Skip to content

Helping Someone During a Panic Attack

Font Size

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:

Recommended Related to Anxiety Panic

Beyond 'White Coat Syndrome'

When Dorothea Lack was a little girl, she hid under a doctor's desk to avoid a vaccination. Undaunted, the doctor crawled under the desk and vaccinated her then and there. Lack said the incident provoked a fear of doctors that followed her into adulthood. "I didn't feel I could trust them," says Lack, PhD, now a psychologist who performs research on doctor-patient relations. It's a rare soul who truly enjoys visiting the doctor. But for a significant minority of the population, fear and anxiety...

Read the Beyond 'White Coat Syndrome' article > >

  • "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: September 07, 2012
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.
Next Article:

Helping Someone During a Panic Attack Topics

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

feet
Solutions for 19 types.
MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
pregnancy test and calendar
Helping you get pregnant.
man rubbing painful knee
A visual guide.
lone star tick
How to identify that bite.
woman standing behind curtains
How it affects you.
brain scan with soda
Tips to avoid complications.
row of colored highlighter pens
Tips for living better.
human lungs
Symptoms, causes, treatments.
woman dreaming
What Do Your Dreams Say About You?
two male hands
Test your knowledge.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.