Having a panic attack is a frightening experience- the word panic is in there for a reason. Knowing how to help someone experiencing one can be extremely helpful. Florida psychiatrists say there are a few simple things you can say and do to help someone through the experience.
What To Do
It’s important not to add to the stress when someone is going through a panic attack. Here are few ways you can help.
- Stay with them: Dealing with a panic attack, even when it’s not your own, isn’t fun but abandoning someone in their time of need is only going to make it worse. Even if you just sit there with them it will help.
- Offer medication if they usually take it: Only do this only if you know they usually take medication during an attack. Offering or asking if they need meds when they don’t usually take them just sounds judgmental.
- Move them to a quiet place: The last thing they need is to be in a loud, crowded place. Gently guide them to a quiet, secluded place.
- Ask them what they need: Don’t make any assumptions. Ask them directly what they need from you.
- Speak in simple sentences: When they’re going through a panic attack their mind will be consumed. Talking quickly or in long sentences won’t reach them. Speak slowly, calmly, and in short simple sentences.
- Help them focus: Helping them focus on anything other than their panic is helpful. Ask them to do a simple but tiring physical task. Jumping jacks or raising their arms above their heads is good.
- Slow their breathing: Hyperventilation is a common symptom of panic attacks. Help them slow their breathing by counting slowly to 10.
What To Say
Saying the right thing is crucial to making someone calm during a panic attack. It’s also important not to say the wrong thing. Sometimes you might not have to say anything. Simply sitting with someone through one can be enough. Here are a few phrases that help.
- “Tell me what you need”
- “Concentrate on your breathing”
- “I’m proud of you”
- “You can get through this”
- “It’s just thoughts”
- “It’s scary, but not dangerous”
What To Do After
A person might be shaky, weak, or disoriented after a panic attack. Keep them in a quiet area until they feel better. If it was a location that was causing the attack help them leave.
If they’re in therapy, Florida psychiatrists say allow them to go at their own pace. Always be patient and praise any efforts towards recovery. Even if they don’t meet the goals, any step towards them is amendable. Don’t encourage them to avoid situations that cause anxiety, this just enables them to give into their disorder. Keep calm even when they’re panicked but it’s okay to feel anxious yourself. Most of all remember to take care of yourself too. You’re no help to anyone if you don’t take care of yourself.
Contact one of Florida’s top psychiatrists if you or someone you know is suffering from panic attacks or panic disorder.