How can others act when I am having a panic attack?

31 Answers
Last Updated: 04/15/2019 at 6:00pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Jamie Sclafani , LMSW

Clinical Social Work/Therapist

I have an holistic approach to therapy. There is definitely not a "one size fits all" solution. Each person is unique, as is their situation.

Top Rated Answers
Gracey
September 12th, 2014 10:15pm
When i am having a panic attack it helps me when people stay calm, tell me i'm going to be okay, hug me and remind me to breathe.
Artemis6
November 1st, 2014 11:21am
Others would be able to identify the symptoms and help us in ways such as providing support, helps us in doing the deep breathing exercise as well as telling us that what we're feeling is okay and that they understand.
AnnieAnne
November 15th, 2014 8:14pm
Try to distract you, by changing your focus to other things and reminding you of practicing breathing exercises.
heycrysteezy
September 15th, 2015 6:04pm
I think that the best thing another person can do is to let the panic attack happen, and not try to force you out of it. They can offer support, if you're someone who isn't afraid or triggered by being touched, maybe put an arm around you, check on you to make sure you're not hyperventilating or suffocating. When everything subsides, just be there for you as emotional support, a shoulder to lean on.
chasingchaos
November 23rd, 2015 6:47am
The most beneficial way that people have helped me when I have experienced a panic attack is to remain calm. If the other person becomes anxious and afraid it adds to the panic attack. The second thing to do is to help the person breathe. The most effective way to stop a panic attack from spiraling out of control to start to encourage the person to take deep breaths, from the diaphragm and try to help them get their breathing as steady as possible. Some people find it beneficial to use a paper bag to blow into, this helps the person experiencing the panic attack to not expel enough air so that they are not gulping in air. The third thing a person can do is to get the person who is experiencing a panic attack to a safe, quiet place. While helping a person who is experiencing a panic attack to calm down it is important to ask them if they would like to be hugged (touched) or to give the person space, Everyone is different and even the person experiencing the panic attack may need a different approach at different times. If you are asked to not touch the person, remain in close proximity and in view, simply remaining calm and reassuring. The most important act a person can do to help a person while they are experiencing a panic attack is to be supportive, to continue to add words of encouragement and to begin to distract the person once you see the symptoms subsiding. Everyone has different ways that help them get through a panic attack. Some people do not want help and want to be left alone because the added stress of having other people around witnessing your panic attack can increase the length and severity of the panic attack. If you know someone who experiences panic attacks it may be beneficial to ask them what others do that have help them the most so if you are there when a panic attacks occurs you are prepared to help in the best way possible.
thedarkangel
September 12th, 2014 12:56pm
My cousin have a lot of panic attacks. When it happens we need to remind him who he loves, and how bad would that people be if they see him like that
Anonymous
September 13th, 2014 6:09pm
When I'm having a panic attack, it's really important that I get to somewhere quiet and safe. Not having a bunch of people crowding around me really helps!
Fiona73
September 24th, 2014 10:03pm
To be supportive, It may be a good idea to tell friends what helps when having a panic attack so they can help.
Aeowen
October 25th, 2014 1:34am
They can support me and help calm me down. They can also remember that it helps me to get into fresh air or a cold shower.
Aubrey23
October 27th, 2014 1:42am
I find that being distracted is the best form of help when having a panic attack. So I guess keeping the conversation going and not going silent, maybe offering water and if amongst a group taking me away from everyone for a while.
GoodGuyChad
October 28th, 2014 7:23pm
They may find it disconcerting, but they are probably not judging you. They may not be able to fully understand what you are going through.
Alice1210
October 29th, 2014 11:33am
For me, I find it is best that others just hold me, for example hugging, but everyone is different. You need to find a reaction that works for you, and that might be hugging, or holding your hands, or telling you to breathe etc. Some people react differently to different forms of help, and you need to find out what works for you.
kittykat
October 30th, 2014 9:13pm
This is a great and educative guide for helping someone who is having a panic attack, with comprehensive Dos and Donts: http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/helping-someone-during-a-panic-attack-topic-overview
bouncyWriting56
November 2nd, 2014 6:55pm
Personally, I've found that the best things my friends can do for me during is panic attacks is to act normally and not change what they're doing around me, except perhaps turning down any background noise or getting me a glass of water. Your partner, family or close friends might be able to verbally reassure you about whichever issue you're panicking about, hold your hand or touch you, which will help keep your grounded and feel safer.
