Helping Someone During a Panic Attack Topic Overview
If someone you know has a
panic attack, he or she may become very anxious and
not think clearly. You can help the person by doing the following: Stay with the person and keep
calm. Offer medicine if the person usually takes it during an
attack. Move the person to a quiet place. Don't make
assumptions about what the person needs. Ask. Speak to the person
in short, simple sentences. Be predictable. Avoid
surprises. Help the person focus by asking him or her to repeat a
simple, physically tiring task such as raising his or her arms over the
head. Help slow the person's breathing by breathing with him or her
or by counting slowly to 10.
It is helpful when the person is experiencing a
panic attack to say
things such as:
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"You can get through this." "I am
proud of you. Good job." "Tell me what you need
now." "Concentrate on your breathing. Stay in the
present." "It's not the place that is bothering you; it's the
thought." "What you are feeling is scary, but it is not
By following these simple guidelines, you can:
Reduce the amount of stress in this very
stressful situation. Prevent the situation from getting
worse. Help put some control in a confusing situation.
You can offer ongoing help as the person tries to recover from
panic disorder: Allow the person to proceed in therapy at his or
her own pace. Be patient and praise all efforts toward recovery,
even if the person is not meeting all of the goals. Do not agree
to help the person avoid things or situations that cause
anxiety. Do not panic when the person panics. Remember
that it is all right to be concerned and anxious yourself. Accept
the current situation, but know that it will not last
forever. Remember to take care of yourself.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
September 07, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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Helping Someone During a Panic Attack Topics