How to help someone cope with a panic attack

Know how to recognize a panic attack

According to the British Mental Health Foundation, 13,2% of people have experienced panic attacks. If among your acquaintances there are those who suffer from panic attacks, it will be especially useful for you to learn more about this phenomenon. Panic attacks can last from 5 to 30 minutes and symptoms can include rapid breathing and heart rate, sweating, trembling, and nausea.

Keep calm

A person experiencing a sudden, brief panic attack may feel better if they are reassured that it will pass soon. Help the person collect his thoughts and just wait until the attack passes.

Be Persuasive

Panic attacks can be a very difficult and disturbing experience; some people describe them as if they were having a heart attack or were sure they were about to die. It is important to reassure the person experiencing an attack that he is not in danger.

Encourage deep breaths

Encourage the person to breathe slowly and deeply – counting aloud or asking the person to watch as you slowly raise and lower your hand can help.

Don’t be dismissive

In the best of intentions, you can ask the person not to panic, but try to avoid any potentially disparaging language or phrases. According to Matt Haig, best-selling author of Reasons to Stay Alive, “Don’t downplay the suffering caused by panic attacks. It’s probably one of the most intense experiences a person can ever have.”

Try the Grounding Technique

One of the symptoms of panic attacks can be a feeling of unreality or detachment. In this case, a grounding technique or other ways to feel connected to the present can help, such as inviting the person to focus on the texture of a blanket, breathe in some strong scent, or stomp their feet.

Ask the man what he wants

After a panic attack, people often feel drained. Gently ask the person if they should bring a glass of water or something to eat (caffeine, alcohol, and stimulants are best avoided). The person may also feel chills or fever. Later, when he comes to his senses, you can ask what help was most helpful during and after the panic attack.

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