Jan 24

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How to Really Help Someone During a Panic Attack


How to Really Help Someone During a Panic Attack

You often feel frustrated and helpless as you watch someone you care about suffer from a panic attack. You may feel scared, frustrated and uncertain about what to do. However, you can help them by using the following ideas.

Stay Calm

This may sound like a simple concept, but it is difficult to do in reality. You cannot help your friend or family member if you begin to worry or panic too. It is crucial that you stay calm, so they notice your behavior and try to copy it.

Do Not Leave

You may be tempted to run for help or try to get other people’s attention. However, experts recommend that you stay with the person who is having the panic attack. You may want to ask someone else who is nearby to get help.  I know for myself just having someone beside me who I know won’t leave helps me stay calm.  Often I can’t talk at the beginning of a night panic episode.

Talk To Them

Sometimes talking to the person during the panic attack can help them relax. You want to keep your voice calm, soft and reassuring. You want to acknowledge their feelings without adding guilt or shame. You also want to ask them what you can do to make the situation easier for them if they are able to communicate that to you.   If the panic is so consuming, just sitting beside them and reassuring them that this won’t last long and will get better can be very helpful.

Practice Breathing Exercises

Research shows that breathing exercises can reduce anxiety and offer a simple distraction from the stress. You want to do the breathing exercises with the person who is going through the attack. This will help them feel supported and more focused. It also has the added benefit of making you calmer.

Offer Simple Physical Distractions

For example, you can ask the person to lift their arms or move their legs. These simple physical distractions can help their mind by taking their attention away from the fear and anxiety.

You can help your loved ones through a panic attack by participating in a calm way and helping distract them from the stress. You want to avoid adding extra pressure or surprising them, but letting them know you are there to support them.

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  1. 1
    Amy Green

    I am so glad you chose to mention this! Having panic attacks is a serious situation. It’s good to know that more awareness is being raised and that people have begun to take this condition more seriously. Compassion, listening and kindness are key. Your blog post was great. I will be sure to pass along your tips.

    1. 1.1

      Thanks Amy! I suffer from very bad night panics. So I know how terrifying it is personally.

  2. 2
    Kathleen Kelly

    I occasionally get panic attacks and have learned over the years how to work through them. When I get one they usually last about two days and feel like an elephant is on my chest. I have been on anti anxiety meds for years not and I seem able to get through them now. Of course not working has helped! I am going to share this article with my daughter as she suffers from anxiety also! Thanks.

    1. 2.1

      Thanks for sharing the info Kathleen. You sound like me. My panic after affects last for about 2 days…I get a headache and feel rather disoriented. I too am on antianxiety meds. If I go down indosing, the panic attacks come back badly. I’ve found where I can keep them at bay….thankfully.

  3. 3
    Kimberly “kaflickinger73” Flickinger

    I never knew what to do when someone in my family had a panic attack. I always thought that I was in they way. This is good to know, very informative. Thank you for sharing this information.

    1. 3.1

      Your welcome Kimberly…I suffer panic attacks and it is very comforting to have someone there beside me with they hit.

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