How to stop having a anxiety attack
How to deal with panic attacks
A panic attack is a feeling of sudden and intense anxiety.
Panic attacks can also have physical symptoms, including shaking, feeling disorientated, nausea, rapid, irregular heartbeats, dry mouth, breathlessness, sweating and dizziness.
The symptoms of a panic attack are not dangerous, but can be very frightening.
They can make you feel as though you are having a heart attack, or that you are going to collapse or even die.
Most panic attacks last somewhere from five minutes to half an hour.
How to handle a panic attack
Professor Paul Salkovskis, Professor of Clinical Psychology and Applied Science at the University of Bath, says it's important not to let your fear of panic attacks control you.
"Panic attacks always pass and the symptoms are not a sign of anything harmful happening," he says. "Tell yourself that the symptoms you're experiencing are caused by anxiety."
He says don't look for distractions. "Ride out the attack. Try to keep doing things. If possible, it's important to try to remain in the situation until the anxiety has subsided."
"Confront your fear. If you don't run away from it, you're giving yourself a chance to discover that nothing's going to happen."
As the anxiety begins to pass, start to focus on your surroundings and continue to do what you were doing before.
"If you’re having a short, sudden panic attack, it can be helpful to have someone with you, reassuring you that it will pass and the symptoms are nothing to worry about," says Professor Salkovskis.
Breathing exercise for panic attacks
If you’re breathing quickly during a panic attack, doing a breathing exercise can ease your other symptoms. Try this:
- breathe in as slowly, deeply and gently as you can, through your nose
- breathe out slowly, deeply and gently through your mouth
- some people find it helpful to count steadily from one to five on each in-breath and each out-breath
- close your eyes and focus on your breathing
You should start to feel better in a few minutes. You may feel tired afterwards.
Visit the No Panic website for another breathing exercise to calm panic.
Ways to prevent panic attacks
"You need to try to work out what particular stress you might be under that could make your symptoms worse," says Professor Salkovskis. "It's important not to restrict your movements and daily activities."
- Doing breathing exercises every day will help to prevent panic attacks and relieve them when they are happening
- Regular exercise, especially aerobic exercise, will help you to manage stress levels, release tension, improve your mood and boost confidence
- Eat regular meals to stabilise your blood sugar levels
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and smoking – these can make panic attacks worse. Panic support groups have useful advice about how you can effectively manage your attacks. Knowing that other people are experiencing the same feelings can be reassuring. Your GP can put you in touch with groups in your area
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can identify and change the negative thought patterns that are feeding your panic attacks
Is it panic disorder?
If you feel constantly stressed and anxious, particularly about when your next panic attack may be, you may have panic disorder.
People with panic disorder may avoid situations that might cause a panic attack. They may also fear and avoid public spaces (agoraphobia).
"There's no quick fix, but if your attacks are happening time after time, seek medical help," says Professor Salkovskis.
Read more about panic attacks, including personal stories, at See Me Scotland.
What They Are, How to Stop, and More
Panic attacks can be scary and may hit you quickly. Here are 12 strategies you can use to try to stop or manage panic attacks. Some may help you in the moment, while others can help in the longer term.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other types of counseling can often help people who have panic attacks and who have panic disorders. CBT aims to help you change the way you see challenging or frightening situations and to help you find new ways to approach these challenges as they arise.
You can find CBT for individuals or groups, online or face-to-face, and the length of treatment can also vary. In exposure-based CBT, your therapist will expose you to something that can trigger a panic attack and help you work your way through it.
As well as changing behavior, there is some evidence that CBT might affect structures in your brain that are responsible for panic symptoms.
In 2018, some researchers found evidence that people who attended four weekly sessions of exposure-based CBT experienced changes in the neural pathways involved in panic symptoms. However, this was an early study, and more research is needed.
In 2018, 37 people in Korea attended a mindfulness-based program once a week for 4 weeks, to see if brief treatment would help reduce symptoms of panic disorder. One aspect of the treatment was to focus on their heart rate, as some people experience cardiovascular symptoms during a panic attack.
