needs it the most).
Since the symptoms of a panic attack can be very frightening (Dr. Murrough says it is not uncommon for patients to think of having a heart attack), many patients end up in the hospital the first time . If their doctor determines that they are suffering from anxiety, psychotherapy or medications may be recommended.
It is also important that the patient’s family understands this disorder. But it is not always easy to know how to comfort a loved one who suffers from anxiety.
“The person who witnesses a panic attack for the first time can also be scared,” says Dr. Murrough.
“Comfort is important,” says Dr. Murrough. “By telling them that they will overcome it, and be there for them when they have a crisis. “