If you’ve never had a panic attack before, you can only imagine what it feels like.
Of course, you’ve probably experienced the individual components of panic in isolation – you’ve most certainly felt your heart beat rapidly while exercising, right? And maybe you’ve dealt with vertigo before after a few drinks, or shortness of breath during spring allergy season.
But when severe anxiety starts piling each of these symptoms in a giant heap on your chest, coupled with frightening thoughts, an uncomfortable synergy is born: the whole of the panic is more than the sum of its parts.
And I should certainly know. After all, I’ve had panic disorder for about ten years now. I can’t even count how many bona fide panic attacks I’ve had in my life.
Some were tolerable; some were crippling. All of them were frightening.
So, what should you do if someone you know has a panic attack in front of you? How should you react? What should you say?
As well-intentioned as you may be, comments like “just calm down” and “you’re overreacting” don’t usually help. (If you want to know why, check out my first video on the subject here.)
In today’s follow-up to my original video, I present you with five more things that you should avoid saying to someone who is having a panic attack.
Many of these statements seem intuitive and helpful on the surface, but they might cause the panicker further anxiety during a time when his or her body and mind feels unbearably delicate.
Watch the video below to learn what not to say, why you shouldn’t say it, and what you should consider saying instead:
Photo: Will Engelmann (Flickr)
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 14 Oct 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Beretsky, S. (2013). Video: Five More Things You Shouldn’t Say to Someone Who Is Having A Panic Attack. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/10/14/video-five-more-things-you-shouldnt-say-to-someone-who-is-having-a-panic-attack/