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How can I explain my panic attack to family and friends without them over reacting?

12 Answers
Last Updated: 12/08/2020 at 7:42am
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Brenda King, PsyD


I treat life changes, women’s issues, and issues of aging using evidence-based treatments with healthy doses of warmth, empathy and humor to enhance healing and growth.

Top Rated Answers
February 18th, 2015 4:24am
Explain it as regular nervousness first (i.e., heart racing a bit for a job interview, stage fright; they know those feelings). Then explain that is is a higher level of that, where everything is accentuated and even more scary. There are different ways people experience anxiety, so of course incorporate exactly what you tend to feel into this.
April 7th, 2015 10:10pm
Try and practice what you want to tell them before you talk to them. Explain them how you feel and what reaction of them would be most helpful for you. You could even print out some information on panic attacks so you are prepared for any questions they might have and if you find it hard to talk about it you can give them these informations as well. Just be open with them and be prepared for any questions they might ask. If they are informed about the subject they are less likely to overreact.
May 11th, 2015 3:58pm
I find it easier to print out articles explaining what panic attacks are and what they may feel like, then I write a letter in my own words how they feel having them, that you want to do something about it, but don't want your family to make it into a big deal. Offer to answer any questions they may have, and try to remain calm yourself. Telling them may be scary, but the first step is always the hardest.
June 16th, 2015 8:50pm
It's very important that you yourself keep it calm and try to explain panic attacks in a very objective way. I think it's also a very important that you tell your friends and family what you're doing right now to prevent panic attacks or learn how to cope with panic attacks. This way they will realize that you're trying to work on it.
September 9th, 2015 8:12pm
First you have to talk in a calm way and with a person you really trust. Maybe you can be alone with this person and then you can explain the situation.
October 26th, 2015 4:02pm
Explaining panic attacks is one of the hardest thing you can do. A lot of people do not understand that what you are feeling is real. They may say that your faking it but you know the truth. The best way to explain it is in a safe environment . You need to let them know that what your feeling is real and they may not understand it but you need their support. just being there and listening will help
December 15th, 2015 8:27am
Anxiety is very common. It can start acting up from abuse, illegal drugs, alcohol and other issues. Counselors know many who suffer and can help those explain how it effects them and give suggestions on how to tell others what they experience. I worry about many things and am honest and detailed on how I feel when I have a panic attack.
January 26th, 2016 5:02pm
explain that it is your body's fight/flight response to what you perceive as stressful or upsetting situations, that it's a natural reaction, and that you need their support to manage your reaction..
June 13th, 2016 2:21pm
Try simply explaining how it makes you feel, and what triggers it. Make sure they know that it is a serious issue, but they don't need to overreact about it.
March 19th, 2018 4:14pm
Well, I mean panic attacks are pretty dramatic but they are ways to deal with it so maybe tell them that they don't need to overreact and describe to them how and when you experience them and what they can do to help. If they don't understand immeadiatly you can also show them articles and stuff like that which might help them understand.
April 6th, 2020 7:56pm
Hello, I'm glad you're reaching out. Communicating about mental health can be a bit scary to think about, especially if it's your first time talking about it. Try being open and honest with your loved ones and assure them that it's okay. Our mental health struggles do not define us and them knowing about your panic attacks should change how they view you. You have always been you and this new information is just another fact about you. After explaining how your panic attacks affect you, ask your loved ones if they have any questions or concerns that they would like you to address. Remember that concern is a natural response and it shows that they care.
December 8th, 2020 7:42am
I believe it's important to first establish a medium of communication in which they have an open-mind. Be sure they know this is something truly important and serious to you, and that you aim for a constructive conversation with them. Precedingly, describe in a non-confrontational way what may be triggering your attacks, as well as your general feelings regarding the subject. If you're unsure of what may be causing your attacks, speaking with your friends or family about general stresses and concerns can help them form a better understanding of how to help and properly give you emotional support.