If someone you care about is experiencing panic attacks, it can be very difficult to know how to help. Especially if you are with them when they have a panic attack, you may not know what to do or what to say to help them calm down.
Here we’ll talk you through some of the ways you can support them.
Learn more about their condition
Having a better understanding of what it is they’re going through can be immensely helpful for both you and them. Without knowing how anxiety works, it can be difficult to understand why your loved one reacts the way they do in certain situations.
The great news is, you’re in the right place! Being here and reading this shows a great commitment to helping your loved one. We have more information here on anxiety.
Help them find support
When someone is struggling with anxiety, the idea of reaching out to a professional can feel overwhelming. Offering your support here could help them make this vital step. You could show them the information you’ve found and see if they want assistance searching for a hypnotherapist, or you could help them make a doctor’s appointment.
Let them know that help is available and that there are several different approaches out there. Avoid pressuring them however and remember, it is ultimately up to them if and when they do seek help. Gentle encouragement and support is key.
What to do when they have a panic attack
If you suspect they are experiencing a panic attack, there are a few things you could try. Of course, if you are in any doubt and are worried it could be a physical problem, don’t hesitate to call for medical assistance.
- Try to stay calm yourself and remember, panic attacks cannot harm them.
- Gently remind them that this is a panic attack and that you are there for them.
- Encourage them to focus on their breathing. Try breathing with them – slowly, deeply and gently (over-breathing can make things worse). You can also count out loud or tell them to watch your arm as it moves up and down.
- Get them to engage their physical senses by stamping their feet on the ground.
After the worst part is over, encourage them to sit quietly until they feel better. It may help to play some calming music too.
Look after yourself
It can be easy to forget about yourself when someone you care for is struggling, but you know the saying “You cannot pour from an empty cup”? Well, it’s true – if you stop looking after yourself you’ll feel tired, stressed and may end up unwell yourself. Ensure you have someone to talk to, include relaxation into your routine and don’t hesitate to seek support yourself.
How to help a child having a panic attack
Children may not understand the complexities of anxiety and panic attacks, so experiencing these issues can be very distressing. If your child experiences a panic attack, there are ways you can help. Below is an article from Happiful magazine that may help:
Simply letting the person struggling know you’re there for them can make a huge difference. Taking the time to learn about what they’re dealing with, listening to them and gently encouraging them to get further support all goes a long way.