You Telling Me Not to Panic Makes Me Panic

What not to say to someone having an anxiety attack

Janice Tovey
2 min readNov 13


Photo by Meghan Hessler on Unsplash

A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause. Panic attacks can be very frightening. When panic attacks occur, you might think you’re losing control, having a heart attack or even dying. Mayo Clinic

If you have experienced a panic attack you know how terrifying they can be. Often you believe you are going to die. The physical and emotional sensations are intense and horrifying.

While friends, family and medical professionals may want to help, the following advice does nothing to sooth the suffering.

Don’t say these things:

Will you please just stop and calm down! They would if they could, but they can’t. This statement can have the opposite effect.

You have nothing to worry about, you are just fine. A person suffering from a panic attack is in extreme distress and they are the furthest thing from being OK. This insensitive statement adds fuel to the flames.

Telling a person to think about something else or to just not worry about it is very unhelpful. Ordering a person around is counterproductive.

Probing a person about the reasons they may be panicking is also somewhat callous and acts to confuse the person in the midst of an attack. They are already feeling misunderstood and self-conscious.

A person having a panic attack can’t just calm down.

Photo by Vadim Bogulov on Unsplash

This is what they may be facing:

Symptoms include:

Pain in the chest

Vision problems

Trouble with breathing

Excessive Sweating

Feelings of being out of control

Feelings of dread



Feeling cold



Stomach distress

Feeling numb

Thoughts of suicide

Panic attacks are terrifying because they can come without any kind of warning.

It is very important to seek medical attention right away if you or someone you see is experiencing a panic attack.

Janice Tovey 2023



Janice Tovey

My passion is writing. I also love reading, teaching, animals, nature, music, and humor. I am curious about everything and enjoy writing about all things.