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    Helping Someone During a Panic Attack

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    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 dangerous."

    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.
    1

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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