How to Help Someone Who’s Having a Panic Attack

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Introduction

When faced with the challenging situation of assisting someone experiencing a panic attack, having the knowledge and skills to provide effective support can make a significant difference.

Understanding how to help someone during such distressing moments is crucial in offering comfort and aid.

Acquiring practical techniques and approaches enables you to be a valuable source of comfort and support for individuals dealing with the intense impact of a panic attack.

The goal of this guide is to provide you with practical strategies to help someone effectively manage a panic attack with compassion and understanding.


Coping Skills Therapists in Colorado

Cassondra Chagnon, LPCC

Cassondra Chagnon, LPCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 481-3518
Sarah Lawler, LPC

Sarah Lawler, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 203-7021
Melissa Peterson, LPC

Melissa Peterson, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Annalise Saylor, LPCC

Annalise Saylor, LPCC

Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Derek Bonds, LPC

Derek Bonds, LPC

Pueblo, Colorado
(719) 696-3439
Stephanie Kol, LPCC

Stephanie Kol, LPCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 203-7021
Kristen Yamaoka-Los, LPC

Kristen Yamaoka-Los, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 481-3518
Deja Howard, MSW, SWC

Deja Howard, MSW, SWC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Laura Brinkman, MA, LPCC

Laura Brinkman, MA, LPCC

Aurora, Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Jessica Titone, LPCC

Jessica Titone, LPCC

Colorado
(720) 437-9089

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Stay Calm

By maintaining a composed demeanor, you offer a steadying presence that can help the individual regain a sense of stability amidst their distress.

Your calm and collected attitude serves as a comforting anchor in moments of heightened anxiety, signaling to the person experiencing a panic attack that they are not alone.

This display of composure can significantly contribute to creating a safe environment for them to navigate through their emotions and sensations.

Furthermore, your ability to remain calm in the face of their panic can instill a feeling of security and reassurance in the individual.

In times of intense emotional upheaval, the presence of someone who exudes tranquility can have a calming influence, potentially alleviating some of the overwhelming feelings associated with a panic attack.



Encourage Slow Breathing

Encouraging slow breathing can be a powerful technique to help someone manage a panic attack.

Guiding them to take slow, deep breaths can effectively regulate their breathing pattern and promote a sense of calmness.

One effective method is the 4-7-8 breathing technique, where the person breathes in deeply for 4 seconds, holds their breath for 7 seconds, and then exhales slowly for 8 seconds.

This rhythmic breathing pattern can aid in reducing feelings of anxiety and promoting relaxation.

Another helpful breathing technique is diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing.

This involves breathing deeply into the diaphragm rather than shallow breathing into the chest.

Encourage the individual to place one hand on their chest and the other on their stomach, then inhale deeply through their nose, feeling their stomach rise with each breath.

Exhaling slowly through the mouth can further aid in regulating their breathing and activating the body's relaxation response.


Offer Reassurance

When offering reassurance to someone experiencing a panic attack, providing comforting words can make a significant difference in their emotional state.

Expressing empathy and support through phrases like "I'm here for you," "You're not alone in this," "Take your time, I'm right here," and "I believe in your strength" can help them feel understood and cared for.

Assuring the individual that what they are feeling is valid and that you are present to support them can alleviate some of the overwhelming emotions associated with a panic attack.

Offering words of encouragement such as "You're doing great," "Focus on your breathing, you've got this," "It's okay to feel scared, we'll get through this together," and "I'm proud of you for reaching out" can empower the person to navigate through their anxiety.

Reassuring them that it's okay to experience panic and that they have the strength to overcome it can instill a sense of hope and resilience.


Create a Safe Environment

When someone is in the midst of a panic attack, creating a safe environment is crucial to help them feel more at ease.

One effective way to support them is by moving to a quieter and calmer space, if possible, to minimize external stimuli that may be exacerbating their anxiety.

By reducing noise, bright lights, or crowds, you can help the individual focus on regaining a sense of control and grounding.

Transitioning to a tranquil environment can aid in soothing their senses and promoting a feeling of safety.

In a quieter space, the person experiencing a panic attack may find it easier to concentrate on their breathing exercises or grounding techniques without distractions.

This adjustment can contribute to a more serene atmosphere, allowing them to navigate through their emotions with greater clarity and comfort. 



Avoid Judgment

When supporting someone through a panic attack, it's crucial to avoid judgment and instead offer validation for their experience.

Refraining from criticism or minimizing their feelings can create a space of acceptance and understanding.

Here are some ways to avoid judgment and support them effectively:

  • Listen actively without interrupting.
  • Use phrases like "I hear you" or "Your feelings matter."
  • Avoid dismissing their emotions with phrases like "It's not that bad" or "Just relax."
  • Offer your presence and support without judgment.
  • Encourage them to express how they are feeling without fear of criticism.




Suggest Grounding Techniques

When guiding someone through a panic attack, suggesting grounding techniques can be immensely beneficial in helping them regain a sense of control and stability.

One effective method is the 5-4-3-2-1 technique, where you encourage the individual 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 sensory-focused exercise helps redirect their focus away from intrusive thoughts and back to their immediate surroundings.

Another grounding technique involves deep breathing while focusing on a physical object in the room.

Encourage the person to hold onto an object such as a stress ball, a textured item, or a piece of jewelry, and concentrate on its weight, texture, and temperature.

Using tactile and visual stimuli in this exercise helps individuals stay present, easing the common feelings of dissociation or detachment often associated with panic attacks. 


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Seek Professional Help if Necessary

In situations where a panic attack persists or escalates, it's essential to encourage seeking professional help from mental health experts.

If the individual continues to struggle with managing their anxiety or if the frequency of panic attacks increases, consulting a therapist or counselor can provide valuable support and guidance.

Overcomers Counseling is a reputable organization known for its dedicated professionals who specialize in assisting individuals in overcoming mental health challenges, including panic attacks.

Encouraging individuals to reach out to therapists and counselors at Overcomers Counseling ensures they receive personalized support that addresses their specific needs and challenges.

Encouraging the pursuit of professional assistance underscores the importance of prioritizing mental well-being and seeking support from skilled professionals who can offer the essential tools and resources to navigate challenging circumstances. 



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July 13th, 2024

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