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How can I tell someone that I'm having a panic attack, if I feel that I can not breathe or calm and neither talk?

19 Answers
Last Updated: 04/28/2020 at 11:37pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Lisa Groesz, PhD


With evidenced based therapies, we find the root of the problem together to implement solutions. We all face crises, transitions, or disorders at some time.

Top Rated Answers
April 11th, 2015 4:50pm
Most people will get the message if you hold the palm of your hands to your chest, and slightly waft it - to signal you can't breath.
July 27th, 2015 8:04am
If you can i would suggest writing it down or using sign language. Because panic attacks are frequent with me i normally make it a point to let people know what my signs are, my personal symptoms and the movements i make to let them know what i need.
January 6th, 2016 7:46pm
Trying to communicate during a panic attack is difficult. A better approach would be to try and identify what situations, thoughts or feelings are likely to trigger one and where these things are most likely to occur. This helps you to identify the onset of an attack and alert somebody you trust in the future.
July 20th, 2015 9:05pm
I feel a crushing pain in my chest rapid breathing and pins and needles in my hands/fingers the thing I try which tell me for sure its a panic attack is a breathing exercise I was taught, I will say I was sceptical and embarrassed when this was suggested to me but it seems to help me first you think of an imaginary dragon and you need to go into details with your dragon for example what colour is it, does it have scales or is it smooth, what type of eyes does it have etc next you imagine you are that dragon and think of how a dragon breathes fire take a breath in and open you mouth (very important) and breath out all the air in your stomach reapeat the breath but focusing on the imaginary dragon what it looks like WTC and then doing the breaths have really helped me because everything retuns back to normal but this may not work for others this is just my experience
April 3rd, 2015 2:39pm
By Showing the person that you're feeling uncomfortable, who would have a better idea of what you're going through.
April 3rd, 2015 5:24pm
You could always write it on a piece of paper. If you don't feel the urge to tell them, or you can't tell them, it may be easier to write it down and just have them read it
September 29th, 2015 5:40am
It is not easy to communicate while having a panic attack. The best way to do is to identify how you feel before the full panic attack starts. Being able to recognize that you are feeling this way makes it more easier to tell someone how you feel.
February 9th, 2016 2:58am
Try to tell people in advance that you have panic disorder, explain what it looks like so they will know and you don't need to say a word!
July 12th, 2016 12:29pm
You just have to say it with the little voice you have. During a panic attack the only thing you can do is breath in and out in a slowly way, also if this is hard.
May 23rd, 2017 9:00pm
From my experience, if it's to that point, communication just isn't possible. You however can communicate what happened afterwards so the person has more of a clue what to look for next time to know what's going on.
November 7th, 2017 3:06pm
It may be a good idea to let your closest friends know that you have panic attacks to begin with. That way, when one does occur, they'll know what to look for and how to help. It's good to discuss these things with the people closest to you; they can be a huge help if and when you do have the dreaded panic attack. Sometimes you can even feel it coming on and have enough time to give a small warning. I think if you look your friend straight in the eye during your attack, the look in your eyes will tell it all. If you've had the talk before, they should guess what's going on and hopefully be able to calmly talk you through it and get you breathing deeply again.
September 3rd, 2019 10:11am
I have had this problem myself, when I have a panic attack and can't tell anyone, I feel trapped and helpless. That is the worst feeling to have in that moment. My friends and I came up with a signal that I can do without speaking so they know I am having a panic attack. I either squeeze someone's hand or tap on a surface loud enough so they can hear. In public, I use the hand squeezing more often so I don't attract attention to myself. Work with your friends and family to come up with a method that works for you, everyone is different! I hope this helps :)
April 28th, 2020 11:37pm
Just try your best to communicate to communicate to them what is going on. Usually your body language can help people understand that you are having a panic attack. Try your best to calm yourself so you can explain what is happening. Breathe and clear your mind of bad things and think of good things to help you become more communicable. Use strategies from past panic attacks to help or use past experiences to help you relax to the point in which you can talk. In the past I have just broke down crying and the person I wanted help from immediately hugged me and tried to help.
April 16th, 2015 4:32am
If you need help dont be shy go tap someone on the shoulder and do your best to show them with your facial features.
April 18th, 2015 8:15pm
try to grab a pen and piece of paper or use your phone/tablet/computer to type it to let someone know without speaking
January 5th, 2016 5:49pm
In my experience, its a good thing to find out what situations give you panic attacks. Because if you have a friend or someone you know in these situations you can create a way of awaring them without having to say it, like a wave or some signal.
May 30th, 2016 6:30pm
It's usually fairly easy for someone to recognise the signs of a panic attack, but if not for your friends/family pre-warn them of the signs and what to do if you are having a panic attack.
April 4th, 2017 11:40pm
You should tell someone you are prone to panic attacks and make them aware of the signs that you might be having a panic attack.
December 4th, 2018 8:06am
You tell them by giving signals to them. You show them that your heart is elevated by showing them by pointing to your heart. And then show them by sitting down that your not feeling well and if your having a hard time breathing then point out that to the person that your having the attack with in the sense so that they can help you. I mean this is a very difficult experience for the person that is having the attack and you have to remain calm on your end and watch out for the signs of the person that is truly having the attack as well.