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How to Help Someone Having A Panic Attack

Written by Emily Santrac

What is a Panic Attack?

According to Mayo Clinic, a panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers several physical reactions with no real danger or apparent cause. They can be extremely frightening, and may cause the person having a panic attack to feel as though they are having a heart attack or are dying. It’s important to be aware of the symptoms in order to understand whether or not you or someone close to you is having a panic attack. Once we have a basic understanding of how to identify a panic attack, we can better help those experiencing an episode.


  • Rapid, pounding heart rate

  • Feeling of impending doom

  • Hot flashes

  • Nausea

  • Trembling or shaking

  • Chest pain

  • Headache

  • Detachment from reality

How to Help

It’s valuable to know how to help a person having a panic attack. Whether you know someone who frequently has panic attacks or not, it is necessary to know what to do when such a situation arises. First, remember that you are not a professional. The best thing to do is to be there for the person.

Things not to do:

  • Do not tell a person to “just calm down” or “you’re panicking over nothing.” When a person is having a panic attack, they feel detached from reality, and telling them to just calm down might make the person even more frustrated and panicked.

Things to do:

  • Recognize the situation. A panic attack is a serious situation and should not be brushed off.

  • Take the person to a safe and comfortable place.

  • Involve all their senses and try to distract them. Ask them what they can see, touch, or smell to bring them back to reality.

  • Stay with them, and be fully present.


Am I Having A Panic Attack? What To Do Next. (2020, June 17). Cerebral. Retrieved December 29, 2022, from

How to Help Someone Through an Anxiety Attack. (n.d.). Freedom K9. Retrieved December 29, 2022, from

Panic attacks and panic disorder. (n.d.). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved December 29, 2022, from

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