Panic Attack: What to Do?

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Some people tend to be overcome by onsets of blinding panic, anxiety, or paifear at times. These onsets can be debilitating, and evince both physical and emotional manifestations.

When such people are undergoing a panic attack, they may evince troubled breathing, copious sweating, trembling, and unusually fast heartbeat.

The symptoms may be worse with some people, including pains in the chest, losing the sense of reality and/or contact with their bodies. Pains can be so strong that some are apt to take it for a heart attack or some kind of a stroke.

These onsets are usually sudden and very frightening. Nevertheless one can abort a panic attack once they have felt that it is coming upon them. Below are some methods to try and shake it off:

You can do it by breathing right

A panic attack brings on breath coming quick, so you can alleviate the symptoms by employing a breathing exercise. What you can try is:

  • take a slow breath through the nose, make it deep and not forced
  • as slowly as you breathed in, let the breath out of your mouth
  • it may help if you keep count during your breathing, and your in-breaths are as long as your out-breaths
  • shut your eyes, concentrate on the process of breathing

If you manage to keep up breathing like this, you will feel anxiety abate, but after a while you may find you have grown tired.

Acknowledge the fact that you are under a panic attack

Once you have grasped that it’s a panic attack and not a heart attack, you realize that it is just a passing phase, and you will be well soon.

Shut off the outside world by closing your eyes

The cause for a panic attack may be a trigger that you failed to mark, but it worked. If you find yourself in quickly-changing surroundings that increase your nervousness, just shut your eyes and try to ignore what is going on around.

This way you can prevent triggers from working and concentrate more deeply on breathing, thereby taking the edge off the onset.

Find an object for concentrating on

It can be helpful if, as soon as you feel a panic attack coming on, you lock on to some object and start to scrutinize it closely. Focus on a convenient object and try and note as many details as you can.

Pay attention to things that may be askew, or moving, like the hands of a large clock. Mark the color, the shape, the pattern, think where the thing would look better, where would you place it if it were yours, and while you are distracted with these ruminations, the symptoms may dissolve.

Keep in mind that it is bound to wear off

While you are overwhelmed, remind yourself that it is only a panic attack that is bound to pass without any consequences. Although it is hard to bear right now, it will blow away.

As the anxiety asserts itself, so it will fade away as unexpectedly as it came, and you will be free.

The countdown method

When a panic attack is on, the victim may lose touch with the real world around – the anxiety grows so strong that it overrides the evidence of senses.

The countdown method is designed to bring yourself down to the ground and bring back the perception of reality. In the process stressful sources are supposed to fade away.

In order to benefit by this technique, one should accomplish five steps as thoroughly as possible.

5: regard five objects – look at them and turn them over in your mind.

4: listen to four different sounds, guess at their origin and list their distinctive features.

3: reach for three objects, mark their temperature, texture, think how one can use them.

2: distinguish two smells – these may include deodorants, perfume, your own hygienic smells; think how you could describe them.

1: think about what you can taste. Imagine eating something or remember a taste of your favorite dish.

Take a brisk walk or do an easy exercise

You can walk away from surroundings that get you down, and meanwhile you can adjust your breathing to your walking rhythm making it more even and controlled.

If you begin to move, your body starts releasing endorphins, the hormones which help relax and boost spirit. Regular workouts are a good way to diminish anxiety and consequently make panic attacks milder and less frequent.

Do exercises that make your muscles relax

Panic attacks are generally closely linked to muscle tension. Those who go in for regular muscle relaxing exercises are less susceptible to panic and anxiety. When you know that you can relax your body easily and control your breath, panic recedes.

Panic and anxiety can be chased away by employing progressive muscle relaxation, a popular technique for coping with stress. Addressing various muscles, you tense them up and then relax.

First, choose a group of muscles and tense them up for about 5 seconds. Then, release them.

Make a 10-second pause for proper relaxation before you proceed.

Imagine you are in a place that makes you happy

Everyone has a special place where he or she felt happy, calm, and contended. They may be common or very peculiar, but they are remembered with a warm feeling.

When you feel an attack coming, close your eyes and recall your personal happy place. Let its quietude envelop you. Picture yourself walking barefooted on soft carpets, warm sand, or in warm water.

Recite a mantra

A mantra to be repeated is a phrase, a word, or even a sound which focuses the mind and gives energy. As you concentrate on repeating a mantra your panic attack drops off you.

A mantra can contain a definite injunction like «All things will pass» or be of a metaphysical or mystic nature. It can be easily understandable by all or extremely personal.

While the repeated mantra sinks in, the individual’s responses grow slower, muscles lose tension, and breath becomes regular. No panic, no anxiety can set in.

How to avoid a panic attack

Panic attacks are usually aggravated by stress. If you happen to know what kind of stress you are laboring under, you can employ measures to weaken it and prevent onsets of panic.

Regular breathing exercises go a long way towards eliminating panic attacks and, if they do come, they will be perceptibly weaker.

Any kind of workout, including aerobics, conduces to diminishing the stress level, strengthening self-confidence, hoisting your mood and helping relax.

Make sure you eat regularly and your diet is healthy

Good eating habits assure stable blood sugar working against panic attacks, while immoderate intake of alcohol, caffeine, and heavy smoking can really bring on an onrush of acute anxiety. There are panic support groups that can assist and advise on coping with panic attacks. Socializing with others who have got the same problem can prove a strengthening factor. Track local groups and see if they are good for you.

Besides, you can resort to CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy, that pinpoints negative patterns causing panic and renders them less devastating.