Panic attacks can be extremely frightening and can make a person feel completely helpless and out of control. Knowing how to help someone having a panic attack can be the difference between a calming and comforting experience, and a terrifying and overwhelming one. Here are some tips for helping someone having a panic attack:
The most important thing to do when helping someone who is having a panic attack is to stay calm and reassuring. If you start to panic yourself, it can be overwhelming and make the person feel worse. Speak in a calm, gentle voice and maintain eye contact. Let the person know that you are there for them and that they are safe.
Talk to Them
Talk to the person and try to help them focus on the present moment. Ask them questions such as “What is happening right now?” or “What do you need right now?” to help them focus on the present and ground them in the moment. Reassure them that they are safe and that the panic attack will eventually pass.
Encourage Slow Breathing
Encourage the person to focus on their breathing. Ask them to take slow, deep breaths and to focus on the feeling of the air entering and leaving their body. This can help them to calm down and relax.
Try to distract the person from their panic attack by engaging them in conversation or asking them to focus on something else. Ask them to name five things they can see, four things they can touch, three things they can hear, two things they can smell, and one thing they can taste. This can help to bring them back to the present moment and help them to relax.
Provide comfort and support to the person. Give them a hug, hold their hand, or offer to rub their back. Let them know that you are there for them and that they are not alone.
When to Seek Help
If the person’s panic attack does not seem to be improving, or if they have had multiple panic attacks, it is important to seek help. Talk to the person about seeing a mental health professional who can provide them with the help and support they need to manage their panic attacks.
Panic attacks can be overwhelming and frightening, but with the right support and care, they can be managed. Knowing how to help someone who is having a panic attack can make a big difference and can provide comfort and reassurance. If the panic attack does not seem to be improving, it is important to seek professional help.