How to help someone in an anxiety attack

I’ve tried to write these hundreds of times, but often when I am okay I can’t judge what I would want in the situation as well. I am currently coming out of an anxiety attack, so I’m channelling my feelings into this post. It’s a way to help myself and hopefully others with friends suffering with mental health.

  1. Tell them you love them. During anxiety attacks, I feel desperate and completely alone. I feel like everyone is against me and that I am worthless. The first step to helping someone in this situation is to make sure they hear that you love them, even if they don’t believe you. 
  2. Don’t tell them they’re being silly or over-thinking. This is the least helpful thing you can do. I know I am over-thinking, I do not need it clarifying. I need calm, kind reassurance that what I believe to be true is not. That I am not worthless and I am not alone. 
  3. Do not leave them until they are calm, and even if they say they are okay, stay by their side (physically or metaphorically) until you are certain. 
  4. Don’t make assumptions about what they need. 
  5. Give them a hug! I can’t describe the comfort of physical touch during an anxiety attack; feeling your body pressed together when it feels like it is falling apart.
  6. Don’t say ‘I’m sure you’ll be okay later’. I know it will pass, but right now I feel like the world is ending and my heart physically hurts. I need to think about right now, not later on. 
  7. Tell them you’re proud of them.
  8. Watch out for their tell tale signs that suggest they might be struggling. For me, when I am feeling anxious I grab a lock of hair and hold it on my lips. It’s something I’ve picked up over the last few months, and I find it weirdly comforting. 
  9. Encourage them to breathe slowly. Concentrating on your breathing helps relax you and slow down the racing thoughts of an anxiety attack. 
  10. Ask what you can do for them, but don’t make them feel like they have to make rash decisions. Right now I have no idea what would help me. Be calm and understanding. 
  11. Talk to them about happy memories. Reminiscing over the past makes me forget my anxiety for the future. 
  12. Get them a cup of tea! Tea fixes a lot of my problems, in the short-term, anyway. 
Feel free to comment things that you find useful, this is just a list of what helps me personally and I hope it will help others. 


       

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