It might be your friend, your spouse, or one of your parents. It might be a co-worker, your sister, or your child.
If you’ve never had a panic attack, however, it can be difficult to imagine how panic feels. Thus, it can be difficult to comfort someone who is legitimately panicking.
In a way, I can only speak for myself. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a therapist. I’m just another woman with panic disorder, after all.
But thankfully, I’ve established a pretty large support network in my nine or so years of dealing with panic. Friends, family members, and internet acquaintances all seem to agree on one thing: “help” can sometimes hurt.
The quotation marks are intentional. To the non-panicker, “just calm down” might be the first phrase to trip out of your mouth during a friend’s surprise panic attack. We know you mean well — really, we do.
But phrases like that have the potential to fan the fight-or-flight flames. Find out how in today’s video:
To everyone who took the time to watch this video: thank you for taking a solid step toward better understanding and supporting someone you love.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 17 Aug 2012
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Beretsky, S. (2012). Video: What NOT to Say to Someone Who is Having a Panic Attack. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/08/18/video-what-not-to-say-to-someone-who-is-having-a-panic-attack/