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How can I best support others when they are struggling with a full-blown panic attack?

26 Answers
Last Updated: 10/26/2020 at 2:59am
1 Tip to Feel Better
United Kingdom
Moderated by

Graham Barrone, ICHP, MCBT


If you've found that your quality of life has reduced because of anxiety, fear or some kind of mental hurdle that you just can't get over then lets chat.

Top Rated Answers
June 30th, 2015 10:10pm
Remind them to breathe-- to take slow breaths, in and out. Be there for them as they struggle through it, and remind them that you're not going to leave them alone. Empathize, and suffer through the attack as they do.
November 17th, 2015 5:22pm
Communicate with them, Hold them in a caring way, ask them if they want to go out or lay them down and ask them to breath in and out. My best friend struggles a lot with panic attacks and both of us go to a medical program :)
December 31st, 2019 10:04am
The best way to support someone having a panic attack is to hold them tight, embrace them in a bear hug. Help them slow their breathing, calm their heart rate and let them know that you are there for them. Take them somewhere quiet to eliminate distractions or embarrassment on their part. Make sure they feel safe in their surroundings and offer to get them something to drink once they have calmed down a little. Let them know that you support them. But if they ask for space, give them space. It's more about what they need. Hope this helped.
February 27th, 2015 1:29am
Try to ground them. Remind them where they are, who they are, suggest they hold something and squeeze it. Breathing exercises also help.
February 27th, 2015 9:52pm
be there for them. let them know it will be ok and that you wont leave them. remember though, while in a panic attack, the person may not want to be around anyone. if that is the case, give them space but still be there to help them when they are ready to be around you.
April 9th, 2015 2:35pm
Stay with the person and keep calm. Offer medicine if the person usually takes it during an attack. Move the person to a quiet place. Don't make assumptions about what the person needs. Ask. Speak to the person in short, simple sentences. Be predictable. Avoid surprises. Help the person focus by asking him or her to repeat a simple, physically tiring task such as raising his or her arms over the head. Help slow the person's breathing by breathing with him or her or by counting slowly to 10. say things like "You can get through this." "I am proud of you. Good job." "Tell me what you need now." "Concentrate on your breathing. Stay in the present." "It's not the place that is bothering you; it's the thought." "What you are feeling is scary, but it is not dangerous."
April 19th, 2015 7:06pm
The best thing you can do to help others when they are having a panic attack is letting them know you are there for them, and that you are there to give them comfort and support.
April 30th, 2015 8:28am
Reassure them that they are safe, and everything is okay. Try to distract them- put on a movie, or offer to make food. Remember to not make any sudden movements or touch them without asking first- this can worsen it. Stay calm and relaxed.
May 21st, 2015 1:52pm
If possible get them to a secluded or quieter area. Just sit with them and let them know that it is all going to be okay and that you are there for them. Possibly get them some water or a calming item if they have one. Where as anxiety attacks are short and usually have a trigger, panic attacks are longer and come with no warning, and may scare the person having one. Just stay with them, stay calm, and try to get them to breathe deeply until they can say how they are feeling
May 27th, 2015 9:23pm
I find that controlling my breathing helps majorly, it helps me to stop worrying and focuses me on my breathing, I usually use the rule. "Inhale...1...2...3...Exhale...1...2...3...Repeat"
June 7th, 2015 9:05pm
Give them calm, reassuring, supportive words. Ask if they can take a deep breath and close their eyes.
January 11th, 2016 7:38pm
First of all, you have to understand what they're experiencing: feelings of anxiety so strong it becomes uncontrollable and pours out as this horrible, terrifying feeling. If you wish to comfort them, the best thing to do is to comfort them soothingly, let them know that everything will be fine and that you're there for them. If you know the person well, get them to whatever comforts them. Sometimes, however, a person having a panic attack will want to be left alone to calm themself down. If this is their wish, respect it and let them be.
April 12th, 2016 6:04am
They might want space. They also might want you to be there for them. It isn't best to assume so I suggest asking them before hand. Overall, checking up on them is good.
May 9th, 2016 8:50pm
If your with someone an they have a full blown panic attack is to make them feel safe an try to distract them away from the panic....
May 23rd, 2016 6:42am
Be there for them. Help them steady their breathing. Tell them how good they are and that it's going to be okay because having an attack is scary.
June 2nd, 2016 4:24pm
You should just sit with them, and ask them what you could to to help as everybody may need different things to feel better. However as a general rule, getting the person to breathe with you can help them slow their breathing and eventually calm down.
June 6th, 2016 11:12am
Give them a hug if your in person with them. Ask them what theyd like to do . spend time with them. Also say take a deeo breath that helps. If your over. The phone or chat just talk about whatever they wanna talk about be their friend help them get their mind of it.
June 7th, 2016 1:27pm
Well in my personal experience of panic attacks some people may want to be comforted others may just need time to let it pass, But if they do want you to help usually the best thing to do is just let them know you're there and that you care, DON'T TELL THEM to calm down this doesn't help and may make them feel worse, you can help them do some basic slow breathing which should help them relax.
August 9th, 2016 3:45pm
Tell them that everything will be okay and to just take some deep breaths and maybe give them a little cup of water if you can
June 12th, 2017 7:30am
Be supportive and empathic towards what they are going through. Believe me a panic attack is a truly frightening experience.
May 1st, 2018 12:21am
When someone is struggling with a panic attack it is best to comfort them and make them feel secure. Sometimes it's best to reassure them and wait for the panic attack to finish.
July 23rd, 2018 5:20am
Just stay with them and be there for them. Remind them to take deep breathes and don't rush. Stay by there side.
July 24th, 2018 12:33pm
Physical reassurance, if that is helpful for that individual. Most often, verbal reassurance is plenty. Let them knkw you care and are there for them.
September 23rd, 2019 6:48pm
You can help them through using some coping methods to help calm them down. These can vary person-to-person, although there are some strategies that work fairly well no matter who they are. One of these is to use controlled breathing- guide them to breathe in and out at a slow pace to help them focus on something else. Another way is to help them refocus on the environment- 54321 is a good method. Run through the five senses and ask them questions- “What are 5 things you can see? What are 4 things you can touch? What are 3 things you can hear? What are 2 things you can smell? What is one thing you can touch?”. I’ve found that this is the most effective of general coping methods, but I want to offer one more too: if the person is in a place where they can speak, sometimes asking them questions about their panic attack can help. “What caused it? Have you had one before?” (This method also works extremely well for flashbacks). By no means are these the only methods to support someone during a panic attack, but they are quite useful and work about 90% of the time.
January 28th, 2020 5:51am
Hold their hands softly if they don't have any issues with that and ask them to breathe deeply with you. Offer them some water which they could sip or drink slowly. If they are comfortable, give them a hug and just allow them to vent for a while, you can softly pat or stroke their back or arm. Let them know you're there to help, listen and understand them. Just try not to force or make them feel like you're in their personal space, that can further make the situation worse. Also it's best to not say things like you'll get over it or chill or calm down, their current situation is not in their control.
October 26th, 2020 2:59am
The best way to help someone when they are having a panic attack is first by using very simple instructions. When they are having a panic attack they are not going to be able to follow many instructions. Next, you need to get them to a calm, low stimulating environment. Overstimulation can progress the overwhelmed feeling they are having. Finally, you need to make sure their airways are open and they get their breathing controlled. This is important so they do not pass out from hyperventilation. If they are not able to calm down contact a provider or paramedic for further assistance.