How to Help Someone Having a Panic Attack- 9 Tips
Those of us who have had panic attacks know how to help someone having a panic attack. Those that don’t have a panic attack may have no idea how to help, but would like to.
If someone you know is having a panic attack, it can be really difficult to know how to handle it in the moment. The person feels very anxious and is not thinking clearly. They feel like they can’t breathe. One of the main things about panic attacks is that the person has this false belief in the head that danger is happening even though there’s no danger present.
So, panic attack or anxiety attack is when a person exhibits an intense amount of fear or anxiety around a situation or an event when there really is no danger. This can really be scary to people who are around the person having an anxiety attack, because the person is saying,
“I feel like I am going to die.”
“I can’t breathe, I feel like I’m losing control.”
That can be very scary to hear. So, here are some tips on how to help someone having a panic attack that I’ve told other people in my life to help me through anxiety attacks. I really hope it helps you as well.
How to Help Someone Having a Panic Attack- Tip# 1
Recognize What a Panic Attack is:
A panic attack could feel or sound like someone is having a heart attack. The majority of people who have a panic disorder go to the hospital because they feel like they’re having a heart attack or some sort of breathing problem when in actuality, they’re having a panic attack. So, if this person is exhibiting a panic attack for the first time, I would strongly encourage you to go to the hospital for them to get a diagnosis of a panic attack or panic disorder and rule out medical conditions.
There are a lot of different symptoms of panic attacks, but the most common ones are feeling like one can’t breathe, having an increased heart rate, chest pain, or other different types of aches and pain. This includes feelings of losing control, feelings of, “I’m going to die,” and feelings of “I can’t breathe.”
It’s very common to get tingly sensations in the body. For me personally, I get tingling in my hands. I know if I am having a panic attack, my hands start to have these tingly sensations. I can also feel them in my face as well. So, it’s very common to have tingling sensations in the face, hands, feet, any part of the body.
Everyone is different exhibiting these symptoms, but these are just a few of the common ones that I exhibit.
How to Help Someone Having a Panic Attack- Tip# 2
Why does this matter? Why do we need to know what a panic attack is?
In my personal life, I don’t want to embarrass myself in front of people, especially when I’m with my partner. My partner and I have a code word for when I’m having a panic attack. So, we can leave the situation or she can help me through my symptoms. My code word with my partner is, “I’m not feeling well.”
It’s a very simple sentence, but we both know that when I say that to her, that means I’m having a panic attack and I need some support. I think it’s helpful to have a code word with your friends or family members as well. So, you can take the situation back and regain that control, and you can also have someone there to support you and calm you down through the panic attack.
How to Help Someone Having a Panic Attack- Tip# 3
Stay calm. If you’re freaking out and they’re freaking out, it’s not going to help the situation. You both are just going to make the situation a lot bigger. It’s important to stay calm right now. Because, you need to be strong for your friend or family member.
How to Help Someone Having a Panic Attack- Tip# 4
Stay with Them/ Help Them Feel Calm
Stay with the person and help them feel calm. There are a lot of ways to do this. Everyone is different for what they need during a panic attack. For me, it depends on the situation.
Sometimes, I need someone to talk to me through it or I need someone to hold me. Sometimes I just need to get out of the situation. So, communication is very important.
How to Help Someone Having a Panic Attack- Tip# 5
Help Ground Them
When someone is exhibiting an anxiety attack, help them be grounded. A lot of the times when you have an anxiety attack, you’re having a lot of emotions and a lot of thoughts just come into your head. We need to ground this person to calm them down. My favorite thing to do to ground myself or someone else to help me when I’m having a panic attack is talking. Just talking about what’s going on with the situation and working through it helps me feel safe.
Also, what I’ve done in the past is have my partner ask me about a certain event or something that makes me happy. I will describe something to her or just have a conversation to help me get back on track.
How to Help Someone Having a Panic Attack- Tip# 6
When someone is having a panic or anxiety attack, you can implement a breathing technique. What I do is I count my breaths. I slowly breathe and count 1, and after a moment 2, and so on. You can count with the person having the attack. It’s up to them what they want. Breathing techniques are helpful. There are a lot of different types of grounding techniques.
How to Help Someone Having a Panic Attack- Tip# 7
If someone is having a panic/anxiety attack and they normally take medication, offer them the medication, ask where it is, or how you can get it to them. If they’ve taken their medication, just talk to them. Hearing those encouraging words when having a panic attack is really good.
How to Help Someone Having a Panic Attack- Tip# 8
What to Say?
Just talking to the person suffering from an anxiety attack if helpful when you say positive things such as saying, ” I believe in you. I’m proud of you. You’re safe right now. You’re with me. No one can hurt you. The situation is not dangerous.” Those encouraging words can be helpful.
One of the things that I like to hear is, ” you can breathe ” Because my main symptom is my throat. Feeling like closing up. So, I like someone to tell me you can breathe. Or, you’re talking so you can breathe. Breaking that logic down in my head, that really is helpful.
How to Help Someone Having a Panic Attack- Tip# 9
What helps you calm down when having a panic attack? Or, what are some things that people have done to help you calm down that have helped? How have you helped someone calm down from a panic attack? I would love to know, because what helps you could help somebody else.
Comment below your experience.