Anxiety attack is an episode of intense panic and fear; and it usually comes at random times. I can personally describe anxiety attack is like a thief; it comes unexpectedly and unwanted. Therefore, no one actually can see it coming until the trigger appears. It could happen privately in your own house, but it also could happen in public like at school, work, or even cafe.
If you have a friend whose anxiety gets worse at one point, here’s how to help your friend to get through this hard time:
#1 Ask your friend what they want.
Sometimes, the easiest thing to say to help your friend who has anxiety attack is ask them what they want you to do. These are the questions that you can ask to them:
- “What can I do to help you right now?”
- “Do you need companion or do you need to be alone right now?”
- “Do you want me to just listen and be with you or do you need some advice?”
By asking these questions, it could help your friend feel more understood, heard, and comfortable.
#2 Take your friend to somewhere safe.
If your friend is having an anxiety attack in public places such as concerts or malls, please take them to a quieter and less crowded place if it’s possible. This way, your friend will feel less overwhelmed and they can calm themselves at their own pace.
#3 Practice “The Breathing Exercise” together.
Anxiety attack symptoms occur in so many ways, and one of them is a difficulty to breathe properly. If this happens, please remind your friend to do the breathing exercise and if they struggle to do this exercise alone, do it together. Keep doing this exercise multiple times until they feel better.
#4 Comfort your friend.
Don’t say “there’s no reason to be panic” or “just relax” when you see your friend has an anxiety attack. Instead, comfort them. A simple “I’m sorry that you are feeling this way and I am here for you”, “You are not alone”, or “This terrible mental state will pass soon enough” will mean a lot for people who are struggling with their anxiety. It is always comforting to hear from someone else that they are not going through this alone. These reminders might meant nothing to you, but it means everything for them who face anxiety attacks in daily basis.
While anxiety might be hard for you to understand, please stay and be patient with your friend who is struggling with anxiety. It is also a possibility that they are still figuring things out as they go with their anxiety. The best we can do as a friend is to learn the symptoms of anxiety attack and be there for the people around you who are struggling with anxiety.