Knowing what to do when someone is having a panic attack can be incredibly useful information. Here are a few tips on what to do and say while someone is experiencing one.
What To Do
Keeping a person calm during a panic attack and not adding to their panic is the most important thing. Here are a few things you can do to help them.
- Stay with them: Even just sitting in silence with someone having a panic attack is incredibly helpful. It shows them that they’re not alone in this.
- Offer medication if they usually take it: Only do this is you know they usually take medication during a panic attack. Otherwise, it just comes off as judgmental.
- Move them to a quiet place: Noise, people, and activity can add to the panic. Gently guide them to an isolated and quiet place.
- Ask them what they need: It’s so easy to assume what someone needs but when they’re having a panic attack just ask them directly what they need from you.
- Speak in simple sentences: During a panic attack their mind will be filled, so keep your sentences short and simple.
- Help them focus: Pulling their focus away from their thoughts helps calm them down. Ask them to do a simple yet tiring physical task like holding their arms above their heads or jumping jacks. This will pull their focus and regulate their breathing.
- Slow their breathing: People tend to hyperventilate during a panic attack. Make them count to 10 and take deep breaths to steady and slow it.
What To Say
Saying the right thing can also have an impact on someone going through a panic attack. It’s important to not make them more panicked or come off as judgmental. Here are a few phrases to consider saying.
- “Tell me what you need”
- “Concentrate on your breathing”
- “I’m proud of you”
- “You can get through this”
- “It’s just thoughts”
- “It’s scary, but not dangerous”
What To Do After
It’s important to continue to support your loved one even after the panic attack has passed. If they’re in therapy allow them to go at their own pace and praise them as they take steps towards recovery. Psychiatrists warn people not to be enablers. Don’t encourage them to avoid certain situations that cause anxiety.
Contact us today to talk about what more you can do to help or to seek treatment for panic disorder.