Youre Going To Get Through This
Making Conversation And Positive Affirmations
What a person says in response to someone having a panic attack is just as important as what they do. Engaging in conversation can distract from the extreme symptoms and help the person regulate their breathing. It is important to ask whether a person requires help rather than just assuming that they do. Here are some guidelines on what to say and do:
- Ask questions: Introduce yourself and ask if the person needs help. If so, ask them if they think that they are having a panic attack and whether they have had one before. This prompt may remind them about previous attacks and how they recovered.
- Stay or go: Let the person know that they do not have to stay where they are. Leaving a certain situation can take the pressure off someone having a panic attack. Find out what makes them feel most comfortable.
- Kind words: Staying positive and nonjudgmental is important. Help the person understand that you are there to assist them, they are safe, and they are going to get through this. Remind them that the panic attack is only temporary.
- Have a friendly conversation: An engaging chat can help distract a person from their symptoms. If you are a friend, gently bring up a topic that they are interested in to help them think of something else.
How To Help Someone Who Is Having A Panic Attack
- Stay with the person
If you can, stay with the person during their panic attack. Just by you being there, you can help them to calm down and remind them that help is available. It is okay if you are finding it overwhelming. You can find another friend, family member or teacher they trust to support your friend and you.
- Talk to them and encourage them
You can chat to the person about how they are feeling or anything that they like, such as favourite Netflix shows or their hobbies. This can distract them from their anxious thoughts, helping them to feel calm and to slow down their breathing. They might find it difficult to talk and might want to focus on their breath – thats okay and its important to respect their boundaries and how they are feeling.
- Check in with your friend
Even though your friend may no longer be panicking, they can still feel anxious or on edge afterwards. You can check in with them to see how they are feeling. This will remind them that they are not alone and you are there for them.
Talk about how you can support themIf your friend feels comfortable to, you can suggest talking about how you can support them in the future. This can be things like helping them find a safe space or finding breathing exercises that can help in the moment. This will help them feel better about coping with panic attacks.
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That Must Be So Difficult
Someone who is experiencing anxiety may feel overwhelmed, worried, stressed, fearful, isolated, insecure, and even agitated or irritable, Myers says. So another way to validate their feelings is by acknowledging how stressful and taxing anxiety can be. Even if they dont want to verbalize what theyre experiencing, this is a way to say I get it without saying I get it.
Dont Compare Normal Stress And Fear To Panic
Maybe youve felt stressed or terrified in a dangerous situation. You might even have anxiety yourself.
These experiences arent quite the same as a panic attack, though. Avoid trying to draw comparisons between your different experiences. Unless you also get panic attacks, you probably dont entirely understand how they feel.
If you have experienced extreme fear, let that memory inform you on what your friend is going through. Remind yourself they arent just afraid or stressed.
They may also feel:
- unable to manage whats happening
- physical pain or discomfort
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How To Help Someone With Anxiety Over Text
It is easier to help a person deal with their panic attacks when you are present in person. However, if you come across a situation in which you become aware that the person you are texting is having an episode of a panic attack, walking away from it would be inhumane.
Even over text, you can do a lot to help the person deal with the situation. Mostly, the instructions for you are the same as mentioned earlier. Such as what to say/do and what to avoid.
As you are already texting them, it is important to continue the same and hold their attention with the right words. You can use the text messages to divert their attention from negative thoughts and help them focus on safer ones.
Some text-specific instructions for you to deal with a bout of a panic attack.
Just because you are not with them in person doesnt mean you cannot help a person suffering from a panic disorder. As long as you are aware of what they are going through and know the right approach to deal with panic attack symptoms, you can still be of help.
Try To Shift Their Focus
You may have experienced or seen someone crying and someone else making jokes to try to make them feel better.
On many occasions, it can be a risky move because some people may think you are not taking their feelings seriously and some others will laugh with you forgetting for a second about how they actually feel.
When someone is having a panic attack, their attention is focused on it.
Try shifting their attention by talking about a funny story you two share or some future plan .
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Focus On Taking Action
Try these suggestions:
- Remind your friend to take slow, deep breaths. Do this controlled breathing with them. This can often help, as they may start to mirror your actions.
- Ask them to count backwards slowly from 100.
- Help them to get comfortable.
- Ask them to name five things they can see, hear, smell or feel.
- Reassure them that theyre experiencing panic and that it will go away.
- If, after 2030 minutes, the symptoms are continuing or have become worse, call 000.
Avoid saying things like Dont worry over and over. You might mean well, but your friend may not find your words helpful in the moment.
Concentrate On Your Breathing
Focus on breathing in slowly, then breathing out slowly. It can be helpful to count when youre breathing to focus your mind. You can start small at first, like counting to three as you breathe in and counting to three as you breathe out. When you begin to calm down, you can increase how long you hold each breath to five seconds or seven seconds.
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What Do You Do When Someone Is Having An Anxiety Attack Over Text
Here is what you can do when someone is having an anxiety attack over the text:
Try to remind the person who is having a panic attack that they do not have to stay where they are and they may find a comforting place if they likeProvide assurance that they dont have to be afraid and that you are thereRemind them that this is temporary and that it will passEncourage them to breathe and breathe with themTry to have an engaging conversation but dont ask questions or coax them to talkStay with them
What Resources Can You Use To Help Your Loved One With Their Panic Attacks
If you want to provide further support, you can help your loved one manage panic attacks in a number of ways. First, knowledge is power.
There are several mental health organizations that provide information for people with panic attacks and their family members and friends. These organizations can also connect you to therapists, support groups, and treatment options.
Anxiety & Depression Association of America : The ADAA has several resources for coping with panic attacks, including . They also have a support group listing to help you find in-person and online support groups.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration : SAMHSA operates a 24/7 helpline to help connect people with mental health treatment resources. You can call the national helpline at .
