What do strangers think when someone has a panic attack around them?
Last Updated: 04/15/2019 at 2:02am
Penny Dahlen, Ed.D., LPC
Licensed Professional Counselor
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It has been my experience that strangers typically want to make sure the person having a panic attack is okay and not in any immediate danger. They will often ask to make sure emergency services are not needed. Many people know what it's like to have a panic attack and can help breathe and relax.
I think for the most part, people react with concern or confusion. When something like that happens, people who know what it is react with sympathy and compassion. Those who don't know what it is, probably will lean to the side of confusion.
It fully depends on the individual person, what they have seen before, what they themselves may have experienced, and what kind of person they ultimately are. You cannot know what will be going on in peoples heads around you, but thankfully, in most situations, people are sympathetic. A lot of times someone will be willing to comfort you or sit you somewhere away from the bigger group, so you can get better. In the end, these people are the only ones who matter in the situation, because there's are the only thoughts worth knowing.
Depends person to person really. Some people say in a crowded room don't even notice. In small settings people do. It might unsettle them as what to do next but most people just want to help in any way :)
A lot of the time, when I've had a panic attack in public a lot of people show concern for my situation and are really helpful. I've rarely met someone who lacked any empathy when I have a panic attack in public
they are unsure of your actions. Some will understand and some will not. It depends on the size of the panic attack and where. Some people just don't get it.
I think most of them are supportive and try to help, but from time to time you can see strangers scared by a person that is having a panick atack. It also depends on how you react when you have a panick attack.
If they know what a person with a panic attack looks like, they'll try to help. If don't they might just stand there freaking out too seeing a person experiencing this traumatic experience and/or despair. If they don't help, it might just be they don't know how to. Usually people will try to help, it lays within human nature to help.
They usually wonder if the person is okay, and how they can help them. Sometimes people have never seen people that have had panic attacks, and have no idea what to do. Sometimes they can be confused or worried about the person's health too.
As a stranger, when I see somebody having a panic attack, I understand. I used to have panic attacks often from childhood. Even now as an adult, I still have them from time to time. When I notice that happening to somebody else, I just have the urge to be there for them through that, because I know what it's like to need somebody there that you can just yell, cry, and ask 1,000 rapid fire "AM I GOING TO BE OKAY?" questions.
A stranger might be put off or alarmed by a panic attack if they don't know what's going on. Panic attacks look different for everyone, there is no one set definition on what happens when you have a panic attack. Hyperventilating and crying are just two symptoms that are commonly seen. I think most strangers unfortunately shy away from such situations, alarmed and disturbed. But occasionally you might meet that one kind hearted person who is willing to sit with you and hold your hand while you calm down. They to might just understand what hell it is to have a panic attack.
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