Urgarlayessica88
November 10th, 2014 10:41am
if they understand what is happening the best thing for them to do , is be extra calm and try to calm you down
Anonymous
November 10th, 2014 9:05pm
Tell them to sit calmly with you and quietly assure you that it will soon pass. If they are unable or unwilling to remain calm, tell them beforehand that they need to leave when it begins to happen. The secret is to educate those who may be around you when the attacks occur so they will understand what you need most during those times.
Anonymous
November 19th, 2014 7:15pm
sometimes it is just nice to have someone there for reassurance. when i have a pain attack i usually call my mom and she tells me to calm down and that i am okay and to drink some water.
Savana13
November 19th, 2014 9:46pm
Calming you gently, taking you from the area it started, sit with you until you're calm, don't act rude or annoyed, among others.
Fyn
May 31st, 2015 6:12pm
It is best if others just leave you too your problems. Panic is normal but when it becomes a problem in our lives its because we are worrying too much. Getting people to help you is feeding these thoughts that something is wrong when all you need to do is think positive and calm down.
bunniesgomoo
June 10th, 2015 12:52pm
It really helps when the other person with you remains calm whilst you are having a panic attack. My friends often try to get me to focus on slowing my breathing down by taking really deep breaths; during really severe panic attacks I like to hold my friends arm and focus on their pulse to help me try to imitate theirs. Another technique that is really helpful is by distracting the person who's having a panic attack. So you can do this by asking questions that are unrelated to how their feeling such as what they plan to eat for lunch or do later on in the evening. One last thing that my friends do is by getting me to ground myself to my surroundings by focusing on certain aspects. So I'll start describing how certain objects feel, what is around me and if anything in particular stands out
PoliteOcean
July 28th, 2015 4:31am
You can have a plan in place for when this happens with your loved ones. Something they can do that makes you feel good, or calms you down. It can be a word, a touch, a game, a plan. Something or a few things that all of you can talk about or decide on together.
Dawnabc
November 30th, 2015 12:44pm
Holding my hand, reminding me to take long breaths and that whatever it is, it isn't the end of the world.
Anonymous
July 18th, 2016 1:05pm
Others could help calm you down by helping you to take deep breathes it take your mind of things or they could Jesse you so that you have some space to calm down by yourself.
Virginia
August 9th, 2016 2:32pm
Calm and assuring, without devaluing how I am feeling. It's okay to reasure me that I am only feeling this in this specific moment, but not okay to say that my feelings are unimportant or "silly". I can change how I think, or what I think, and you can help me, but I can't change my feelings/emotions.
trashcat
August 16th, 2016 6:44pm
Whatever would make you feel better in the situation... just ask for it. It could help if they bring you something to eat or to drink or start asking you questions about your everyday life, because this makes you calmer and distracts you. They could help ou with controling your breathing and breath with you. They can hug you and tell you that everything is okay.
Anonymous
August 22nd, 2016 11:17am
There's nothing like a hug. When someone reminds me that everything will be alright it also helps. I've found human contact and compassion to help. What they can also do is to remind you, calmly, that it is very helpful if you can accept what is happening to you in that moment: accept the emotion and response it's having in your body.
Anonymous
September 6th, 2016 11:17am
They can try to calm you down, and in return you can try to trust them and listen to what they say. If they are good friends and don't panic themselves they will try to help.
Anonymous
November 8th, 2016 2:18am
In order for others to act in anyway you would have to explain to them what can cause it so they can help you when it does.
Anonymous
January 3rd, 2017 11:34am
You can always take a walk! no matter what be the time, you can step up and take a walk right outside ! if you're living in an apartment then a walk down the hall to the gate would be good. If you're in a suburb, take a walk around your lawn. And it doesn't matter what time of the day it is. Chilly walks (in the night) will refresh you and try to listen to music while you walk. Or if it's the middle of the day, you can observe all the activities going about in your surroundings. You'll be surprised to see how easily your mind will be distracted
Anonymous
March 11th, 2019 2:13am
The people around me should tell me to sit down first. Then they should take deep breaths with me or tell me to calm down. I need to hear that everything is fine and that nothing bad is happening. People should be very gentle while they try to calm me down and should not yell or be loud. They should not ask questions or try to make me talk but rather be understanding and patient. If it is in a crowded place then it would be good if i would be taken to a quiet place where there are not alot of people. Personally, i feel calmer when someone puts their hand on my back while talking to me, it makes me feel safer, but only if it is someone i know and trust.