The findings suggested that the participants could better manage their symptoms using their own thought processes after the treatment. However, this was a small study, and there was no control group. More research is needed to find out how effective short-term therapy can be.
2. Take medications
Benzodiazepines, such as alprazolam (Xanax), can help treat the symptoms of panic when they occur.
However, they won’t help treat an underlying anxiety disorder and can quickly lead to dependence. For this reason, doctors only recommend them for short-term use during a crisis.
Because benzodiazepines are a prescription medication, you’ll likely need a panic disorder diagnosis to have the medication on hand.
In some cases, a doctor may prescribe anti-depressants for long-term use. Examples include:
- selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as escitalopram (Lexapro) or fluoxetine (Prozac)
- serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), such as duloxetine (Cymbalta)
- anti-anxiety drugs, for instance, azapirone (Buspirone)
Some anti-seizure medications, such as pregabalin or clonazepam, can also help treat anxiety.
Which drugs can treat anxiety disorder?
3. Use deep breathing
While hyperventilating is a symptom of panic attacks that can increase fear, deep breathing can reduce symptoms of panic during an attack.
In one study, published in 2017, 40 people joined either a therapy group that involved deep or diaphragmatic breathing or a control group. After 20 intensive training sessions, those who practiced deep breathing saw improvements in their attention levels and emotional well-being.
Blood tests also showed lower cortisol levels in this group, suggesting lower levels of stress. The participants did not have panic disorder, but the strategies could help people who have panic attacks.
Another group of scientists found that slow breathing could have similar effects. They suggested it could also improve feelings of relaxation, comfort, and alertness and reduce symptoms of arousal anxiety, depression, anger, and confusion.
If you’re able to control your breathing, you’re less likely to experience the hyperventilating that can make other symptoms — and the panic attack itself — worse.
Focus on taking a deep breath in through your nose, feeling the air slowly fill your chest and belly. Then slowly exhale through your mouth and feel the air leave your body. Breathe in through your nose for a count of four, hold for a second, and then breathe out through your nose for a count of four:
What is diaphragmatic breathing and how do you do it?
4. Recognize that you’re having a panic attack
By recognizing that you’re having a panic attack instead of a heart attack, you can remind yourself that this is temporary, it will pass, and that you’re OK.
Take away the fear that you may be dying or that impending doom is looming, both symptoms of panic attacks. This can allow you to focus on other techniques to reduce your symptoms.
It is not always possible to avoid triggers for a panic attack, but if you know what triggers it, this can help you understand that it is a panic attack and not something else.
5. Close your eyes
Some panic attacks come from triggers that overwhelm you. If you’re in a fast-paced environment with a lot of stimuli, this can feed your panic attack.
To reduce the stimuli, close your eyes during your panic attack. This can block out any extra stimuli and make it easier to focus on your breathing.
6. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness can help ground you in the reality of what’s around you. Since panic attacks can cause a feeling of detachment or separation from reality, this can combat your panic attack as it’s approaching or actually happening.
- focusing your attention on the present
- recognizing the emotional state you’re in
- meditating to reduce stress and help you relax
Focus on the physical sensations you are familiar with, like digging your feet into the ground or feeling the texture of your jeans on your hands. These specific sensations ground you firmly in reality and give you something objective to focus on.
Experts say that mindfulness strategies, such as meditation, can help manage anxiety symptoms, although it’s not clear they can treat an underlying anxiety disorder.
American Family Physician recommended mindfulness as a strategy for dealing with panic and anxiety in 2015, saying it can be as helpful for reducing stress as CBT and other behavioral therapies.
Some research has suggested that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy could help people with anxiety disorders who are receiving medical treatment but haven’t found drug treatment helpful.
Online meditation options
Read our review of the best online meditation options to help find the right fit for you.
7. Find a focus object
Some people find it helpful to find something to focus all their attention on during a panic attack. Pick one object in clear sight and consciously note everything about it possible.
