What To Say To Someone Having A Panic Attack Over Text

This brief guide will discuss what to say to someone having a panic attack over text.

What To Say To Someone Having A Panic Attack Over Text

Helping someone during a panic attack over the phone can be challenging. Nonetheless, it is possible.

When someone is experiencing a panic attack, and you can stay on the phone, whether or on-call or over text. You need to keep them online if they are not too responsive. Keep reassuring them or send emojis to know you are there through their storm.

  • “I know this is an overwhelming situation, but you are doing a good job. I am proud of you.”
  • “You can get through this.”
  • “Tell me what I can do for you? What do you need right now?”
  • “Stay with me, and keep listening to what I am saying.”
  • “Focus on your breathing. Stay in the present. Breathe with me.”
  • “I may not know exactly how you are feeling, but we’ll get through this together.”
  • “Tell me 5 things that you can touch in your vicinity? Name 5 colors around you right now? Tell 5 smells in the room? Is there anything that you can taste or eat nearby?”
  • “You are a brave young man/lady; you have got this.”

You may not necessarily know how to take out the person from their panic mode over the phone. However, your reassuring presence will be more helpful to the person than you may think. It is suggested to only offer constructive and doable advice; if you can’t do that, it’s best to stay quiet and present with their experience.

It is essential to ground the person and ensure they are connected with reality. So if someone is reaching out to you in their time of need, i.e., you must ensure you are sincerely present with them during a panic attack.

Panic attacks can be challenging, and devising coping strategies for such situations is essential to get you through the situations. If you are unable to manage your panic attacks, consider seeking a qualified professional therapist; they will work with you to find the solution.

What Are Panic Attacks?

A panic attack is characterized by the rush of emotional and physical symptoms due to severe fear and anxiety, causing a state of intense arousal, which may exhibit itself as physical pain and constricting feeling in the heart.

Panic attacks can make them feel like they are dying, and the feeling of impending doom is a big symptom of a panic attack. The diagnostic criteria for panic attacks as described in DSM 5 are as follows:

A panic attack is a sudden surge of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes, and during this time, four(or more) of the following symptoms are exhibited:

Note: The sudden surge can happen from a state of calm or anxiousness.

  • Shaking or trembling
  • Sweating
  • Palpitations, rapid heart rate, or pounding heart.
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Choking feelings.
  • Chest pain or congestion feeling.
  • Nausea or abdominal distress.
  • Heat or chills sensation.
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting
  • Paresthesias (feeling of numbness or tingling sensations).
  • Fear of losing control or feeling like they are going crazy.
  • Feel like dying
  • derealization (unreal) or depersonalization (detachment from one’s self).

Note: At least one of the panic attacks has been followed by a month (or more) of one or both the following:

  • Persistent worry or concern regarding additional attacks and their impacts (Going crazy, loss of control, and having a heart attack).
  • A significant maladaptive behavioral change related to the attacks (strategies to avoid panic attacks, like exercises and active lifestyle).

Any other mental disorder does not explain the disturbance ( panic attacks do not happen as a response to social situations, as in social anxiety disorder; in response to the phobic objects, as in particular phobia; obsessions, as in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD); in response to traumatic events, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or in response to separation from an attachment figure, like separation anxiety disorder).

Helping Someone During a Panic Attack

If someone you know has a panic attack, they may become extremely anxious and not think clearly. You can help them by doing the following:

  • Stay with the individual and keep calm.
  • Speak to them in simple, short sentences.
  • Be predictable. Avoid surprises.
  • Offer them medicine if the person takes it during a panic attack.
  • Don’t make any assumptions about what they need. So it is best to ask them.
  • Help slow down their breathing by breathing with them or by counting steadily to 10.

It is helpful if you say the following things to the person:

  •  “You can get through it.”
  • “Tell me what I can do for you.”
  • “Concentrate on your breathing.”
  • “What you are feeling is scary, but it is not dangerous.”
  • “I am proud of you.”

These simple guidelines can be beneficial in the following ways:

  • Reduce the amount of stress in stressful situations.
  • Help in controlling a confusing situation.
  • Prevent the situation from a worst-case scenario.

You can provide continuous help as the person tries to recover from panic disorder:

  • Encourage the person to proceed with therapy at their own pace.
  • Be present and patient towards the recovery process, even if the person is not accomplishing all the milestones.
  • Do not panic when the person panics.
  • Accept the current situation, but stay aware that it will not last forever.
  • Remember to take care of yourself.

