Stopping a Panic Attack

Take These Steps To Stop A Panic Attack

A panic attack can be upsetting and frightening. With several million Americans experiencing panic attacks on a regular basis and many more experiencing a panic attack once or more but not regularly they are not uncommon.

If you have experienced a panic attack and not yet discussed it with your doctor, that is the first best choice. Having a doctor you trust listen to your experience can help determine whether your experience is in fact a panic attack and what you can do to help prevent it happening again.

The nature of a panic attack is a sudden onset of unexplained fear or intense anxiety. Panic attacks are often accompanied by intense physical symptoms like racing heartbeat, sweating, feeling faint, feeling that you may die, and more.

Lowering your daily stress, exercising, getting good sleep and reducing your caffeine intake can help reduce the number of panic attacks any person experiences by lowering your overall anxiety.

If you are in the middle of having a panic attack though, you need some immediate action you can take to get it to slow down or stop. Take a look at these three techniques to help bring a panic attack under control. 

Recognize the signs of a panic attack

If your panic attacks give you intense physical symptoms (like chest pain or heart palpitations), it’s a good idea to get checked out by a doctor to make sure that there really is nothing physically wrong with you. Once you have that assurance, try to remember it when you feel a panic attack starting. Although your emotions may be screaming, “I can’t breathe! I’m going to faint! I’m dying!”, try to distance yourself from that noise and recognize these symptoms as perfectly normal signs of a panic attack. Simply knowing that what is going on is a normal panic response and that it is a symptom of psychological, rather than physical, distress may help you to power through to the end of the attack.

Breathe deeply

When we’re panicked or stressed, we tend to breathe rapidly from our chests; this is a shallow form of breathing that usually has the effect of making us feel even more stressed and out of control. Counteract this response by practicing deep, slow breathing. Place one hand on your chest and one on your belly; as you breathe in, try to make your belly expand with air, rather than your chest. Inhale slowly through the nose or through pursed lips (you may find it helpful to count silently up to four on your inhale, and then exhale for a count of four). Close your eyes and focus on your breath, on your hand as it rests on your belly, on the air as it enters your nose and flows down the body. This focus will help you to slow your panicked breathing and your racing heart rate, as well as give you something to focus on besides your panic.

Tell the people close to you what to do

The people who love you may mean well, but they simply might not know what to do when you’re having an attack. Take the time when you’re not panicking to verse them on how best to help you when you’re in the midst of an attack. Tell them what they shouldn’t do (like saying, “You’re just being silly; this is all in your head!”), as well as what they should (Do head massages help you? Show your partner how to do it! Does it help to do a body scan? Tell your best friend how to lead you through one.)

Finally, everyone’s panics attacks are a bit different, and so everyone has different needs when it comes to combatting them. If you’re having panic attacks, a therapist will be able to help you come up with strategies for dealing with attacks in the moment that are customized to your attacks and your triggers.
– via

Four More Steps To Stop A Panic Attack

One thing that is important to remember during a panic attack is that it will end. Most panic attacks reach their peak in a matter of minutes – fifteen or twenty minutes.

Remember, you can take the steps that work for you and wait it out. Once it has run its course you will begin to feel like yourself again soon.

Here are 4 more steps to take that can help you stop a panic attack.

“Don’t believe everything you think.” Tsilimparis uses this motto with his clients. That’s because when you’re having a panic attack, it’s common to experience racing thoughts that feel intense and catastrophic. Remembering that these thoughts are simply a symptom of the panic attack — like a cough to a cold — can help to de-escalate it, he said.

Ground yourself. Another common symptom of a panic attack is derealization, an unnerving feeling of being disoriented. People feel like they’re floating, and things just don’t seem real, says Tsilimparis, who’s also one of the therapists on A&E’s Obsessed, a show about severe anxiety disorders.
He suggests that readers “ground themselves in something that feels tangible,” such as running your fingers along your keys or grabbing the doorframe.

“Be reflective, not reactive.” This is another motto Tsilimparis uses to help clients stop letting irrational thoughts overwhelm them. It’s common to experience phobic thoughts that further accelerate your attack.

For example, many people have thoughts such as, “I’m going crazy,” “I’m going to die” or “everyone will leave me,” Tsilimparis notes. Writing these negative thoughts down on paper helps your mind switch “from victim to observer.” It gets people outside their minds, he said.

After recording their thoughts, Tsilimparis has clients “write up more rational and grounded statements,” such as “that phobic thought is just part of my panic attack” or “I have a loving family.”

Practice positive self-talk. People can feel ashamed about their panic attacks and become very self-critical. Instead of pointing fingers, talk to yourself in positive ways. Remember that there’s no shame in experiencing panic attacks. You can say a statement such as “I’m going to be OK.”
– via Psych Central

Have you ever experienced a panic attack?