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How can I tell my friends and family to support me before, during, and after a panic attack?

20 Answers
Last Updated: 02/12/2018 at 9:02pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Jennifer Fritz, LMSW, PhD

Clinical Social Work/Therapist

Day to day life can be stressful and overwhelming and my strength is assisting my clients in a supportive, empowering and practical manner.

Top Rated Answers
October 24th, 2014 9:37pm
Panic attacks can often be scary (not only to those experiencing them but to those seeing them from an outside perspective too). I've seen both perspective since I suffer from panic attacks and so does my sister. When I am experiencing them having someone guide me through breathing exercises and rectangular breathing is extremely helpful, also hearing them speak in a low comforting voice say things that make me feel validated and reassured. When I'm in the outsiders perspective, some of the things I do are: allow the person to vent, give them something to hold on to and make sure they are sitting down (or in a not crowded place where they feel safe and comfortable), avoid using words or things that will trigger negative emotions such as invalidating words, names or nicknames, avoid physical contact unless they person experiencing the panic attack lets me know they are comfortable, guide them through rectangular breathing exercise, ask them if they are comfortable with having me around or prefer to be left alone (use body language for this like asking them to nod or shake their head until they feel comfortable enough to speak), bring them water and a napkin after the worst of it has pass.
December 20th, 2014 8:00pm
Before it happens again, think of what would be most helpful to you. Write a list of what you want them to do and when. Tell them about it and make sure they have a copy.
October 23rd, 2014 11:42pm
just ask them if they can watch out for you when you have panic attacks and i'm sure they will understand plenty of people go through this
November 5th, 2014 10:47pm
Just say, i'm feeling really stressed out can you guys give me tips and help me through all this i would really appreciate it.
November 11th, 2014 4:47pm
During a panic attack, it can be very difficult for us to think clearly--it can feel like we are actually dying. Before a panic attack, it may be helpful to tell trusted friends and family members that you have panic attacks and to describe what they are like for you. During a panic attack, ways to calm down vary person to person, but reminders to take slow, deep breaths, remember that this is only temporary, and asking that the person just sit with you, may be helpful. After a panic attack, think about what you'd like from friends and family. Would it be helpful to hear a reminder that you were strong enough to make it through the attack, so you know for the future you can do it again? Would you prefer that friends and family distract you with a game or conversation? We soothe ourselves differently. Communicating our needs and desires in advance is a great way to get support from trusted friends and family.
November 13th, 2014 9:22pm
I have OCD it took me awhile to explain to my parents what to do when I was having an anxiety attack. One think I strongly suggest is to tell them what to do before you are in the state, because once you are in a panicked state, they no longer believe you. Also try explaining what you are going through so that they can sympathize and remember to thank them because they don't have to help you, they are choosing too. GOOD LUCK! I know it can be scary to talk about it with family and friends but it is necessary and I am proud that you are going to :)
November 14th, 2014 8:43pm
They should help you relax in simple ways like rubbing your back, taking a walk, breathing exercises, and try not to overreact ,and allow the moment to pass naturally.
November 17th, 2014 5:52pm
Panic attacks can be hard, everyone has a different way or ways to get over panic attacks. The best way to get help from friends and family is to sit down with them, without any type of distractions (TV, Internet, etc) and explain to them that you have panic attacks and the ways that they can help you get through them.
December 19th, 2014 12:53am
tell your friends and family what is going on with your panic attacks, and tell them what you may need from them before, during and after your panic attacks. Tell them how they can help and how it will make you feel. i told my boyfriend that i needed him to hold me when i am having a panic attack. and i told my grandma she needs to just tell me everything is going to be fine. your friends and family will want to support you and they will be thankful that you're telling them how!
December 24th, 2014 5:09am
You can ask them to support you by telling them the situation you're going to go through. During the panic attack you can ask them to try to calm you down. Afterwards, you can have them help/support you by helping you recover and keeping you calm.
December 28th, 2014 12:43am
Give them an understanding of what anxiety is and how it impacts your life. Let them know when you feel as though you're going to have a panic attack or when you've just had one, let them know how it made you feel. If you incorporate them with the techniques and exercises you use to help manage your anxiety, they can remind you of these when you feel a panic attack coming on.
January 2nd, 2015 9:38pm
Talk about this with them before it happens, in a non-stressful situation. Explain what triggers you have, what to expect you to say or do during the panic attack, and give them a list of helpful tips on how to help you manage it before, during, and after the attack. Know your triggers as well as possible, and find ways to make everything around unavoidable triggers as simple as possible so that all you need to focus on is weathering the storm.
April 1st, 2015 1:20pm
I think it's important to know what triggers my panic. I can then share that with my friends and family and know that I can talk with them about my issues. While I am having a panic attack, it is important for my friends and family to allow me to go through the panic without judging me or trying to make it stop. I suggest that they give me space to breathe while letting me know that they are there to support me through it. When the panic attack is over, I'd like for them to be there for me to comfort me and talk with me about what happened. I can have a frank and open discussion with them while not having a panic attack so that they will know how best to support me.
May 2nd, 2015 3:46am
By being assertive with your communication. Write down what you want them to do for you. Evaluate if its fair for everyone and even possible.
August 11th, 2015 10:44pm
Asking for support can be tough, daunting and even frightening; its important to be honest with yourself and those that you seek to have such attention from, such love, encouragement and support; be you, and just ask, come clean and let them know that you need them before, during and after this time. Take a deep breath, be assertive and respectful; never regret or fear asking for help and support; love and encouragement will always find you.
August 31st, 2015 10:06pm
Make sure your friends and family understand what you are going through when you have a panic attack. Let them know what helps and what doesn't.
March 29th, 2016 4:01pm
Panic attacks are scary, but it's important to know what triggers your attacks. For me, I get triggered in School, the feeling of isolation, being in lifts/elevators. You can explain to your friends and family what triggers you, and how you feel. If you understand what causes them, your friends and family can understand too, and then they can help you. Stay strong :)
November 1st, 2016 9:13pm
When I had to tell my family how to support me with my panic attacks, I had to talk them through a panic attack and what I needed from them. Help them understand how a panic attack happens, why you might get one. That way they can help to minimize the actual panic! Tell them how you're feeling during and after your panic attacks, and some things they can do to help. If you're clear about what you need, they'll be able to help you out a lot more.
December 27th, 2016 11:40pm
Panic attacks are never foreseen. It is very abrupt and one can never see them coming. If I am in a situation of a panic attack, I would ask my friends and family to talk me through it. I am not a very receptive person however I do feel comfort in their presence, especially my husband
February 12th, 2018 9:02pm
Figure out what helps you and write it all down, then talk to them about it and just all learn together about what’s best for you, I have this problem to btw