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How to Help Someone with Panic Attacks

By Edited Sep 22, 2015 6 9

If you are with someone helping them make it through a panic attack there are some things to remember. This advice is more about how to help people with panic attacks in the long run and not just during the event.

Assure them that they are normal

When first experiencing these attacks, a common question they ask will be, “Why do I have panic attacks?” During this time, they may think they are crazy and that everyone will think so. Assure them that this is not the case, and that others experience this all the time.

The source of the attack is rooted in falsehood.

The reasons for panic attacks can be many, but usually because someting untrue has come to their mind and they believe it. They believe  they are about to die because they lost their job. They believe it’s the end of the world because someone might think something bad about them. A thought comes to them about what MIGHT happen, which causes stress and anxiety. Once the person is calm, help them find the source of the thought that triggered the panic attack and apply truth to the situation. You can also do this during the attack, because it helps the person know the truth. The more truth, the better. Stick to basic truths like "You are going to live," and "It's OK."

Anxiety and Depression
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The person is not trying to manipulate you

This may sound odd, but one of the feelings that come across is that of manipulation. This is actually not the case, and the person is not trying to manipulate you, but it will feel like it. If this happens you need to be patient with them.

Panic attacks are not a one-time thing.

The person suffering from the attack has probably had three or four stressful events happen in the recent past, and now little things can tip them over.  Sometimes it seems like they are getting better, but until you are sure, you should still be patient and kind around them because small things can have a huge effect on them.

Tell them that everything is OK.

This is an important step. When they are going through the panic attack, assure them that everything is OK. They are experiencing feelings and thoughts that are telling them things are NOT OK. Make sure they know it is and no body is going to die.

Do not take anything personal.

This is especially true if you are close to the person. They will say things and do things that are out of desperation. They may even say things that will hurt you. If they do, you need to make a rule with yourself that everything they say during this period of time can and should be ignored.

Sad Man and Rain
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Do not spend too much time with them.

You love this person and you care for them, but if you spend too much time with them, you will begin to have symptoms of panic attacks yourself. In order to be of best help to them, make sure you get space. This also helps them overcome anxiety on their own. One should not be left alone during an attack, but once it is past, they sometimes need to work through the lies they believe on their own.

Make sure they are exercising

and sleep

During a panic attack, the brain thinks that something bad is happening. When this happens, it tells the body to go into emergency mode. The heart starts hurting because so much blood is going there. It wants to preserve the vitals. If we exercise, we exert energy and help spread that blood to other parts of the body. Before the attack takes hold, sometimes it’s good to have them take a walk. It will help clear the head and decrease the adrenaline.

They also need to make sure they are getting enough sleep. Sleep helps them deal with the attack a lot better. Sleep gives you the ability to handle it.

Do not try to figure out the solution to the problem.

Whatever triggered the attack is not the root problem. Remember, the root problem is not the event. The root problem is their ability to handle the event with truth. The worst thing you could do is start interrogating the person. They don’t need the problem fixed right away; they just need to be assured they are not alone and that everything is OK. For example, if your girlfriend suffers from panic attacks and she has one because of something you said. Do not try to go back to the problem and fix it right away or at all. She’s not so much dealing with what you said, as much as everything else going on in her life. You just happened to tip it over.

Do not ask questions

Even if they are as simple as, “Do you want to move from here and go to the couch?” Generally, they are trying to just make it through and become overwhelmed by even the simplest of questions.

Hopefully these tips are helpful. This does not come from a medical perspective, so make sure you consult your doctor. These only come from experience. Let us know in the comments below how you have dealt with panic attacks.

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Comments

Jun 4, 2012 5:07am
askformore
I believe that your tips are very helpful; - in the actual situation and afterwards.
Jun 4, 2012 8:49am
cougar8806
yes, I've actually had to personally deal with this! :)
Jul 15, 2012 10:28am
Ascentive
Impressive article!
Thanks for the useful tips.

~Anja~
Jul 16, 2012 12:47pm
cougar8806
Thank you so much!
Jul 15, 2012 2:25pm
crater
Nice article. I have a friend that had all the symptoms of panic attack. Now i know what to do when something like this happen again.
Jul 16, 2012 12:47pm
cougar8806
Your welcome! I hope it helps!
Jul 16, 2012 3:24am
ObservingVessel
Thank you for the helpful and useful tips! Nice article, congrats on the feature! Well deserved!
Jul 16, 2012 12:47pm
cougar8806
Yup! Thanks!
Jul 18, 2012 8:22am
Bobski606
A very useful article. Someone close to me has started to have panic attacks and with these tips we can get through them much better than before.
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