Seeing someone you care for suffer from an anxiety attack can be absolutely heart-wrenching. You may not be certain of how to react, much less be sure of ways on how to prevent it from happening again in the future. Make use of these helpful tips and banish those feelings of helplessness:
Equip yourself with knowledge
Knowing the triggers that lead to someone’s panic attack is immensely helpful. Based on past happenings and through active communication, ask your friend what you can do to make him/her feel better. Being aware of potential causes and solutions in advance will prepare you in the event of an anxiety attack and allow you to react decisively should the need arise.
Create a safe space
When you are an understanding friend, your friend is more likely to confide in you. Avoid being visibly irritated or judgemental and have patience when it comes to hearing your friend out. Having this safe space encourages your friend to step out of his/her comfort zone and to speak candidly. Try repeating what they say, normalising their experience, or recount on a similar personal experience to make them feel less alone.
Earn their trust
Give your friend time to learn to trust and depend on you. Whatever their hang-ups, it may take a little longer than what you're accustomed to but it's important to let nature take its course. Do not force them to open up right from the start. Accepting their awkwardness and vulnerability is the first step towards earning their trust. Being a pillar of support requires patience and most importantly, authenticity.
Talk to them about treatments
Seeking treatment in the form of therapy or medication can be a scary step for people with anxiety. Ask them if they have plans to work on their condition and give them plenty of space to pursue alternative solutions. Sometimes, the best treatment isn't always the most direct course of action but rather the one that the patient responds best to. Lay their options out for them and let them decide for themselves/
Most importantly, remember to take care of yourself as dealing with third-party anxiety can get to you. It is easy to be influenced by feelings of negativity. As such, stay positive and be the beacon of hope that guides your friend through the fog of anxiety!