How to Help Someone Having a Panic Attack

by | May 7, 2024 | Anxiety, Blogs

Clinically Reviewed By Dr Dubey Shiva

Understanding panic attacks and recognizing their symptoms allows you to offer support to a friend or family member in their moment of distress. Panic attacks cause symptoms like a fast heartbeat, intense fear, and chest pain, which can make a person feel overwhelmed. These signs show that the person is dealing with anxiety, sometimes for no clear reason. Understanding how to help them can soothe their nerves. Here’s how to help someone having a panic attack.

What Are Panic Attacks and What Do They Look Like?

Panic attacks are sudden onsets that are often accompanied by the following:


    • extreme fear

    • rapid heart rate

    • severe anxiety

    • chest pain

These mental health episodes start without apparent cause, leaving the person unexpectedly overwhelmed and distressed. Understanding these signs is the first step in providing support.

How Can You Recognize the Signs of a Panic Attack?

Recognizing a panic attack early involves noticing symptoms such as:


    • Rapid heartbeat

    • Difficulty breathing

    • Intense fear or anxiety

    • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded

    • Trembling

    • Chest pain

    • Sweating

    • Nausea or upset stomach

Identifying these symptoms helps manage the situation quickly.

What Is the Best Way to Provide Immediate Support During a Panic Attack?

The best way to offer support to someone during a panic attack is to stay calm and help by making sure the individual is in a quiet place. Speak gently, acknowledging their feelings without overwhelming them. In these situations, encouraging them to breathe slowly is helpful. Controlled breathing begins bring back a sense of calm.

Which Calming Techniques Are Effective During a Panic Attack?

Effective calming techniques during a panic attack include:


    • Deep Breathing Exercises: Encourage the person to focus on their breath and take slow, deep breaths.

    • Grounding Techniques: Teach them to engage with their surroundings to distract from overwhelming feelings. For example, help them to focus on the surface their feet is in contact with.

    • Quiet, Safe Space: Find a quiet place where the person can feel secure, away from too much sensory input, which can make anxiety worse.

    • Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Guide the person by tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups.

    • Mindfulness Meditation: Encourage the person to practice mindfulness, which involves staying present and aware of their environment and sensations without judgment.

    • Visualization: Help them visualize a calm or happy place, focusing on the details of that environment.

    • Reassuring Conversation: Keep talking to the person in a calm and soothing voice.

    • Aromatherapy: If accessible, use soothing scents like lavender or chamomile, which help reduce anxiety and encourage calm through sensory engagement.

These techniques are useful for managing the symptoms of most panic attacks, helping the person regain control over their feelings and physical reactions during these difficult situations.

Why Should You Encourage Someone to Seek Long-term Help After Experiencing Panic Attacks?

Encouraging someone to seek professional help is important; serious panic attacks can indicate a panic disorder if they happen frequently.

If someone you know frequently experiences panic attacks, consider some professional help by reaching out to Healing Psychiatry of Florida. Our team is equipped to provide support and guidance on managing anxiety and stress through professional help.

What Should You Avoid Doing When Someone Is Having a Panic Attack?

It is important to avoid making the person’s anxiety worse by minimizing their feelings or offering cliché advice; instead, empathy and patience are key.


Helping someone during a panic attack involves quick thinking, empathy, and immediate support. By recognizing the symptoms and using simple techniques, you can assist a person in regaining calm and control over their feelings and symptoms.

Anastasiya Palopoli
Written by Anastasiya Palopoli

Anastasiya Palopoli, a board-certified Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, has extensive experience in nursing and psychiatric care, with degrees in Nursing from UCF and Psychiatric Mental Health from the University of Cincinnati. Following a residency in General and Child Psychiatry in Florida, she specializes in treating Dementia, psychosis, depression, and anxiety through holistic approaches. Beyond her professional life, she enjoys hiking, tennis, and traveling with her family.