How to help someone with a panic attack

A panic attack is a sudden intense fear characterized by its immobilizing intensity that occurs when there is no real danger.


How does a panic attack feel?

Rapid pounding heart, inability to breathe, chest pain, feeling like you’re going to choke, feeling of loss of control or death, sweating, trembling, shaking, feeling very hot or cold, sickness, dizziness, dissociation, feeling disconnected from your body, mind, and surroundings. Any of these can be characteristic of a suffering a panic attack.


How to know someone is going to have a panic attack?

Learning the warning signs is an important task you need to do to help someone about to suffer a panic attack. As soon as you identify that they are about to have one, the more you can do to help them. These are some of the early signs of a potential panic attack.

  • a feeling of terror or dread
  • a pounding heart
  • hyperventilation or difficulty to breath
  • dizziness and trembling


Not everyone experiences panic attacks in the same way, so to help them best consider asking them what the signs or symptoms that they have experienced before when a panic attack is starting.


How to help someone with a panic attack?


Stay calm

Show strength and support to your close one. Seeing you calm will make them feel safe. And that everything is going to be fine.


Stay around

Give your friend or close one the space they need. Stay around and help them go through it. Usually, a panic attack lasts 20 to 30 minutes, they will feel completely exhausted after it since their body experiences a lot of emotions and distress.


Ask what they need

During a panic attack communication might be difficult to keep. Remember to ask in advance what would be the best help you can give them. Even though these tips might be of help, everyone experiences panic attacks in a different way, and they might have found the best tools or coping strategies that they can share with you.


Recommend further support

If they don’t have professional support yet, you can offer your help to refer them to their GP or a counsellor. Working on the reasons of why they are experiencing panic attacks is extremely important for them to heal.


Find mental health support

If you’d like to find mental health support, we have an extended network of counsellors who speak up to 28 different languages, including English. Our services include 24/7 telephone counselling with the counsellor of your choice.