How To Help Someone Having A Panic Attack: 8 Easy Ways To Help

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How to help someone having a panic attack
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A panic attack can be unpredictable. Your best friend or any acquaintance can encounter a panic attack in the middle of perfectly going on with life. Most of us know how to help in certain critical situations. We all have kept the first aid box handy.

But what about a panic attack? Are you aware of different ways on how to help someone having a panic attack? What sort of first-Aid is needed in a panic attack?

To help someone, you must be aware of a panic attack and some of the evident symptoms.

How to Define a Panic Attack?

Before we learn how to help someone having a panic attack we must be aware of what is a panic attack. A panic attack involves a fear rush that makes you feel you can’t control your body. It often appears something unknown is happening to you.

Encountering a panic attack once or twice is acceptable and fine but, if you continuously live under the fear of a panic attack, it can cause panic disorder.

What causes a panic attack is still not known. Still, some possible reasons could be your genetics or how one perceives stress. The worst part is it comes without an alarm. It just happens in the middle of anything like doing your daily chores or talking with a friend. Panic attack silently sweeps in.

What are the Early Signs and Symptoms of a Panic Attack?

how to help someone having a panic attack
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Panic attacks are defined differently by each one. Every episode of a panic attack is different from others. But some common and evident symptoms appear at the time of the panic attack. How to help someone having a panic attack in the most appropriate way? The answer could be recognizing their symptoms earliest.

Such symptoms arise and will keep growing for minutes that might stay for more than a couple of minutes, and afterward, everything gets normal. These attacks are very draining. They just steal your energy, and you are left feeling lethargic.

Some of the most common symptoms are sweating, feeling your body is trembling, or shaking. Some say shortness of breath or choking feeling as if something is strangling around the neck. 

Running of chills through your body, hot flashes, or nausea are also some symptoms of a panic attack. Headaches, dizziness, or suddenly feeling numbness and tingling sensation.

Some other symptoms are:

  • Sense of feeling yourself in danger
  • Fearing of death or something bad will happen
  • The sudden increase in heart rate or feeling your heart is pounding.
  • Cramps
  • Pain in chest
  • lightheadedness, or feeling as if you are going to faint.

What are the Causes of Panic Attacks?

What causes panic attacks is not yet correctly known. But several other factors have a roleplay in these attacks. Such factors are:

  • Genetics 
  • Any family history
  • Lifestyle or stress in life
  • How one manages stress

The one thing is how you are managing your life and stress. If you are prone to negative thoughts and feelings, there are more likely chances of experiencing panic attacks.

If you have a history of anxiety disorders or panic attacks in your family, there are likely chances of your experiencing such attacks.

What is the Prevalence of Panic Attacks?

According to research, approximately 4.7% of U.S. adults experience panic attacks during their life, at least once. Another fact highlighted by this research is that panic attacks are more in women than in men. Approximately, panic attacks were found more in females (3.8%) than in males (1.6%).

How to Help Someone Having a Panic Attack?

What could be some impeccable ways of helping? What steps to be followed and how to help someone having a panic attack? What sort of first aid or assurance can make the situation better for them?

Well, there is no medication better than you being with them but as it is a fear rush try to help them feel safe. There are a few things you can do those are:

1. Try to Remain Silent During the Panic Episode

We understand seeing somebody in trouble the first thing we do is to go straight to them and ask what is wrong with them. But during a panic attack, the person experiencing it might not be able to tell his ordeal to you.

Before trying to calm them you should remain silent and calm. Just be present there, but it is preferred not to talk during that episode. If the person tells you it’s OK, but do not compel them to reply. 

Remember panic attack is like a tide of a sea, that surges high and then drops down so, you must wait for its dropping down. Once everything comes back to normal, the person will tell you but don’t force them. Let them relax!

2. Breathing can be difficult, so you Have to Help them 

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Shortness of breath or feeling heavy on their chest are some of the common symptoms of a panic attack. Now you must be thinking about how to help someone having a panic attack especially when they are feeling suffocated.  

Yes, during a panic attack most people find breathing difficult. At that time you can help them. Right, you can.

Just tell the person to breathe but they might not be in a situation to listen to what you are saying. The best way is to breathe with them. This works you have to breathe with them slowly.

Try to maintain the rhythm of slowly inhaling and exhaling for a few minutes, initially you have to breathe with the person. That person will simply copy you and will try to make his breathing normal. 

The thing you have to be cautious about is maintaining the slow pace of inhaling and exhaling. Deep breathing is best for the person who finds it difficult to breathe.

Once you see the person is gaining normal breath you can continue deep breathing a few minutes more to make things better.

3. Teach the Correct Way of Breathing

While giving instructions or telling someone how to breathe during a panic attack needs to be clear. You must use correct words and actions to help somebody out there. Remember the following things if you want to help someone:

  • Tell them to breathe, breathe and breathe.
  • Ask them to breathe through the nose or inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth.
  • Help them in taking deep breaths.
  • Help the one in having a paced breathing.
  • Ask them to inhale and count till 3-5, then exhale.

