Witnessing someone experience a panic attack can be distressing, but offering support and knowing how to help can make a significant difference. In this article, we will discuss effective strategies on how to calm someone down from a panic attack.
Your own composure is essential. Panicking or becoming anxious yourself can exacerbate the situation.
Stay as calm as possible to provide a stabilizing presence.
Create a Safe Environment
Guide the person to a quiet, safe space where they can sit or lie down. Reducing external stimuli can help them feel more secure.
Encourage Slow Breathing
Shallow, rapid breathing is a common symptom of panic attacks. Encourage the person to take slow, deep breaths. You can use the 4-7-8 breathing technique: Inhale for a count of 4, hold for 7, and exhale for 8.
Let the person know that you are there to support them and that panic attacks are temporary. Reassure them that they are safe and that the sensations they are experiencing will pass.
Use Grounding Techniques
Grounding techniques help anchor the person to the present moment. Ask them to describe five things they can see, four things they can touch, three things they can hear, two things they can smell, and one thing they can taste.
This can redirect their focus.
Maintain a Gentle and Non-Judgmental Approach
Avoid telling the person to “snap out of it” or that it’s all in their head. Instead, be empathetic and non-judgmental. Offer statements like, “I’m here for you,” or “You’re not alone in this.”
Keep Physical Contact in Mind
Ask if physical contact, like a hand on their shoulder or back, would be comforting. Some people find touch reassuring during a panic attack, while others may prefer space. Always respect their preferences.
Distract with Conversation
Engage the person in a simple, calming conversation about a neutral topic. Talk about their favorite book, movie, or vacation spot to redirect their thoughts.
Avoid Caffeine and Sugar
If possible, offer water or a non-caffeinated, non-sugary beverage. Stimulants can exacerbate anxiety symptoms.
Panic attacks can vary in duration. It’s essential to be patient and offer support throughout the episode. Reiterate that you are there for them until they start feeling better.
Suggest Professional Help
If the person experiences frequent panic attacks, suggest seeking help from a mental health professional. They can provide strategies and treatment options to manage and reduce future attacks.
Knowing how to calm someone down from a panic attack involves creating a safe and supportive environment, encouraging relaxation techniques, and offering reassurance. Your presence and understanding can make a significant difference in helping the person manage their anxiety. If panic attacks persist or worsen, encourage them to seek professional guidance for long-term solutions.
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