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How do I deal with Panic Attacks when my friends and family just think I'm being dramatic?

14 Answers
Last Updated: 04/25/2017 at 11:09am
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Jessica McDaniel, LPC, LCPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

I have been practicing cognitive behavioral psychotherapy since 2007 with a diverse group of adult clients with various diagnoses, all races, and socioeconomic classes.

Top Rated Answers
November 3rd, 2015 2:21am
I've gone through this. I was unable to calm down one night and sobbed uncontrollably, and all I could do was yell at them that I couldn't stop. They did not believe that I was struggling for five months. It took a breaking point (a change in our family environment) that caused the break down to scare them into reality. The best I can say is be honest. Start a journal of your symptoms to show your doctor at your next visit. They can handle speaking to your parents.
December 28th, 2015 2:33am
The best way that I have found to deal with it is let it happen, don't bottle it up. Don't be afraid to reach out for help and when it is over, talk to the people around you and let them know how they can help and let them ask questions. People are can get scared or tend to dismiss things they don't understand.
May 30th, 2016 10:30pm
Its always hard when the ones closet to you think your being over dramatic. Some things we cant stop or help, I found sitting down and explaining to my close friends and family why I go through attacks and if they can help and support me would be helpful and make it easier. I find since telling them what I'm going through they now sympathize and help me anyway they can.
December 15th, 2015 4:12pm
Its obvious that you already have enough on your plate when you get panic attacks, but the best way to handle this situation is with compassion. They likely don't understand, and are trying to help but in all the wrong ways. Honestly, when i wasn't doing so well I gave my parents a brochure. It surprisingly helped.
December 19th, 2015 10:02pm
Here are a few methods to try when you actually have a panic attack: 1) Try the 54321 method to calm yourself down. Think of 5 things around you, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you smell or enjoy the smell of, and 1 thing you like about yourself 2) Try challenging yourself to go through the colors of the rainbow and name 5 things that are each color. (Example: blue -- ocean, sky, forget-me-not flowers, sapphire, blueberries) Try not to do things like [color] flowers, candies, etc (so try not to do something like this: red -- red roses, red jelly beans, red butterflies, red crayons, red leaf) 3) Sit down, close your eyes, and take deep steady breaths. Try to focus on the rhythm of your breathing. As for the friends and family part, try calmly telling them how you feel. Also, talking with a trusted adult or counselor often helps people with panic attacks. Hopefully this helps! Lots of love
January 16th, 2015 2:36pm
You can start by asking them if they ever had panic attacks then say, well have me too more than usual.
May 9th, 2015 11:03pm
You have to check your breathing. Often you don't exhale enough, so you just lay your hand on your stomach, take a deep breath and then make sure to exhale properly.
June 23rd, 2015 6:24pm
Try explaining panic attacks and anxiety to them and stick around someone who will support you and help you through it. In the middle of a panic attack it's hard to deal with this, so talking to them openly ahead of time is probably best.
November 24th, 2015 10:52pm
I think most people that suffer panic attacks have this problem. but it's YOUR panic attack, I know that you are crying for help but it's always good to be able to cope with it by yourself to a certain extent. however, your friends and family need to open their eyes and realise how difficult it is to cope with! talk to 'em about it!
December 15th, 2015 11:49pm
Panic attacks are a real part of a anxiety disorder. If you are experiencing panic attacks, it may be time for you to talk to your doctor or health care provider about the best way to handle and treat them. There are many different paths to treatment. Talk to your doctor to help find the best path for YOU.
December 22nd, 2015 11:41am
I would try to explain to them what its like to have a panic attack. Then if they still don't understand just move on, sometimes some people don't need to know what your going through they may not want to understand and that's okay.
February 22nd, 2016 10:36pm
Try a few breathing exercises and try something that will calm you down. It usually helps me when no one is listening during attacks.
July 12th, 2016 12:54am
Express the emotions you are feeling to them. Have them understand that this is real and you are not being dramatic.
April 25th, 2017 11:09am
Personally, I think the problem lies with them and not you in this case but we can't control how others react to thing, only how we react. Try to get to a comfortable, private location, this should allow you the space and quiet to focus on things like your breathing and not how those friends and family are being judgmental about your panic attacks.