If the person is unable to breathe or count you can count for them and ask them to breathe. You can count and both of you can breathe together.

4. Assure the Person you are there to Help Them

How to help someone having a panic attack
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Assurance that you are there to support the person can work in a great way. Panic attacks take a toll on a person. That person might not in certain circumstances, take care of himself. In such a situation, your assurance comes as a blessing for that person.

 Your presence can be very supportive. Just stay there and silently be with the person. You can, again and again, reassure the person that you are there to help them.

 To bring back the person from that attack you have to speak their name loudly and continuously ask them to breathe. Reassure that person “I care about you,” “I am with you,” “I am here,” “I am with you.”

You might feel talking like this is hard, yes it is, but it works wonders. It helps the other person to come out of that panic attack.

5. If you Want to Help, you Have to Take Control

The first and foremost thing to keep in mind is to take control of the situation and help the other person. What to do and how to help someone having a panic attack is not very difficult. Just remember a few things:

  • Take the person to a quiet place away from the crowd.
  •  Ask the person that is there any medicines he is taking.
  • If there is any medicine you can give that medicine to them.
  • Ask how can you help?
  • Make sure what’s happening then only take your next step.
  • Ask them to breathe deeply and slowly.

At this point, the one most important thing is to not make any assumptions. Symptoms might appear the same but every panic attack is different.

The foremost thing is to stay calm and then proceed. Before taking any step ask the person how can you help him? Let the person reply and then you can take the next step.

Try to remain calm and do not force the person to reply. That person can take a couple of minutes to regain strength to reply till then keep your composure.

During this time, keep on boosting their morale say you know the person is doing good, you know the person will be fine. Keep on encouraging you are doing great in life and your career. You will be just fine

Motivation is a way of showing that you are with them and nothing is impossible to conquer.

6. Bring Them Back to Reality

You sometimes need to give a reality check to the person going through a panic attack. How to help someone having a panic attack who is under stress. You can tell them that it’s just a thought that is bothering them everything is good and they can face and get through everything.

Some fears take the face of panic attacks and that fear needs to be minimized to control the situation and help the person. Take the person out of the stressful situation by showing some confidence in them. This is a way you can mitigate further destruction from that panic attack.

7. Try Distracting the Person Having a Panic Attack

How to help someone having a panic attack
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How can you help someone having a panic attack through distraction?

It can sound weird or how it can be done to distract someone from having a panic attack. You can sort to this option of distraction once you realize that the person is in better condition. To avoid panic attacks getting worse further. 

You can resort to distraction and go ahead with telling an old experience or good memory that you both share. If you are doing this for some unknown, you can tell a joke or something funny, try asking some riddle, the main aim is to distract the person.

You can tell your own experience or some incident. All such things need to be done and you can keep asking questions that how is the person feeling. You can also ask for the person’s suggestion and what does he think.

Distraction works as it unhurriedly takes the attention of the person to something else and makes them feel better.

8. Remember to Allow them to Recover at their Own Pace

Assuring them that you are there for them and being around is enough. You should allow the person to handle himself. You just need to remind them you are there for help.

After reminding them that they can handle their symptoms, you can give them some time to recover. Discuss good things and any further plans.

How can you Avoid a Panic Attack?

How to help someone having a panic attack
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To avoid a panic attack, figure out what causes it. When its causes are unknown how can we prevent it? You can figure out what triggers panic attacks. When your triggers are known to you one can easily try to prevent them. Here you can’t ask how to help someone having a panic attack but rather how can I help myself in preventing panic attacks. Some of them include: 

  • Learn breathing exercises: Breathing exercises help you during panic attacks and short breathiness. Breathing exercises are great for panic attacks.
  • Exercise daily and try some stress management exercises: Including exercise in your daily routine can benefit you. Exercises help in keeping composure apart from good health. 
  • Try yoga it has some great breathing exercises that will help to calm yourself. Try to master the breathing exercises and paced breathing.
  • Take good sleep to avoid mental and physical stress: Make sure you take ample sleep. At least 8 hours of sleep is necessary for everyone to avoid any mental fatigue.

How to Help Someone Having a Panic Attack – Takeaways

We hope our article must have given you some ideas on how to help someone having a panic attack. There are a few ways listed above but being in the situation is entirely different. Just a few takeaways: 

  • Take control of the situation but remain calm
  • Let the person deal with the situation himself.
  • Show some trust in their ability to cope and recover.

If you liked our article you can check out our other pieces also. To read interesting articles like this click here.

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While at times contributed by guest authors, our content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. We pride ourselves on our high-quality content and strive towards offering expertise while being authoritative. Our reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students. 

Do note that any information found on the site does not constitute legal or medical advice. Should you face health issues, please visit your doctor to get yourself diagnosed. Icy Health offers expert opinions and advice for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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