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How to Deal with a Panic Attack

Unsettled. Scared. Anxious. As a result of a medical condition. When you’re having a panic attack, the sensations you experience might be scary and overpowering.

Panic attacks may be something you’ve never experienced before, or they may be returning due to the current state of the globe. Regardless of how many panic attacks you’ve had or how brief they were, there are a variety of methods available to assist you get through one.

What causes a panic attack?

Panic attacks are abrupt, intense bursts of dread and anxiety, usually lasting only a few minutes at their most intense. People with anxiety disorders are more likely to experience them, but they can occur in anybody. Panic attacks aren’t always indicative of a more serious mental illness.

Approximately 13% of the world’s population has experienced a panic attack at some point in their lives, according to a big poll conducted in 2016. Only 2–3 percent of those persons suffered from panic disorder.

Some symptoms of a panic attack may include:

  • a rapid or palpitating heartbeat
  • sweating
  • breathlessness
  • lightheadedness or dizziness
  • inability to recognize or identify oneself
  • an apprehension of death
  • a burning sensation in the lower abdomen
  • Chills or hot flushes.
  • shaking
  • feel tingly or numb
  • nausea
  • stomach pain

Panic attacks can be brought on by a specific event, such crossing a bridge or giving a speech in front of an audience. The sudden onset of a panic episode might happen to certain persons without any obvious cause.

Fears of another panic attack can have a substantial influence on your everyday life, even if they offer no genuine threat.

Suggestions on how to deal with panic attacks

Strategies that work for someone else may not work for you, so don’t be afraid to try new things. At times, a strategy may be successful, but not at other points in the process.

For the greatest results, it’s important to experiment with a number of methods until you find one that works for you.

1 – Recognize that you are having a panic attack

The first thing you can do when you begin experiencing symptoms is to recognize them as a panic attack. As long as you don’t eat it or drink it, you won’t get sick and it won’t hurt you.

Accepting your emotional condition can help you get through a panic attack, despite the need to flee. Tell yourself that this is only a phase and that it will soon be over. It will be over soon enough.

2 –  Keep your head in place

Many people who suffer from panic attacks find it beneficial to have a sense of where they are in relation to the rest of the world. Keeping your focus on the here and now might help you cope with thoughts of dread and disbelief.

Many methods exist to help you stay centered.

One of them is the 5-4-3-2-1 approach. Focusing on your five senses helps you to become more aware of where you are and what you are doing.

The 5-4-3-2-1 approach is explained in this way:

5: Identify FIVE items that you observe in the environment.

4: Identify FOUR objects you can touch.

3: Identify THREE things you can hear.

2: Identify TWO different scents that you can detect.

1: Identify ONE flavor sensation that you are aware of.

Research has shown that breathing the aroma of lavender can help alleviate some people’s feelings of anxiety.

Are you looking for other grounding methods to try?

  • Put your weight firmly on your feet.
  • Take a bite out of one of your favorite dishes or beverages (for added benefit, do it mindfully).
  • Keep a journal to record your thoughts and feelings.
  • Focus on your heartbeat.

3 – Try relaxing your muscles

Numerous health advantages can be obtained by using muscle relaxation techniques. These include:

  • Lowering one’s heart rate
  • Increasing the quality of one’s sleep
  • Lowering stress levels

Relaxation techniques like progressive muscle relaxation have been shown to lessen anxiety, according to research.

It is the purpose of muscle relaxation techniques to relieve tension throughout the body by progressively contracting and then relaxing muscles. Relax your muscles for 5-10 seconds, depending on your comfort level.

How to get it done:

  • To begin, find a comfortable stance to sit or lie in. Close your eyes and take a deep breath.
  • Take a big breath in and notice how full your lungs feel as you exhale. Taking a few deep breaths, hold your breath and then let it go.
  • Take a deep breath in and hold it for a few seconds before gently exhaling.
  • Let’s start from the bottom. Curl your toes and arch your feet to tense your lower body. Grasp it, then let go of your feet’s tensile stress.
  • Make your calf muscles tight. Hold it, then let it go.
  • Squeezing your thighs together, go on to the next area of your body. Hold for a brief moment before releasing your grip.
  • Activate your abdominal and sternum muscles. Squeeze your stomach and hold it there. Then let go of your body, allowing it to go limp.
  • Bring your shoulders in toward each other to elicit a back muscular contraction. When you’re done holding, release.
  • Get your hands on your hips and shoulders. Make a fist and compress your entire arm in a tight circle. Hold it, then let it go.
  • Face, neck, and jaw muscles should be tense. Hold it, then let it go.
  • Your entire body should be stiff and focused at once. Hold the squeeze for a few seconds before letting go.
  • Move slowly to wake up your muscles. Clear the decks. When you’re ready, open your eyes and stretch.

4 – Become aware of your thoughts and feelings

Mindfulness is all about being aware, remaining present, and embracing how you feel in the current moment.

You may be able to decrease the discomfort of a panic attack by simply accepting your mental and physical state without judgment. You don’t have to be angry or terrified about your symptoms; instead, you may accept and meditate on them.

For treating anxiety, mindfulness-based therapies are equally effective as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), according to a reliable source. Of course, the individual’s rewards will vary.

Practice mindfulness if your panic episodes are frequently prompted by disturbing physiological feelings. Accepting non-threatening bodily sensations rather than attempting to fight them can reduce the risk of panic attacks.

Mindfulness techniques include:

  • meditation
  • yoga
  • a few deep breaths

5 – Visualize a joyful spot in your mind

When you’re having a panic attack, imagine yourself at a place that provides you joy or is surrounded by people who care about you.

