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How do you comfort someone whose having an anxiety or panic attack?

My 14 year old brother is really anxious tonight and he won't talk to me but I'm not sure how to approach him. He has really bad panic attacks and I'm assuming thats where its headed tonight. What should I do when he's having a panic attack? I don't have any problems with anxiety so I have no idea what its like, I don't know what to do or how to handle it.

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Asked by AllyB_ at 10:10 PM on Oct. 25, 2013 in Teens (13-17)

Level 9 (313 Credits)
Answers (7)
  • during my high anxiety/panic attack moments, nothing anyone can do will help...i just have to get it out and over with. the more i hold it in the worse it is. there are a few things you can do (or not do) that ive found help/hinder me personally.

    dont tell him to calm down, get over it, grow up, or any other negative comment. it will only make the attack last longer b/c it might give him more things to be anxious about. just let him know you are there, that you love him, and that if he needs anything you are there for him. depending on how intense it is, you may need to help him breath slowly and calmly so he doesnt hyperventilate. just keep an eye on him and let him know you care. but dont be too overbearing cause that wont help either.

    and again this is only my experience...he could be completely different. good luck!

    Answer by okmanders at 10:47 PM on Oct. 25, 2013

  • In my early 20's I suddenly, and for no apparent reason, started having panic attacks. I went to several doctors, usually the ER because I was convinced I was having a heart attack, and they all said I was having panic attacks, and asked if I was under stress. I didn't feel like I was having any stress at the time. I never did figure out why it was happening, and the doctors were no help. So after awhile, when it would happen, I would take deep, slow breaths , close my eyes and keep saying to myself, you are not having a heart attack, it's just a panic attack, until the feeling passed. Eventually they stopped.


    Answer by musicmaker at 11:00 PM on Oct. 25, 2013

  • Encouraging him to breahe slowly and deeply will be the main thing, since hyperventilating will only make him feel worse and prolong the attack. Talk calmly to him if that helps, but don't try to reason with him or tell him there's nothing to be worried about because for him at least, at the moment, there is.

    Answer by Ballad at 11:45 PM on Oct. 25, 2013

  • My friend had a panic attack when we were in high school. Just having me by her side and holding her hand made her feel better. Her panic attack got worse when the office staff chased me away from her side and sent me back to class.

    Answer by Rosehawk at 12:16 AM on Oct. 26, 2013

  • Primary helpful response when he's upset or agitated is to listen (or notice) and care.

    Rather than taking it on as an issue for you to solve or navigate successfully, think of supporting his own internal process by being with him during it.

    A lot of the agitation or distress around "being really anxious" actually is aversion to the feelings of anxiety. It's a case of getting upset about feelinging upset, or getting upset & distressed about feeling anxious. Having someone who can be with you or witness your extreme discomfort/agitation as it is (someone who can see you as you are & let you be as you are, but stay present) is very anchoring. This is about really relating TO someone (a way of BEING) rather than DOING something.

    In order to achieve this, you probably will have to tolerate your own feelings of discomfort & helplessness. Sitting on your hands but staying present is challenging, but such a gift.

    Answer by girlwithC at 10:13 AM on Oct. 26, 2013

  • I would find a really good movie, make popcorn & try to have him relax & take his mind off of his stress. There are School Counselors at every School. You could call the Counselor & explain the situation & see if they can help him. That is what I would do. They can do it in a round about way that he didn't even know you called them. GL!

    Answer by ILovemyPaulie at 10:57 AM on Oct. 26, 2013

  • my daughter has it and she has said that me telling her to calm down, take a breath and all that does NOT help. Just be there for him, let him know that if he wants or needs to talk, you are there. Be calm too

    Answer by charlotsomtimes at 11:07 AM on Oct. 26, 2013

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