I once dated someone who had panic attacks. It seemed to help to be a reality check. Just being there and being normal, and calm, continuing with regular activities, slowly and with confidence, can be reassuring. The panic attack can feel like the sky is falling. If you, the non-panicking one, are very obviously not panicking, it’s reassuring.
The worst thing was what I did the very first time I saw one, which was to think something was physically wrong, and get a little panicky myself, ask if I needed to call 911, take a pulse, and basically seem really worried-- which I was, because as far as I knew, it could be the start of anything from a heart attack to anaphylaxis.
But I learned to recognize the panic attack. Sometimes I would even say “This is a panic attack; nothing is wrong. It will seem like a long time, but really, it will be over in a few minutes.” I would ask “Can I give you a hug?” Usually the answer was yes, and the pressure seemed to help, kind of like a thunder shirt on a dog. Once in a while, she just needed to keep moving, so the answer was “No,” and I left it without comment.
A couple of other things that helped were to lower the temperature in the room, and to minimize lights and noise-- basically reduce stimuli. I’m not sure why lowering the temperature helped; probably because her heart was pounding, and that made her hot, and set off a feedback loop, where feeling hot told her she needed to be panicking, and cooling off disrupted it. If we were in a public place, I’d take her to the quietest spot I could, or to the car, if that was available.
When she got a job with good health insurance, she saw a psychiatrist who put her on medication for them. It took several tries, but she finally found a combination of a very low dose of an antipsychotic (so low, it probably wouldn’t have helped if she’d actually been psychotic), and a tricyclic antidepressant. The tricyclic was unusual. They aren’t prescribed very often anymore because they aren’t the best medications for depression, but for her, it helped with this off-label use.
She also cut way back on her caffeine consumption. The tricyclic helped her sleep better, so she didn’t need help staying awake, and not getting as much caffeine seemed to help cut down on the panicking.