Panic attack deep breathing

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 is the Correct Way to Breathe During Panic Attacks?

Panic attacks have some very severe symptoms that seem to get worse and worse over time. Many of the most frightening symptoms have to do with breathing. It can feel almost impossible to get a deep breath when you have panic attacks, and many of the worst symptoms are due to breathing poorly.

Panic attack breathing can help you overcome some of the symptoms, and while it cannot stop the attack, it can reduce the severity.

How Breathing Affects Panic Attacks

Your breathing plays a significant role in panic attacks – more so than most people realize. In some ways it causes the majority of panic attack symptoms.

Some examples of the symptoms caused by poor breathing include:

  • Chest pains
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness
  • Trouble getting a deep breath
  • Weak limbs
  • Trouble thinking

The main breathing issue is known as hyperventilation. Despite what many people believe from childhood, hyperventilation is caused by too little carbon dioxide – rather than too little oxygen. Even though hyperventilation makes you feel like you're not getting a deep breath, it is actually caused by breathing out too much Co2 before you're able to produce more.

When you hyperventilate your blood vessels constrict. This causes your body to reduce blood flow to the brain, it causes chest pains, it causes rapid heartbeat and more.

Hyperventilation can be caused by many different scenarios – all of which relate to anxiety:

  • Breathing too quickly* Breathing more than you need
  • Thinking about breathing

The latter is a forgotten reason that hyperventilation occurs, but it's common with those with anxiety. It causes hyperventilation because when you think about breathing your breathing becomes manual, and most people breathe poorly when they breathe manually.

Coughing and any type of issue with breathing out Co2 too quickly can also lead to hyperventilation.

Unfortunately, during a panic attack, hyperventilation tends to get worse, both because anxiety causes you to breathe faster and because hyperventilation makes you feel like you're not getting enough air, so you tend to breathe deeper than your body needs. This combination makes all of your symptoms worse.

Panic Attack Breathing Training

Once hyperventilation occurs, it is very difficult to stop entirely. You cannot simply hold your breath and have all the symptoms go away, nor can you stop a panic attack by breathing alone. But the right breathing can decrease the severity of the symptoms, and when your symptoms are less severe you start fearing them less, thus decreasing your risk of panic attacks in the future.

It's best to start this as soon as you even think you might be hyperventilating, and especially if you start to feel panic attacks coming on:

  • Breathe in through your nose for at least 5 seconds. Try to breathe in through your stomach if possible first, and fill up your chest second. Don't try too hard to expand your chest – hyperventilation makes it very hard to get a full breath, because your body doesn't want a full breath.
  • Hold for 2 or 3 seconds. Not too much longer. Most doctors advise against holding your breath very long, possibly because if your body regains the Co2 balance too quickly you may experience a change in your blood saturation that could cause other upsetting symptoms.
  • Breathe out for 7 seconds by creating a small hole in your lips, almost like you're about to whistle. Repeat as needed

You want to continue the breathing process rather than hold your breath because you want the oxygen levels to return to normal, not be replaced by too much carbon dioxide. It's a slow process, and you may have to fight the panic attack a little, but this type of panic attack breathing can be very valuable for stopping your symptoms from spiraling out of control.

Stop All Panic Attacks

Reducing the severity and frequency of attacks is an important part of curing them. Panic attack breathing is an important first step, but your ability to cope with life events is also going to play a role.

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Breathing in panic attacks and anxiety disorders .ru


One of the common consequences of coronavirus is panic attacks (PA). But attacks can also appear due to endless stress, hard work, lack of proper sleep and rest. All this leads to a deterioration in physical, and most importantly, psychological health.

In this case, experts usually advise you to learn to clearly distinguish between work and free time, to meditate and relax more. In case you're just on your way to a stress-free wellness regimen and still no-no and are facing bouts of AD, we're sharing a simple yet highly effective breathing exercise to help you recover.

expert in the field of breathing practice "Alchemy of Breathing".

It is important to understand that in moderate doses, stress is good for health, in addition, it also motivates us to develop and become stronger. But if you are constantly in an anxious state, cortisol (stress hormone) begins to be actively produced in the body, which leads to a decrease in immunity.