Keep a photograph of someone or something that brings you joy close at reach.

6 – Connect with someone

This is better than just picturing the individual that makes your heart happy. Also, they can help remind you that the symptoms you’re experiencing are temporary and won’t harm you.

There are times when you need someone to hold your hand or talk to when you’re in the middle of an assault.

7 – In the end, you’ll have to let it go

It’s also possible to simply endure the panic attack until it ends on its own accord. Contrary to popular belief, embracing your fear rather than avoiding it will speed up and prevent panic episodes.

It’s possible to recover control of your life if you can demonstrate to yourself that you can safely and healthily experience all of these overwhelming symptoms. You come to understand that having a panic attack isn’t going to do you any harm.

The “DARE response,” invented by Barry McDonagh, is a common approach for dealing with panic episodes. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of your terror, focus on the good aspects of your exhilaration.

The DARE response method has not been subjected to rigorous scientific testing.

DARE is an acronym denoting:

  • Defuse: Respond to invasive “what-if” scenarios in your head with “So what?”
  • Allow: Allow yourself to sit with and accept your feelings.
  • Run toward: Reframe your anxiety as excitement.
  • Engage: Keep busy by doing an engaging activity, like reading or having a conversation.

A guide on coping after a panic attack

When you’re not in the midst of a panic attack, it’s important to learn how to deal in order to lessen the chance and severity of future episodes.

1 –  Recognize and manage your stressors

Panic attacks might appear unexpectedly. However, in many situations, there are underlying triggers that cause people to become frightened and anxious. An key part of controlling panic attacks is figuring out what is triggering them. In psychotherapy, identifying your triggers may be really beneficial.

Keeping a journal to reflect on your previous panic attacks might help you identify trends and causes because it can take some time. Not avoiding the triggers is the aim; rather, it is learning to deal with them and dealing with them head-on that is the goal.

2 – Make a plan

Prepare yourself for a panic attack by learning what to anticipate and why they occur. When panic attacks and anxiety disorders are better understood, panic attacks are less likely to occur, according to research.

It’s possible that you already know what worked and what didn’t when it comes to dealing with a panic attack. Your symptoms improved or worsened as a result of breathing exercises. What about getting some exercise?

The more you think about these things, the less likely you will be to have a panic attack again.

3 – Manage your tension

Stress management is a highly effective method for reducing the frequency and severity of panic episodes as well as enhancing general health.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with mental health issues; each person’s treatment plan is unique. Others may benefit from using relaxation and self-care strategies to manage their panic episodes.

Managing stress may be beneficial to everyone, even if it’s a little bit of everything at times.

The following are a few methods for dealing with stress:

  • a few deep breaths
  • taking time out to meditate
  • writing in a diary
  • taking a walk in the woods

4 –  Workout

Whether or not exercise reduces anxiety and panic attacks is a personal matter. Regular exercise has been shown in studies to help reduce stress and anxiety, as well as enhance sleep quality and mental health. Trusted Source

If exercise triggers a panic attack in you, you may want to start with a more easy kind of exercise before trying something more strenuous. It’s also possible to alleviate tension and anxiety by engaging in an exercise program that you love, like yoga or walking.

5 – Take your prescription medicine as directed

If you have been prescribed medicine by a medical expert, be sure you take it exactly as directed. You can always contact them for modifications if you have concerns regarding side effects.

Some antidepressants, such as SSRIs and SNRIs, have been demonstrated in research to be useful in treating panic disorder, according to Trusted Source.

Anxiety or panic episodes may also necessitate the use of additional medications. Anti-anxiety medications called benzodiazepines (such as Xanax or Ativan) work swiftly to alleviate the symptoms of panic attacks. However, because of the potential for tolerance or reliance, these drugs are usually used only when absolutely necessary.

6 – Unhealthy beliefs must be challenged

Anxiety disorders such as panic disorder are commonly treated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Panic episodes are frequently preceded by or exacerbated by negative and fear-based thoughts.

Instead of thinking in irrational or harmful ways, CBT patients are taught how to think clearly and accurately. When you use CBT approaches, you can improve your ability to cope with anxiety and panic attacks by learning new coping strategies and altering your thinking patterns.

7 – Initiate treatment with exposure

During exposure treatment, you are subjected to whatever it is that causes your panic attacks or worries to surface. In 2019, a small research According to a Reliable Source, it may be effective in easing the symptoms of a panic attack.

If you’re afraid of exposing yourself to your triggers, you’re not alone. In the long term, it can make a difference to know that these incidents aren’t going to harm you. A mental health professional should always be present while beginning exposure treatment.

8 – Make an appointment with a medical professional

To get help with panic attacks, you or a loved one can speak with a medical expert.

Telehealth services or calling a neighboring clinic may be an option if you don’t have easy access to a medical expert. There are a variety of therapy choices and coping tactics that may be discussed with medical professionals.

Takeaway

Regardless of how many panic attacks you’ve experienced, dealing with them may be frightening and unpleasant. Anxiety and tension may be overpowering in the most severe cases of panic attacks.

While it may take some time and trial and error to discover what works best for you, panic attacks are really treatable.

Don’t be scared to attempt a different approach if you find that one method isn’t working for you. If your panic episodes become more regular, intense, or unmanageable, you may always seek help from a mental health expert.

Fernanda Avila

Fernanda Avila is a freelance writer who's passionate about providing accurate and helpful mental health content for readers. She believes sharing information can help raise awareness and improve society wellbeing.

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