To lot of people this phrase means nothing, they think is just a little bit of anxiety and that we’re exagerating the situation; to others, instead, is a condition that they have to face everyday. Exagerated, we’re defined like this. I’m not here today to change your opinion, I’m here to talk to the ones that believe in us and want to help us to feel better.
Visualize this scene: you’re in a restaurant with your friends when all of a sudden you notice a thing, one of them has a blank stare, it seems to you that he’s shivering and he has an expression on his face that seems lost and frightened at the same time even if he’s trying to hide it. Well, probably they are the first signs of an imminent panic attack. The best thing to do it would be to manage it before it explodes so now I’ll talk about the two situations.
Scene 1: there are the first signs cited above; the best thing to do is to go to the person with caution and ask him if he wants to go out for a while, please don’t use the excuse that in this way he can calm down because you could make it worst and make him explode in a full panic attack. You can use every other excuse; that you want to go out to smoke, to breathe fresh air, to chat privately or to walk, everything is fine but you don’t have to pass the message that he has to calm down. When you are out of the restaurant or wherever you are if the person wants to talk about the problem than you can do it, otherwise I suggest you to talk of any other topics, in this way he’ll calm down and relaxed spontaneously because he will feel safe and not under pressure. After a while if you think that he feels better you can ask him if he wants to go inside again.
Scene 2: you didn’t notice the previous signs and the panic attack exploded, in front of you there is a person that shivers visibly and with a lot of probability he’s having difficulty breathing and maybe he’s crying too; at this point the first thing to do is to take him away from the situation that creates the problem, so take him out with you, if you’re a big group don’t go all of you with him, I know that you’re worried but this won’t help, on the contrary it’s better if only one or two closest person goes with him. When you’re out I suggest you to make him sit and start to do some relaxation exercise, so close the eyes and concentrate only on the breathing. Talk with him and make him understand that you’re there, that he’s not alone and that you’re there for him but don’t make too much pressure in letting him calm down. You have to accept his condition and don’t diminish it because it could make the opposite effect and worsen the situation. You have to make him understand how much he’s important and strong to live with such a thing. You could see that after a while he’ll calm down and when he recovers if he’ll want you could talk about what caused the attack.
I hope to have been helpful and been able to make you understand a little how a person that suffers of panic attacks lives. And what you have to do in case it happens when you’re there with them. Do you have other advice about what to do when someone is having a panic attack?