How To Support Someone Experiencing A Panic Attack

How To Support Someone Experiencing A Panic Attack

Panic attacks are abrupt episodes of intense fear and anxiety that can last for up to 20 minutes. These events can be incredibly distressing for both the individual experiencing them and those who witness them. Fortunately, there are ways you can help. By adhering to the following suggestions, you can offer much-needed support and contribute to a sense of calm during an otherwise frightening and bewildering situation.

Recognizing the Signs of a Panic Attack

To assist someone having a panic attack, it is crucial to first recognize that they are indeed experiencing one. Here are some common signs and symptoms to watch for:

  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Sweating
  • Appearing flushed and hot
  • Sudden inability to speak or move
  • Loss of balance
  • Nausea or vomiting

How to Help

1. Maintain your composure

Staying calm when interacting with someone experiencing a panic attack is vital. Keep in mind that they likely feel frightened and out of control, so avoid exacerbating their anxiety by appearing panicked yourself.

2. Provide reassurance

Speak gently and soothingly while offering reassuring words. Remind the individual that they are safe, that it’s just a panic attack, and that it will pass. Use phrases like, “You’ll be alright,” “You can get through this,” and “I’m here for you.”

3. Inquire about their needs

People respond differently to panic attacks, so it’s essential to ask what might help them feel better. Do they require a glass of water? Would they prefer to go outside for fresh air?

4. Encourage slow, deep breathing

Focusing on slow, deep breaths can effectively calm someone during a panic attack. Rapid, shallow breathing can exacerbate the sense of panic, so ask the individual to breathe deeply in through their nose and out through their mouth.

5. Assist in finding a safe, quiet space

If the individual is in a stressful or triggering environment, help them locate a calmer, more secure area. Whether that’s a quiet room or an outdoor space with nature, a less stimulating environment can help alleviate the intensity of the panic attack and promote relaxation.

6. Stay with them until the panic attack subsides

Having a calm, supportive person nearby can be a significant source of comfort and reassurance, helping the individual feel safer.

7. Recommend professional treatment

After the panic attack has subsided, encourage the person to seek help from a professional. A therapist or mental health care provider can help them understand their triggers and develop strategies for managing future panic attacks.

In Conclusion

Witnessing someone having a panic attack can be daunting and overwhelming. However, by following the tips above, you can provide the support and assistance needed to guide someone through a panic attack. Remember, you can’t “cure” a panic attack, but your presence and reassurance can be invaluable in helping them navigate through it.

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