What to Do When Someone is Having a Panic Attack

Although, as an onlooker, you may not know what a person is experiencing while having a panic attack, the fact is, it is a frightening experience for the sufferer. So, when you notice someone exhibiting symptoms of a panic attack, adopt the following strategies to calm the sufferer.
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Things to do when someone is having a panic attack
Did You Know?
Troubled breathing, chest pain, trembling, sweating, and pounding heartbeats are some of the most common symptoms of a panic attack.
Although a panic attack does not carry any potential health risk, it should not be taken lightly. So, if you notice someone having a panic attack, instead of being a mere spectator, try to minimize the person's discomfort, and help the individual regain his/her composure by implementing the following approaches.

Suggest Deep Breathing
Deep breathing is one of the best ways to quell symptoms of panic attacks. Shallow, rapid breathing is often observed in the midst of a panic attack. So, advise him/her to take deeper, slower breaths, which will help instill a sense of calm and promote relaxation. Deep breathing has a comforting effect and assists to relieve panic attacks.

Choose Soothing Words
Try to comfort the sufferer by uttering soothing words. However, that does not mean you utter cliched phrases like 'take a chill pill', 'calm down' or 'just relax'. Now, only if those words could provide a calming effect. The thing is, if it was so easy to calm down, the person wouldn't have had a panic attack in the first place. Some get annoyed after seeing their friend in the midst of panic attack and say something like 'Aren't you overreacting', 'Your fears are imaginative' or 'It's all in your head'. Making such irresponsible statements will only make matters worse. Being rude or shouting at the person will not prevent a panic attack from exacerbating.

A panic attack sufferer requires support, reassurance, and not criticism. Saying something like 'you can easily go through this', or 'focus on your breathing pattern and live in the present', can work wonders to relieve her discomfort. Your words should convey that you are by her side and ready to help in whatever way you can. You need to take the person seriously, and make her aware that you really care for her health. Try to understand her apprehensions, and make her realize that panic attacks are no threat to her health, and it's just a temporary phase that will soon go away.

Offer Something that Relieves Discomfort
Arguing over her fears and apprehensions will not make her feel better. A sensible option would be to offer something that relieves her discomfort. Offering a simple glass of cold water or a herbal tea, such as chamomile, can help reduce the symptoms of a panic attack.

Change the Location
A change of surroundings, like taking her out in an open space, can also help minimize the severity of a panic attack. Often, a crowded environment can make her feel uncomfortable and tense, which can trigger a panic attack. In such circumstances, changing the location can help calm the person. Open spaces, such as parks, provide a calm, serene environment with lots of fresh air and greenery. This will help the person relax and ease symptoms of a panic attack. Many times, a light walk for 15-20 minutes works to alleviate the panic attack. Whatever place you choose, be protective and assure the person that her life is not in danger.

Do Not Leave the Person Alone
By telling the sufferer that you will return in a moment, will only increase her anxiety. A person having a panic attack needs support, so your topmost priority should be to stand by her side until she completely overcomes the condition. In most cases, panic attacks do not last for more than 30 minutes and during this time, it is necessary to be present with her all the while.

Call 911
A person with a really bad panic attack may not respond to the aforementioned strategies. In such circumstances, calling 911 for medical treatment is essential. Many ignore calling 911, as it is a mental ailment and not a physical one. However, you need to pay attention and be concerned about the person's health and if the need arises, call 911. In case, the symptoms do not subside, then it is essential to seek medical attention. The doctor may prescribe xanax tablets to treat abnormal heartbeats.

Remember, just because you are unaware, doesn't mean that panic attacks don't exist. So, like a Samaritan, do all that is necessary to comfort a panic attack sufferer.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.
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Published: February 26, 2014
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