6 Ways to Help Someone During a Panic Attack

What they need from you is calm, compassion, and support. Here are six strategies to help someone during a panic attack.

Anxiety disorders can make everyday life difficult for those affected. Panic attacks can be especially disruptive and terrifying, leaving the person experiencing†them shaken up and those around them unsure of how to help.

Because mental health tends to be a taboo subject in our society, friends and family of people experiencing symptoms of mental illness often have a hard time recognizing what to do if a panic attack strikes one of their loved ones. Here are some steps to remember if you observe someone experiencing a panic attack.

Helping Someone During a Panic Attack

It may be tempting to freeze up or leave the room out of fear of doing something “wrong”, but if you stick to these basics you will be providing them with a foundation of support during a time that is truly scary for them.

1. Stay calm.

Do your best to remain in a cool, calm, and collected state. Not only will this help you follow through with being a support, but the person experiencing an attack will benefit from your relaxed demeanor.

2. Create a quiet & comfortable environment.

If someone you know is experiencing a panic attack in a crowded or public space, see if they are open to walking with you to a quiet environment. Perhaps they need to sit in an empty office or in their car while they assess what to do next.

3. Ask if they have medications on them that they need to take.

People diagnosed with Panic Disorder may have prescription medications on hand to take if their symptoms become uncontrollable. Ask them if they have medications that may help and grab them a glass of water, if needed.

4. Ask if you can contact one of their supports for them.

Find out if there is a close confidant in this personís life (a family member, partner, friend) who will provide them comfort during this time. Offer to reach out to them.

Also, ask the person if they feel they need immediate professional assistance. If so, dial 911 and explain that the person is having a panic attack and needs an ambulance. Stay with them until help arrives.

5. Speak calmly and compassionately.

Itís not uncommon to become shaky and rushed in a tense situation, but it is essential to try and remain calm and understanding in your communications with the person having the attack.

Ask them what they need and how you can help. Remind them they are supported and safe. It also may be helpful to use grounding techniques with them while help arrives (asking them to identify the feeling of the ground underneath them, the smell of the air, the sound of a clock on the wall, etc).

6. Donít leave them alone unless they make the request (but stay nearby in case they need you).

Panic attacks are anything but predictable. If a person insists on being alone, respect their decision yet stay nearby in case they need further assistance. Check in with them after the attack has passed (assuming they do not require immediate professional attention) and see how you can help them with the next step of their day.

Do what you can to remain a supportive figure during this frightening time in their lives.

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140 comments

W. C
W. C33 minutes ago

Thank you.

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William C
William Cabout an hour ago

Thanks.

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Richard A
Richard Ayesterday

Thank you for this helpful article.

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Sue M
Sue M1 days ago

Useful information - thank you

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Carol S
Carol S2 days ago

Good info, thanks.

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Julia S
Julia S3 days ago

Thank you!

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Renata B
Renata B3 days ago

Thank you.

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Mike H
Mike H3 days ago

Thank you

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Marianne R
Marianne R4 days ago

Thank you

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Marianne R
Marianne R4 days ago

Thank you

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