I have never had a panic attack which is odd since I work a high stress job and my personality would certainly be susceptible to it.
My wife has them and I can tell you it is nothing to take lightly. A panic attack is a physical reaction to stress. Sometimes it can occur well after the stressful situation has passed. It can also be a chemical imbalance as well. It isn’t someone who is running around like a maniac. Sometimes you may not even know a person is having one. It also affects each person differently.
Here are some tips I have learned that might help you if you live with someone with panic attacks:
#1 – Do NOT tell the person to “calm down”
This is the worst thing you can say to someone who is having a panic attack. I know it seems like the obvious thing to say but it doesn’t help. A person having a panic attack can’t just “calm down”. The body is reacting to it and needs time for it to pass.
#2 – Get the person’s mind off of the situation
Talk about something else. Engage the person in a conversation. Try to avoid any stressful subjects. Play a trivia game or do some activity to get the person’s mind on something more pleasant. Don’t be cute about it either and try some cheap therapy techniques like asking them to count to 10 or close their eyes and image they are on a beach.
#3 – Be encouraging but don’t overdo it
The main thing is to be there for the person if they need something. Don’t smother them. Give them some time and space. They will recover in their own way. Don’t try to speed it up.
#4 – Remove them from the stressful situation.
Get the person to a safe place. Go to a park or anything that gives them a break from the situation. Learn what works and be ready to do it.
#5 – Do NOT take it lightly
Just because you don’t have panic attacks doesn’t mean it should be taken lightly. It is a serious thing someone is dealing with. If you care about the person you will do what you can to help them.
#6 – Encourage healthy things
Avoiding caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol may help relieve fear and anxiety. Getting regular sleep and exercise, and practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and yoga may also help.
We all have our own issues and ailments of our own. It is important to treat issues that others have with the same care and concern as if it were our own. Stress and anxiety is a real thing we all have to deal with and it affects us all in some way. I know when I have one of my headaches I have my own routine of getting over it. I know what works and what doesn’t work. It’s comforting to know that my wife knows me and knows how to handle me when I’m dealing with it. Sometimes just having her there is medicine in itself.
The key to knowing how to help someone with panic attacks is understanding. If you want more information about it, Google it. You will find an abundance of resources that will help you to understand it better and helping someone when they are having a panic attack.