Top 10 Things To Never Say To Someone Having A Panic Attack

August 15, 2014

“A Panic Attack Can Truly Make You Feel Like The End Is Near.”

So you know someone who experiences regular panic attacks, and in that moment you just don’t know what to do or even worse what to say. Some of the 10 things listed below may seem humourous but trust me when I say we who have suffered from panic disorder in the past, have heard them all, and some suggestions we dislike more then others. So here we go with…

The top 10 things To Never Say To Someone Having A Panic Attack:

1) “You’re taking this way too far!”

First thing that comes to my mind is, do you think I want to be feeling like I am about to die?

2) “Breathe deeper”

One of the worst things you can tell someone who’s experiencing a full blown panic attack is to breath deeper. Hyperventilating happens due to the fact that you’re breathing too quick and deep which expels too much carbon dioxide. Now you know the reason for your dizziness and numbness during a panic attack…

3) “Control yourself”

Believe me if the person having the panic attack could, they would.

4) “Hey, face your fears!”

Forcing someone who’s experiencing a panic attack towards their fear can actually back-fire in many ways. The real key is a guided systematic approach to facing the fear, when they are prepared to do so.

5) “Time to go to your happy place”

This one brings me back to my past life with panic disorder, and a friend who would always remind me to go to my ‘happy place’during a full blown panic attack. I think he picked the idea up from the movie Happy Gilmore which was a pretty good idea if you think about it, but all I could really think of was a bunch of little devil people invading my happy place each and every time.

6) “It’s all in your head!”

I understand that I need to stop the emergency signals that keep the cycle of panic alive, I also now understand that a panic attack can in fact be stopped in 3 minutes no matter the severity of it, what I don’t understand is when people keep saying ‘it’s all in your head. It just isn’t helping so be more specific please…

7) “You are embarrassing me right now”

Not cool, if someone’s telling you this it’s time to find new friends.

8) “You need to have more faith than this!”

All this does is throw the person suffering from the panic attack deeper into a world of confusion. In the end, a prayer won’t stop a panic attack and it just might even fuel the cycle of anxiety and depression further.

9) “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff”

FYI, if someone has an anxiety disorder and has regular panic attacks out of the blue, everything is regarded as ‘big stuff.’ Reminding someone who’s experiencing a panic attack that they’ve been down this road before, and have come out of it can trigger positive memories for the sufferer. These memories can help turn the adrenaline and anxiety switch off in a short amount of time.

10) “Have a drink”

This one is plain and simply the worst advice there is. The gateway to an addiction opens up because of the temporary comforting feelings that alcohol can give you during generalized anxiety, and panic attacks. So take my advice and STAY AWAY!

Panic attacks usually start with an unexplained random attack that fuels certain sensations within the person. Very often this leads to the fear of losing control all together. So if you know someone who’s currently going through a panic disorder, it’s just as important to know what NOT to do and say as it is to know what to do and say during a panic attack. This list is a great place to start.

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8 comments on “Top 10 Things To Never Say To Someone Having A Panic Attack

  1. “Just calm down.” HA, it’s like they’re taking it as a joke.

  2. There is no happy place when it’s that bad. Visualizing it is too hard and the image tears and fails.

    • True true, many sufferers have a difficult time mediating an visualization because ant tension is again turned inwards, and that is the opposite of what anxious minds need.

  3. My daughter told my son last night during his anxiety attack, “Just knock it off!” I looked at her and said, “You know, telling someone having an anxiety attack to knock it off doesn’t help.” She said she knew but he was just annoying her. Threw me back to my childhood.

  4. Anne, #3 “control yourself” is kind of the adult version of “just knock it off,” in many cases we really haven’t come that far have we 😉

  5. Megan Apr 20, 2017

    yeah don’t say these things to someone.

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