Panic Attacks

If a person you love/ care about or a friend suffers from panic attacks, there’s a lot you can do to try and help them. 

Nine times out of ten nobody knows what to do and nearly all the time everyone just stares at you and thinks your looking for attention or your just a cry baby. So In this article I’ll be giving some top tips on how to help people whilst there having a panic attack.

I know I’ve written one before but it’s always good to have a little refresh! 

The ‘Do’ list: 

 – Do remind the person having a panic attack that they are in no way obligated to stay where they are. They can leave if they are panicking, don’t pressure them to stay where they are. 

Do assure them there is nothing to be afraid of. Someone experiencing a panic attack will probably find it a lot harder to rationalize the fact that there’s no real reason to be panicking, that’s the sad truth. Remind them they are completely safe and that you are there to help them through this.

Do let them know that it’s only temporary. Panic attacks don’t and will never last forever. Despite the terrible mental state the sufferer is in. 

Do encourage them to breathe. Breathing is particularly difficult during a panic attack and someone experiencing it could forget to breathe properly. Tell them to take a deep breath in for four seconds, then let it out for four seconds and repeat. Breathing helps, but it only helps when done correctly. Another way that I found was to make sure my feet are flat on the ground to ‘ground’ myself with the floor. It helps keep me grounded and to re focus on everything. 

Do attempt to have an engaging conversation with them. Chances are if you’re a friend, you know what piques the person’s interest. Try to casually bring the topic up. Don’t bombard the person in a panic attack with a lengthy conversation as this could be overwhelming. 

Do stay with them!! If the person panicking wants you to leave, it’s most likely the anxiety talking. More often than not, a panic attack only gets worse if the person is left alone to suffer through their own thoughts. Stay by their side no matter what.

The ‘Don’t’ list:

Don’t let denial fool you. No matter how comfortable I am around a person, if they ask if everything’s okay when they accurately sense something is not, I assure them everything is fine. Don’t let this fool you.

Don’t tell them to calm down or relax. This is a huge no no, it never helps normally during conversation so it’s best not to say it whilst someone is suffering from a panic attack. 

Don’t ask why they’re panicking. The sufferer probably knows just as much as you do in that moment.

Don’t brush it off. You might be in the company of someone who is pro at panic attacks. Don’t brush off or ignore any panic attack, no matter what the circumstances are. 

Don’t bullshit. “Look over there at that bird!” “Stare at me for 10 seconds.” “Close your eyes and picture a nice glowing star.” No, no, and no. Don’t bullshit someone while they’re in a panic attack. None of that works and you know it.

Don’t seem irritated or judgmental. This sounds obvious, but it’s important. One of my biggest fears is that when I’m having a panic attack, I’m annoying people or ive ruined a good evening/ event due to how I am. Even if you are somewhat annoyed, maintain composure and keep in mind that you are nowhere near as annoyed as the person actually experiencing the panic attack. 

The main thing to remember is be there for them. Don’t be a d**k or over sensitive. Be yourself, talk them through it and help them. Anxiety and panic attacks don’t disappear over night or ever at all. So help not hinder. 

Yours truly 

Sophie x

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