Breathing practices promote relaxation, smooth out fine mimic wrinkles, strengthen the nervous and endocrine systems, improve sleep, metabolism and saturate the body with oxygen.

“Breathing is literally “life”, a “resource” state, which is important to support in every possible way with the help of breathing practices. These classes help a person learn to cope with stress, maintain an inner sense of balance in the flow of affairs and emotions,” says Natalie.

Agree that without internal energy it is more difficult for us to achieve our goals and experience failures. All this leads to even greater tension and even to psychosomatic diseases, in particular to panic attacks.

Try practicing mindful breathing, the first step to relaxation and meditation. Pay attention to how you breathe throughout the day, in different situations - pleasant and unpleasant. Are you able to breathe deeply, or can you only breathe at the level of your upper chest? You may have noticed that in a stressful situation, we begin to breathe shallowly, rapidly, or forget to breathe at all, freezing with fear. To learn how to control such unpleasant moments, you need to regularly perform breathing practices lasting only 5-10 minutes a day. This will help you feel better, calmer and more confident.

As soon as you feel anxiety, a panic attack, you should do this:

  1. sit up straight, put your feet on the floor, start breathing deeply and calmly through your stomach, focusing on your sensations;

  2. feel how cold air slowly fills your lungs and stomach, and how warm air leaves your chest along with anxiety, doubts, negative thoughts;

  3. count from 1 to 4 as you inhale, and then as you exhale. Breathe in this rhythm for 3-5 minutes without stopping.

Even if you have never experienced breathing practices, after the first time you will feel how positively your emotional background will change.

If something is bothering you, “breathe” this pain deeply and calmly until you calm down and the tension subsides. This is how we transform the accumulated emotions into energy, which helps us to act effectively, make informed decisions, better manage ourselves and our emotions.


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When a feeling of panic fear can appear at any moment, even if there is no apparent reason, it spoils life. A sudden feeling of terror can grip a person at home, on the street, or at work. There are several ways to suppress panic attacks. The main and most effective of them is breathing exercises.

When should I do breathing exercises?

You need to start breathing correctly in advance, as soon as you feel that a panic attack is approaching. But how to recognize it? What are its symptoms? Experts identify several signs of the onset of a panic attack:

  • nausea;
  • dizziness;
  • feeling short of breath;
  • anxiety;
  • excitement;
  • confusion of thoughts and consciousness;
  • people cease to control their actions;
  • goosebumps under the skin;
  • profuse sweating;
  • rapid pulse;
  • palpitations;
  • shortness of breath;
  • the appearance of a coma in the throat;
  • rapid rapid breathing.

It is very often difficult for a person who suffers from this disease to recognize the onset of a panic attack. Most people cease to understand what is happening around when there is a feeling of fear.

Breathing Techniques

There are several techniques that can help you calm down and overcome a panic attack. There are five main techniques:

  1. Belly breathing. To perform this exercise, you must take a sitting or lying position. Next, you need to calm down, you can imagine what relaxes you. After that, you should put your hand on the upper abdomen to feel the rise and fall of the anterior abdominal wall. On inspiration, it is necessary to raise the stomach as much as possible by filling the lungs with air. On exhalation, the stomach should be pulled in as much as possible. You need to breathe measuredly, slowly.
  2. 4/4. In this technique, you also need to take a comfortable position. You need to exhale and inhale for 4 counts. Such a technique will help set the rhythm that will suppress a panic attack, calm it down, and also nourish the brain with oxygen.
  3. Slow and deep breathing. This exercise can be done anywhere. You need to straighten your shoulders and take slow measured breaths and exhalations. The technique will help restore the former balance and suppress the panic attack.
  4. Holding the breath. This technique helps when superficial inhalations and exhalations occur. In order to normalize breathing, you need to hold it for 6-10 seconds. Then you need to take a deep breath and inhale.
  5. Rhythm synchronization. The exercise is similar to the 4/4 technique. Only for this technique you need to feel the pulse, inhale for the first four beats, exhale for the second.

Why is it effective?

When a panic attack occurs, breathing becomes erratic and begins to quicken. At rest, breathing is slow. By performing the above exercise techniques, a person activates the areas of the brain that are responsible for sleep, rest and relaxation of the body. It helps to calm down and gain control over your body.

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