DISCLAIMER: WE ARE NOT DOCTORS. IF YOU HAVE OR SUSPECT SOMEONE YOU KNOW HAS MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES, SEEK PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE.
In 2017, statistics showed that 29% of Malaysians had depression and anxiety. That’s every 3 out of 10 Malaysians. Which, if you ask us, is pretty common.
There are many articles advising people with anxiety or panic disorders on dealing with their attacks. However, there aren’t many articles with information for friends and family on how to help their loved one.
Although it isn’t the responsibility of friends and family to “fix” their loved ones, the easiest way for a person to overcome an attack is for someone they’re comfortable with reassuring them that everything is going to be okay.
1. Remind them that they can leave if they want
It might sound harsh, but we mean that if they feel uncomfortable, remind them that they don’t need to feel guilty about removing themselves from the situation. Never pressure them to do something they don’t want to do.
2. Assure them there’s nothing to be afraid of
They probably already know this, but sometimes it’s hard to remember that there’s no real threat during a panic attack. So, assure them that they are completely safe and that you are there to help them through this.
3. Encourage them to breathe
Someone experiencing an attack could forget to breathe properly. Tell them to take a deep breath in for four seconds, and then exhale for four seconds and repeat. Do it together with them.
4. Offer to distract them
Being close to them means you likely know what they’re interested in. Slowly bring their attention away from the panic by telling them a happy story or show them a funny video. Don’t bombard them with questions as this can make the attack worse.
5. Stay with them.
They might tell you to leave, but this is usually the anxiety talking. Often, panic attacks get worse when the person is left alone. So, stay by their side no matter what and constantly reassure them that you want to be there for them and it’s not inconvenient.