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Panic attack: How to help someone cope

Seeing a friend or family member have a panic attack can be scary. A panic attack is a crushing sense of worry and fear. The outward signs include sweating, shaking and shortness of breath. In someone who’s never had these symptoms, it could be a medical emergency. You may need to call 911.

If you know it’s a panic attack, you might help with these tips.


Find a quiet place to sit. This could be an empty room.

Be calm and supportive. Talk softly; let them know it will be OK.

Help them control their breathing. Have them take slow breaths.

Encourage them to seek treatment. Panic attacks can be caused by anxiety disorders or other medical conditions. Treatment can help.

Sources:; National Council for Mental Wellbeing; U.S. National Library of Medicine

Not sure how to get help for mental health? You can always start with your primary care provider.

Reviewed 5/30/2022

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This information is provided for educational purposes only. Individuals should always consult with their healthcare providers regarding medical care or treatment, as recommendations, services or resources are not a substitute for the advice or recommendation of an individual's physician or healthcare provider. Services or treatment options may not be covered under an individual's particular health plan.