For example, you may notice how the hand on the clock jerks when it ticks, and that it’s slightly lopsided. Describe the patterns, color, shapes, and size of the object to yourself. Focus all your energy on this object, and your panic symptoms may subside.
8. Use muscle relaxation techniques
Muscle tension is a symptom of anxiety, and muscle relaxation techniques can help reduce tension and promote relaxation during an attack. Progressive muscle relaxation aims to release tension in one group of muscles at a time to relax the whole body.
Much like deep breathing, muscle relaxation techniques can help stop your panic attack in its tracks by controlling your body’s response as much as possible.
If you attend muscle relaxation therapy, your therapist might take you through the following steps:
- First, you may learn how to tense the muscles before releasing the tension.
- Then, you will learn how to relax the muscles without tensing them first.
- You may also learn how to relax specific sets of muscles, for example, in the shoulders, for practical use in everyday situations.
- Finally, you may learn how to practice rapid relaxation, when you can identify any areas of tension and release it as needed.
To start relaxing your muscles at home, consciously relax one muscle at a time, starting with something simple like the fingers in your hand, and move your way up through your body.
Muscle relaxation techniques will be most effective when you’ve practiced them beforehand.
9. Picture your happy place
Guided imagery techniques can help reduce stress and anxiety. Research suggests that both spending time in nature and visualizing nature can help treat and manage anxiety.
What’s the most relaxing place in the world that you can think of? A sunny beach with gently rolling waves? A cabin in the mountains?
Picture yourself there and try to focus on the details as much as possible. Imagine digging your toes into the warm sand, or smelling the sharp scent of pine trees.
This place should be quiet, calm, and relaxing — no streets of New York or Hong Kong, no matter how much you love the cities in real life.
Here, learn about five visualization techniques that can help you meditate.
10. Engage in light exercise
Research shows that regular exercise can not only keep the body healthy but boost mental well-being, too.
Experts have found that exercising at 60 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate for 20 minutes three times per week can help reduce anxiety.
If you are not used to exercising, talk with your doctor before starting. There is some evidence that starting aerobic exercise anew can trigger additional anxiety in people with an anxiety disorder. Building up gradually can help your body adjust and avoid breathing problems. Aerobic exercise includes activities such as running on a treadmill.
If you feel stressed or you’re hyperventilating or struggling to breathe, stop and take a rest or choose a more moderate option, such as walking, swimming, or yoga.
11. Keep lavender on hand
Lavender is a traditional remedy that many people use to reduce stress and help them relax.
Research suggests it has a calming effect but doesn’t lead to dependence or cause withdrawal symptoms. Using products that contain diluted lavender oil may help reduce or manage symptoms of anxiety.
However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate essential oils, and strengths and ingredients vary widely.
If you use lavender essential oil, make sure you:
- get your oil from a reputable source, such as a pharmacy
- follow the instructions for use
- avoid applying concentrated oil directly to the skin
- avoid using lavender with benzodiazepines because the combination can cause intense drowsiness
While research suggests there are health benefits, the FDA doesn’t monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils. It’s important to talk with a healthcare professional before you begin using essential oils and be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products. Always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.
Which essential oil is right for you?
12. Repeat a mantra internally
Repeating a mantra internally can be relaxing and reassuring, and it can give you something to grasp onto during a panic attack.
Whether it’s simply “This too shall pass,” or a mantra that speaks to you personally, repeat it on loop in your head until you feel the panic attack start to subside.
Panic attacks are sudden, intense surges of fear, panic, or anxiety. They are overwhelming, and they have physical as well as emotional symptoms.
If you have a panic attack, you might find you have difficulty breathing, you sweat profusely and tremble, and you may feel your heart pounding.
Some people will also experience chest pain and a feeling of detachment from reality or themselves during a panic attack, so they may think they’re having a heart attack. Others have reported feeling like they are having a stroke.
Panic attacks can happen for various reasons, and sometimes they happen for no apparent reason.