Recurring panic attacks can be a sign of a mental health condition like panic disorder. If your loved one has frequent panic attacks, you may want to encourage them to seek professional help.
A mental healthcare provider can diagnose any underlying issues, as well as teach your loved one new ways to cope. You can offer to support your loved one while they start the process of finding and setting up an appointment to see a therapist.
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Ask How Else You Can Help
Remember that those who struggle with a panic disorder know themselves and what helps them cope best. If you know a friend or a loved one who struggles with panic attacks you can talk to them about what you can do to help.
Your loved one might have a hard time speaking to you in the middle of a panic attack, but youll know what you can do if youve had a conversation with them before.
During the attack, you should still ask your friend what you can do to help. What works today might not work tomorrow and its important to do everything you can to help them feel better.
How Do You Calm Someone With Anxiety
There are several ways how you can calm someone with anxiety, such as:
Advising them to avoid caffeine or alcohol since those substances tend to worsen anxiety symptoms.
Advise them to write down how they are feeling and the thoughts that trigger their anxiety.
Using herbal remedies such as chamomile, valerian or lavender oil.
Getting professional help if they are feeling too overwhelmed from their anxiety and it is affecting significantly their lives.
Mindful meditation can be very helpful when managing anxiety.
Exercise and healthy habits .
Drink some water or green tea.
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Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator
This online resource, provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration , helps you locate mental health treatment facilities and programs. Find a facility in your state by searching SAMHSAs online Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator. For additional resources, visit NIMH’s Help for Mental Illnesses webpage.
Offer A Coping Statement
While someone is having a panic attack, we do want to be empathic, but we dont want to reinforce the idea that panic is dangerous, harmful, or needing to be reduced, minimized, or escaped.
So, rather than giving your loved one lots of reassurance and fussing over them, it can help to remind them that they can cope with whats happening on their own. This gives them back their power to deal with the situation.
You can do this by offering supportive statements like:
- You can handle these symptoms.
- This will pass.
- The feelings arent comfortable, but you can accept them.
- This will roll over you, like a wave.
Remind them that, although panic attacks can feel never-ending, they typically peak in about 10 minutes. Its not possible for the body to stay ramped up for much longer than that.
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How To Help Someone Having A Panic Attack
A panic attack is a brief but intense rush of fear.
These attacks involve symptoms similar to those experienced when facing a threat, including:
- intense fear
- head and chest pain
Panic attacks differ from a typical fear response because theres no actual threat involved.
Panic attack triggers arent always easy to identify, so people who have one attack often worry about having more, especially in public.
Panic attacks usually feel very uncomfortable and cause significant distress. Many people believe theyre experiencing a heart attack or other life-threatening issue.
If you know someone who experiences panic attacks, there are several things you can do to help them in the moment.
How Is Panic Disorder Treated
If youre experiencing symptoms of panic disorder, talk to a health care provider. After discussing your history, a health care provider may conduct a physical exam to ensure that an unrelated physical problem is not causing your symptoms. A health care provider may refer you to a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or clinical social worker. The first step to effective treatment is to get a diagnosis, usually from a mental health professional.
Panic disorder is generally treated with psychotherapy , medication, or both. Speak with a health care provider about the best treatment for you.
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Are There Clinical Trials Studying Panic Disorder
NIMH supports a wide range of research, including clinical trials that look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditionsincluding panic disorder. Although individuals may benefit from being part of a clinical trial, participants should be aware that the primary purpose of a clinical trial is to gain new scientific knowledge so that others may be better helped in the future.
Researchers at NIMH and around the country conduct clinical trials with patients and healthy volunteers. Talk to a health care provider about clinical trials, their benefits and risks, and whether one is right for you. For more information, visit NIMH’s clinical trials webpage.
How To Talk To Yourself
Talk to yourself about what is happening, and what you need to do. One question my patients find very helpful is this: is it Danger or Discomfort? Some of the other responses my patients like include the following:
1. Fine, lets have an attack! Its a good chance to practice my coping techniques.
2. Answer your what if? fears by saying So what? Ill get afraid, then calm down again.
3. Its okay to be afraid.
Why Might I Have A Panic Attack
A panic attack can happen at any time or place, and because it can happen quite quickly, it might feel unexpected.
Because a panic attack is an intense feeling of fear and anxiety, it often happens if you are feeling very anxious about something happening in your life, or you have experienced something difficult or stressful. This might be:
- a difficult situation at home that is making you anxious
- a frightening experience like abuse, or neglect
- feeling stressed about things like exams, work, friendships or relationships
- if you have lost a friend or family member
- if you are being bullied
- anxiety around school, college or university
There are many reasons why you might feel anxious and have a panic attack. Everyone has different experiences and thats okay. Sometimes, it might feel like there is no clear reason why you are having a panic attack.
Whats important is to try and understand what you might be feeling anxious or stressed about, and what types of situations or places can cause you to have panic attacks.
The first step to doing this is to talk to someone you trust, like a friend, family member, teacher or GP. They can help you understand what you are experiencing and help you find the support you need.
I get a pounding heart and my breathing becomes rapid like I cant get any air in – it feels stuck in the back of my throat.
Put The Head Between The Knees
You may ask the person to sit on the bed, with their legs off one side, and lower their head to be between their knees, just lightly, not tightly held or anything. Alternatively, if they are sitting on the ground, they may pull up their knees slightly and then lean forward to lower their head between their knees.
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Walk Or Do Some Light Exercise
Walking can remove a person from a stressful environment, and the rhythm of walking may also help them regulate their breathing.
Moving around releases hormones called endorphins that relax the body and improve mood. Taking up regular exercise can help reduce anxiety over time, which may lead to a reduction in the number or severity of panic attacks.