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Amanda Seyfried Shares a Simple Way to Help a Loved One Through a Panic Attack

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When a panic attack strikes, working through the feelings and racing thoughts can be that much harder if you feel like you’re alone. On the latest episode of Dr. Berlin’s Informed Pregnancy –a podcast that discusses pregnancy, parenting and life — actress Amanda Seyfried, who’s been open about her anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder before, talked about a period of time when she was having frequent panic attacks, and what helped her get through them.

Seyfried told Dr. Berlin and his co-host Kacy Byxbee that while acting in an off-Broadway play in 2015, she was having panic attacks on stage every six or seven shows.

“It feels like you’re going to die,” she said. “It feels like you need to leave the stage.”

But because she was acting with her now-husband Thomas Sadoski, who she met during this time, she wasn’t completely alone in her experience. She said while no one else could tell she was having a panic attack, he could, and having someone see her, really see her, helped her calm down and get through those tough moments.

She said:

I would act through them, and I would just connect with Tommy. And he’d always be aware of it. He would recognize that thousand-yard stare. And then he would bring me back and the lines would keep flowing, but my whole body would be cold and I’d be sweating at the same time. And it would only last like 60 seconds, and then we’d get through it.

While not everyone gets to stare at their future husband while having a panic attack, having someone with you — who knows you and who will be there for you without judging you — can be a great way to get through these tough moments. We wanted to know what else people who experience panic attacks needed from their loved ones, so we asked our community what they would add.

Here’s what they shared with us:

1. “Talk. About anything and even if it doesn’t look like I’m paying attention. I’m doing everything I can to keep it together so I may seem zoned out, but a voice breaking through can help. Just keep talking.” — Jennifer T.

2. “Serve as a buffer between me and everything else. I don’t like when a bunch of people come at me or a bunch of things are happening. If a loved one can stand between me and everything else, literally.” — Amanda M.

3. “Just be there for me. Hug me if I ask you to. Offer a cool towel for my forehead. Don’t touch me unless I ask you too. Don’t freak out, I’ll be fine once I calm down, but if you don’t stay calm, then I’ll freak out more.” — Beth S.

4. “Talk to me, distract me by talking about things you know I love or like. I need my mind taken off the thoughts that are raging thru my mind. When I seemed zoned out, I’m not I’m there please keep talking. Please do not touch me unless I ask or motion for you to do so as it that could make it worse.” — Amanda C.

5. “When I have panic attacks, I do not like to be touched. So respect distance even though all they want to do is give a hug to comfort. What they can do instead is help me use my senses. Have them ask me what I can see, what I can feel and something I can here. This helps ground me.” — Heather L.

6. “I have someone in my life who’s able to reach me like no one else ever has. They just simply say, slow down, breath, you’re safe, everything is OK and I love you!” — John E.

7. “If we are in a crowded environment, take me somewhere quiet and stay with me until it passes. Talk about your day, about your pets, anything. Just be with me and don’t judge me for my brain deciding that something about my environment or even a flashback was a danger. Tell me it’s OK, and when it gets better that you’re glad I worked through this one and empathize with the strength it takes to go through a panic attack and keep going.” — Ashley A.

8. “Guide me through whatever is going on. When I panic, I lose coherent thought and I’ll freeze if I don’t know where to run. Sometimes, running isn’t an option. I’ve had someone verbally guide me into parking when I tried to drive and had a panic attack. I’ve had someone quietly encourage me to move forward when I had to walk into a courtroom and I froze. Things like that help me get through whatever situation I happen to be freaking out in. Also, hiding me is a great move. If I’m looking for a place to hide and you have one, lead the way! I’ll be forever grateful and feel much closer to you.” — Johnna R.

9. “Writing this I just had a panic attack moments ago. A friend who willing to talk to me on the phone and helped me with my breathing. He reassures that everything is OK and told good things about me. Also, hugs and shoulder to cry on helps.” — Devin D.

Thanks to Amanda for your honestly, and for everyone who supports a loved one through a panic attack.

Image via Creative Commons/gracie otto

Originally published: July 10, 2017
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