You’re more likely to experience them if you:
- have panic disorder
- have another anxiety disorder
- use certain substances or have a substance use disorder
- use certain medications
- have a medical condition, such as an overactive thyroid
- have a condition that involves psychosis
A panic attack often happens when you’re exposed to a trigger, but triggers vary widely between people. In some cases, there may be no clear trigger.
However, some people find that the following can trigger an attack:
- social events
- public speaking
- situations that remind you of past or current stress in your life
Here, learn more about the causes and triggers of panic attacks.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) defines a panic attack as “an abrupt surge of intense fear or discomfort.”
They tend to start without warning, and symptoms reach a peak within minutes.
If you have a panic attack, here are some of the symptoms you might experience:
- a pounding heart, palpitations, or rapid heart rate
- shaking or trembling
- difficulty breathing or feeling as if you are choking or being smothered
- chest pain or discomfort
- nausea or stomach upset
- feeling dizzy, light-headed, or faint
- feeling unsteady
- chills or feeling hot
- numbness or tingling
- feelings as if things are unreal
- feeling detached from yourself.
- fear of losing control or “going crazy”
- fear of dying
It is not always possible to prevent a panic attack, but the following tips may help:
- do breathing exercises every day
- get regular exercise
- follow a diet that is low in added sugar and eat regularly to avoid glucose spikes
- avoid caffeine, smoking, and alcohol, as they may make anxiety worse
- seek counseling and other professional help
- ask your doctor about local support groups
Avoiding specific triggers may help prevent a panic attack, but this may not always be possible or appropriate. Some experts encourage people to “ride out” the attack and continue doing things, if possible.
However, if a situation is likely to cause severe distress, consider waiting until you’ve worked with a professional to develop skills and strategies to help you cope.
If you have concerns about panic attacks, consider talking with a doctor, especially if:
- You have one or more panic attacks and continue to worry about panic attacks for a month or longer.
- You find yourself changing your behavior after an attack.
- Your concerns or feelings of fear or anxiety are affecting your work, studies, or daily life.
Many people experience panic attacks, in which they suddenly feel anxious and not in control of a situation, possibly without knowing why.
You may feel breathless or as if you are having a heart attack, and it can be very frightening.
Panic attacks can occur unexpectedly and have a significant impact on your daily life, but there are ways to manage them. Treatment is also available for panic and anxiety disorders, which may be an underlying condition.
If you have concerns about panic attacks, speak with your doctor. They can help you work out a suitable strategy to manage symptoms and reduce the impact. This may involve medications, such as antidepressants, alongside counseling.
Read this article in Spanish.
8 doctor's advice on how to stop a panic attack
It seems that the usual reality is bursting at the seams, we are disturbed by disturbing thoughts - all this provokes the occurrence of nervous disorders and panic attacks. Together with emergency doctor Maria Kovalchuk, we figure out how you can help yourself in such a difficult time for the psyche.
medical editor Ekaterina Mazeina
We lose control of ourselves when we have a panic attack. But it is important to understand that this condition can be dealt with, because it does not pose a physical threat to a person. It is important to learn to pull yourself together and slowly return to normal life.
Panic attack is a sudden attack of intense fear that causes severe physical reactions. There is usually no real danger or obvious reason. When panic attacks happen, you may think that you are having a heart attack or that you are even dying. Mayo Clinic Inhalations and exhalations should be conscious, long, deep. Deep breathing helps ease the response to stress and anxiety. You can use different breathing techniques:
Diaphragmatic breathing, in which the abdominal wall should rise on inhalation and fall on exhalation.
Simple slow breathing. It is better to inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Shoulders and back need to be straightened.
Using account. You need to inhale and exhale, each time counting to four. It’s good if you can focus on counting and breathing.
Breath-hold. If inhalations and exhalations become frequent, superficial, you can hold your breath after inhalation for a few seconds. This will help you breathe more slowly and deeply.
2. Find a quiet place
During an attack, it is better to find a calm, quiet place where there will be fewer people. It is desirable that you can sit there, relax until normal health is restored. A separate room, foyer or study will do. You can just go outside and sit on a bench. You need to take a comfortable position, try to relax. It is recommended to use meditation or relaxation techniques. This will help you deal with anxiety.