What Things Not To Say To Somebody During A Panic Attack

There are certain things that you should absolutely never say to someone during a panic attack. It won’t help the person in calming the situation, nor will it diffuse their panic. Following are some of the things you should avoid saying to people experiencing a panic attack:

  • Don’t say “calm down.”
  • Don’t disregard their state. Refrain from “it is all in your head.” or “It will be fine, or it will pass.”
  • Don’t embarrass or shame them for their condition. Nothing along the lines of “here we go again” or “here comes the drama queen/king.”.
  • Don’t minimize by bringing up your own experiences. “It happened to me too.” “I got anxiety too, and I did this.”
  • “Don’t think of scary things.”
  • “You aren’t trying hard enough.”
  • “You are blowing it out of proportion.”

Avoid all the condescending and minimizing things to someone who is having a panic attack can make the symptoms even worse. This can also make them feel isolated and embarrassed of their condition, and they may not reach out for help.

Encouraging statements is not necessary; sometimes, silent presence can be helpful, or trying out breathing exercises with the person can help them calm down.

Grounding Techniques to Cope During A Panic Attacks

Grounding techniques and strategies can help during a panic attack. It helps in taking the person out of their head and focus on the present.

  1. Breathing Exercise: Breathing is vital to surviving the chaos. Practice meditation and deep breathing. Focusing on your breath to calm your mind and body will help you get out of the problematic situation. It will help you in reducing the physiological reaction coming from your brain after piercing the danger.
  2. Walk, Move, Dance: The energy built up in your body due to the panic attack may render you immobile and frozen. It is essential to train your mind to keep functioning in this situation. Diffuse the pent-up energy by walking, moving, or even dancing.
  3. Imagine Your Happy Place: Try to drift your thoughts towards the solution. Think of the happy place and focus on that thought.  Your happy place could be an island where sunshine pours down on you or as plain as a walk in the park. Imagining and focusing on the happy place will divert your anxious thoughts.
  4. Question Your Anxious Thoughts: The panicky thoughts usually just focus on the negative scenarios. Try to focus and question your thoughts about the positive outcomes and scenarios. This will help you in getting through the situation.
  5. Practice and Train your Mind through Meditation. Meditation helps in calming your mind and body; it trains your mind to remain under control even in the conflict scenario. Once you have trained your mind, it will help you gauge through difficult situations without yelling in frustration.
  6. Consult a therapist and ask for help. If you think the situation is too overwhelming for you, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Seek a competent counselor to help you manage your emotions effectively. Alternatively, you can express it with your trusted friend or family.

Conclusion

This brief guide discussed what to say to someone having a panic attack over text. If you or your loved ones experience panic attacks, seek the help of a professional mental health practitioner.

Panic attacks may feel like the world is crumbling apart, and you are dying. It aggravates the feeling of loss of control and heightens their emotional condition. Grounding the one who is experiencing a panic attack is essential to their well-being. Helping them over a text can be challenging, but being present is key to the solution. Reassure them that they will get through the situation and they are not their condition. Help them focus on their breathing and get them out of their head. With authentic concern and support, you can help a person during a panic attack over text.

If you have any suggestions, questions, or comments about the panic attacks, please let us know in the comments.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): What To Say To Someone Having A Panic Attack Over Text

What do you say to someone who is having a panic attack?

  • “You can get through it.”
  • “Tell me what I can do for you.”
  • “Concentrate on your breathing.”
  • “What you are feeling is scary, but it is not dangerous.”
  • “I am proud of you.”

How do you comfort someone with anxiety?

  1. “I’m always here if you need to talk.”
  2. “Let’s sort this together.”
  3. “How can I help?”
  4. “This feeling will pass.”
  5. “Take your time.”
  6. “Your worries/fears/triggers are not invalid.”

How do you calm a panic attack?

Practice breathwork to calm yourself in a panic attack.

  1. Breathe in deep and slowly through your nose.
  2. Breathe out deeply and slowly through your mouth.
  3. Some may find it effective to count steadily from one to five with each breath they take. 
  4. Shut your eyes and be mindful of your breathing pattern.

Do hugs help anxiety attacks?

It is not advised to hug someone during anxiety attacks, especially when someone is particularly sensitive to touch. Nonetheless, it is an effective way to soothe a child. 

Hugging may help in reducing stress and decrease the risk of depression, anxiety, and illness. Hugs may even help in healing. 

References

https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/hw53602

https://themighty.com/2018/03/how-to-help-friend-having-panic-attack-on-the-phone/

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