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Suffering a panic attack is a scary experience. The good thing is that they do not last forever. How can you help a friend, a family, colleague or anyone suffering a panic attack? What do you do to make them feel better? What if it is someone you do not know? Believe it or not, helping someone to calm down seems to be hard but it is not. If you already had a panic attack you may have a better idea. But how about if you have never had one? No worries. We are here to help you!
Firstly, remain calm. Ask if the individual has had a panic attack before. If they say they are having one and are familiar with it you can ask “How can I help?”. Depending on the individual they may feel the need to be left alone. Otherwise, you say “This is scary but you will get through this”. Also, tell them how to breathe as stated in our article “Can you overcome panic disorder? We can help“. However, what if they complain of chest pains or breathing with difficulty? What if they have never had a panic attack? Better safe than sorry, call 911 because they may be having a heart problem.
We will provide more detailed tips on how to help a relative, friend or someone you do not know during a panic attack, what not say to a person, and more suggestions.
How can you help anyone during a panic attack
Handling a friend, relative, or someone you do not know during episodes of intense fears can be a complicated matter. You may be familiar with a friend’s or family’s health condition. How about someone you have never shared a few words with? That’s why we decided to put together some ideas that will help you handle the situation effectively.
Learn about how to fight panic attacks at home without any medications, signs, and how to help others. Go to our home page.
Handling a relative or friend cope with intense fears
If you know a family member or a close friend that suffers from panic attacks the first step is to get informed and know the signs. This what you need to do if you see a loved one suffering a panic attack or intense fears:
- If they are having the symptoms in front of you, always keep calm.
- You may not be sure whether it is a panic attack or anything else. Just ask “How can I help you?”
- If they need to be alone do not take it personally. My husband, like many people, preferred to be alone. Once they feel better she/he will let you know.
- Your loved one may tell you how she/he feels or may just want to talk. When I had my panic attacks I like to talk about anything just to distract my mind. However, sometimes I whined about how crazy I felt or that I would die soon. Your dear one might act like this. Tell her/him “I am here for you” if you do not know what to say. If you have never had a panic attack compassion, patience, and support can make a huge difference. You may hear her/him complaining about any issues or problems. Just say “Everything will be alright” or also have a prayer if your loved one agrees. Then you can talk about her/his issues once the symptoms are gone. Keep in mind that is better to speak in short sentences and use a lower tone.
- If you were in the middle of a date or outing understand that she/he may want to go home. Panic attacks can leave you tired and drained.
- Now, as a word of caution, if they are not sure whether the symptoms are caused by a panic attack, call 911.
How you can help a stranger or acquaintance with the symptoms
You are at the mall, workplace, street or anywhere and you see someone feeling panicky but you are not sure what to do. The individual turned pale, gasping for air, and says something like “I am going crazy” or “I am gonna die”. You freak out and wonder “How can I help her/him? Here are some ideas to help you cope with the situation and assist a person with a panic attack:
- Firstly, it is best to keep calm.
- If you do not know the person introduce yourself and ask “How can I help you” and then you can ask “What are you feeling”?.
- In the event that she or he can’t speak call 911.
- However, if the individual is having a panic attack follow the above suggestions and stay with the person until the symptoms have gone away.
- If she/he is not familiar with the symptoms call 911. You may be sure that the individual is having a full-blown panic attack. However, it is best to call an ambulance since you do not know their health history. Keep in mind that panic attack symptoms are similar to those of a heart attack.
What not to do when someone is feeling panic attack symptoms
Not all of us are familiar with panic attacks. Therefore, if you know someone suffering them you can stay informed. Our site is a great source of information that can help you and your family cope with this anxiety disorder.
Panic attacks can affect anyone and cannot be predicted. So, knowing how to handle someone you love, friend or anyone else having the symptoms will prepare you to face the situation and help them.
However, we may feel too worried or may not be well informed that may say or do anything we should not. Here is a list you should not do or say when someone is having a panic attack:
Raising your voice at someone during a panic attack
Someone suffering from intense fears is at a very high level of stress. Therefore, raising your voice over excitedly will make the situation worse. The more you do it the harder it is for them to calm down.
Do this instead: Speak in a lower tone in short sentences. Keep in mind that someone with a panic attack needs guidance focusing during that moment.
To be overly concerned
Showing excessive worries can make them feel worse. Remember that panic attacks comes from uncontrollable fears that can intensify for any little thing.
Do this instead: Although you cannot stop being worried do not show it. Remain calm and find out what they are experiencing.
Tell them “stop it”
Believe it or not, this is one of the most common reactions especially from people who are not familiar with any anxiety disorder. There is no button or switch to cure or relieve a panic attack. However, you can be supportive and help that person going through a hard time.
Do this instead: Inform yourself about the panic attacks even if you have never suffered them. Our site BreathOutpanicAttack.com is created with the purpose to educate users to help themselves and others cope with the disorder.
To say “I know what you feel”
We all want to be empathic when something happens to a friend or a relative. However, if you have never suffered a panic attack showing support may not be enough unless you had this experience. Then you can share some tips or recommendations.
Do this instead: Telling the person “everything will be fine” or “I am here for you” may work better. If you had suffered a panic attack show her/him some techniques to make your dear one feel better.
Insinuate that nothing is wrong with them
Believe it or not, a panic attack can cause you so much physical and mental distress that you can end up on the bed. I remember feeling so tired that I didn’t want to do anything else. It could take me many hours to feel better and the next day I would stay home.
If you have never suffered from a panic attack, you may have wondered why they just happen suddenly even if the person is having a blast.
That’s how panic attacks are. They can be triggered by severe stress when someone is facing a difficult situation such as a death of a loved one, traumatic experiences, etc. But even they can have them on a peaceful day.
Telling them nothing is wrong with her/him is not the solution.
Do this instead: Again, being supportive can help someone deal with a panic attack. It is important to learn the signs of a panic attack and what you can do to help.
Ignoring the situation
If a friend or dear one is having a panic attack in front of you do not assume everything is fine her/him. Many people suffering from this scary disorder may need help but may not know how to go about it.
Do this instead: If the person has suffered a panic attack encourage her/him to breathe as explained earlier. Otherwise, you can call 911 because as we stated panic attack signs can be similar to a heart attack.
Need help handling your panic attacks?
If you have experienced shortness of breath, nervousness, uncontrollable fears, or feel like you are losing your mind, you may be having a panic attack. However, if it was the first time we suggest you consult with a doctor to be sure. Tell a friend, a co-worker or a loved one about it so they can be prepared to help whenever you need it.
Once you are sure that panic attacks are the cause of your sudden intense fears you can get informed. Our About page explains our experience with panic attacks and how to fight them.
Also, our article How can I stop panic attacks naturally and fast is a great source of information to help you cope and defeat panic attacks. You can also share it with someone who is going through this.
We hope our tips and suggestions have helped you and your loved ones. Anxiety disorders like panic attack are on the rise these days. Do you know that according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America “there are 40 million adults in the United States age 18 years and older” suffering from any anxiety disorder such as panic attacks?
Being informed and familiar with panic attacks will help you and others manage the untrollable fears and its symptoms. They are treatable and yes, you can fight and eliminate them as we have.
B.L.A. is a web developer/designer and writer who enjoys country life in western Pennsylvania, USA along with her husband C.C.A, who is also a contributor, co-author, and editor.
Check out their other blog SmartAroundyourWrist.com.