If you have nowhere to go, you can just close your eyes for a while and focus on your breathing. The method helps especially well if the attack begins due to the fact that a person finds himself in a crowd, in a moving vehicle, at a holiday.
4. Imagine something pleasant
You can cope with fear and anxiety by imagining something pleasant, safe, associated with positive emotions. It can be a place where a person feels comfortable, a beloved animal, someone close. The main thing is that the image evokes positive emotions and helps to calm down.
Read everything about panic attacks and fighting them on MedPortal.
5. Tighten and relax your muscles
To relieve an attack, you can use the simplest muscle relaxation technique: for example, alternately tense and relax individual muscle groups. It can be the muscles of the back, arms, legs, abdomen. Tension and subsequent relaxation helps to control the state of the muscles, focus on it, distracting from anxiety and fear. Such exercises help you learn to quickly distinguish between tense and relaxed muscles, recognizing the approach of a panic attack.
6. Remember that the attack will end soon
In a few minutes, a strong fear will let you go. You can repeat to yourself that fear is only caused by a panic attack, that this condition does not need to be controlled, that it will quickly pass by itself. This will help to get rid of the fear of death and the feeling of impending danger.
7. Take control of your health
A panic attack can feel like a heart attack or suffocation. It is necessary to be examined by a doctor, to monitor the state of health, so as not to confuse a panic attack with symptoms of a dangerous condition. If such episodes happen regularly, tell your therapist about them, describe how you feel during them. This will help you understand if the symptoms are really related to stress, anxiety, or they have another reason. Regular diagnosis and health care help reduce anxiety levels.
8. Focus on sensations
Attacks are often accompanied by a feeling of unreality of what is happening, a feeling of detachment, detachment, loss of control. The ability to focus will help to cope with this. You need to focus on familiar sensations: for example, the texture of the fabric under your fingers or the tactile sensations when you feel the keys. By focusing on them, you can distract from the anxiety that provokes an attack in order to maintain control over the situation.
To make it easier to focus on sensations, you can carry a special object for this: for example, a key chain, a pen, or any other small, well-known object. If a panic attack begins at a time when there is nothing suitable at hand, you can focus on any subject, note all its features to yourself. It can be a clock on the wall, a tree on the street, a parked car, a view from the window: any object that will help shift attention.
Comments Cackl e
How to stop a panic attack quickly: 6 principles ".This is not true. Panic manifests itself in the body, in breathing, in the beating of the heart, in the stomach, in the muscles. This is a real, physically felt fear.
Since this horror is experienced both physically and psychologically, we often conclude for ourselves: "If I'm scared, then there is some kind of danger." It seems to us that our feelings reflect the real facts. But in fact, emotions remain just emotions and are not always connected with reality.
Take, for example, horror films. Intellectually, we are well aware that they do not pose the slightest danger to us, but we are still very scared.
An attempt to suppress thoughts is doomed to failure. When the next attack of horror begins, most of us try to suppress it with an effort of will. Alas, we usually achieve the exact opposite effect - fear does not weaken, but only intensifies.
To be able to effectively stop panic attacks and gradually get rid of panic disorder, it is important to know a few basic principles, some of which are not at all obvious and even paradoxical.
- A panic attack is not really an "attack" at all. Our nervous system is simply wrong, trying too hard to protect us. There is a kind of false operation of our internal "alarm", because there is really no danger.
- Even if in a moment of panic it seems to us that we are about to go crazy or die, this is not so. No one has ever died from a panic attack.
- Panic attack occurs due to sensations in the body and in turn exacerbates these sensations. There is a positive feedback between the physical and psychological experiences of fear and anxiety.
- Don't try to fight the panic attack. The way to overcome panic attacks may at first glance seem paradoxical. Instead of resisting, just “accept” what is happening, then the attack will most likely end faster. It is possible that at first it will not always work out, also accept this fact, constantly repeat to yourself that everything will be fine and your body just made a mistake and is trying to protect you from imaginary danger.