Sometimes when it comes to panic attacks, there’s just nothing to do but get through it. Friends and family may try to help, but truthfully, they can make it worse.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 40 million people, ages 18 to 54, in the United States suffer from an anxiety disorder. And if you’re not the one dealing with anxiety, it’s likely you know someone who is.

While it’s essential to be compassionate with a person before, during, and after their panic attack, you may end up making the situation much worse. Because although you think you’re being useful by saying certain common phrases that seem helpful, you’re not.

Instead of sticking with cliché phrases like “Calm down” or “It’s not that bad,” show a little empathy by knowing what to say to someone having a panic attack.

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What To Say To Someone Having A Panic Attack

1. “Is there anything I can do to help you right now?”

While most people would say, “Just relax” to someone experiencing a panic attack, telling them to do so will have the exact opposite effect. If it were that easy to relax, they wouldn’t be in the middle of a panic attack.

Asking if there’s anything you can do to help reminds your friend or loved one that they have someone next to them who is understanding. And being willing to run to the store to get a paper bag to breathe into can do wonders.

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