"If the panic attack is severe and it doesn't seem like it will resolve within a few minutes, you can guide them through something called 'paced breathing,' which activates the body's relaxation response," Dr. Gaumer tells Health Digest. "Paced breathing is inhaling for a short amount of time and exhaling for a longer amount of time. For example, inhale for 4 seconds and exhale for 6 seconds." While effective, Dr. Gaumer cautions that this method should only be used after all other coping techniques have been tried first. "Continue paced breathing until the panic attack begins to subside," she says. "This technique is to be used as a last resort as it can become ineffective if it is overused." Lastly, Dr. Gaumer says that an encouraging word can go a long way. "Provide them with praise and support," she states. "Tell them they are doing a great job and remind them they will make it through."

Alternatively, Dr. Gaumer explains that some methods of support are best avoided, such as deep breathing exercises. "This can actually trigger hyperventilation and increase the intensity of the panic attack. Deep breathing only makes the panic attack worse," she states. "Do not minimize, shame, or ridicule," she adds. "Keep in mind the person does not want to be having a panic attack and would actively choose not to have one. They also probably understand that logically there is no reason for them to be anxious."

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