So, someone around you is having an anxiety attack. And you’re freaking out because you don’t know what to do.
Here are some tips:
1. Ask the person if they need some space and/or time alone. Sometimes, having an anxiety attack with an audience present makes the attack that much worse. Sometimes you just need a little time to basically move through the motions. And sometimes you just want to be alone to do that.
2. If the person asks you to stay with them. Stay with them. Just be there. That might mean, just being quiet, and sitting in silence while the individual, again, suffers through the attack.
3. Don’t tell the individual to get over it. Don’t undermine their experience. Ask them if there’s anything that you can do to help support them through it. Maybe they need a glass of water.
4. Don’t freak out. That just makes us freak out. Be calm, and if you can, assure the individual that they’re going to be okay.
5. You can suggest going for a walk. Or basically any type of distraction. Counting objects in the room together. Counting breaths together.
6. You can give the individual something to fidget with or move around in their hands, like play-doh.
7. Help the individual to ground themselves. Have them press their feet into the floor, sit up straight, with hands gripping a chair. Encourage them to take deep breaths.
8. You can remind them that this will pass. As all things do. And that they’re going to be okay. Reassure them they can take the time they need to move through their experience.
Sometimes it can take hours for attacks to pass. And the attacks can be and are exhausting both mentally and physically. For the person suffering and for the person supporting the sufferer.
My sister, Julie, who has seen me at my worst, advised me this summer that she feels as though she has vicariously lived through these attacks, and that reading my blogs about the same are uncomfortable for her.
She calls her experience “second-hand panic attacks,” and I’ve written about that in a earlier post dated back in July. You should check that out as well.
If someone you know is suffering from panic attacks, it’s likely they may have panic disorder and should be encouraged to visit with a mental health professional.
When you have your health, you truly have it all.
Sending love always,