Ways to calm panic attacks

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
  • dizziness

The symptoms of a panic attack are not dangerous, but can be very frightening.

They can make you feel as though you're having a heart attack, or that you're going to collapse or even die.

Most panic attacks last somewhere from 5 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 1 to 5 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."


  • practice breathing exercises every day to help prevent panic attacks and relieve them when they happen
  • practice regular exercise, especially aerobic exercise, to 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
  • try a panic support groups to get useful advice about how to manage your attacks – your GP can put you in touch with groups in your area
  • try cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to 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

Source: Health Scotland - Opens in new browser window

Last updated:
05 January 2023

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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.

1. Seek


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.

Mindfulness involves:

  • 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
  • conflict
  • 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
  • sweating
  • 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.

10 best ways with reviews, advice from doctors

First, let's figure out what a panic attack is. This is a sudden attack of unreasonable anxiety or fear, which is often accompanied by rapid heartbeat, heavy sweating, trembling in the hands and feet 1 . A person during a panic attack may experience chest pain, nausea, and discomfort in the abdomen. Nervous diarrhea may even develop 1 . There is a fear of suddenly dying, getting a heart attack, or that something terrible is about to happen. At the moment of an attack, a person does not even realize where he is and what is happening to him. The world may seem unreal, and the usual outlines of objects blur.

It is obvious that causeless panic usually does not occur out of the blue. This condition is preceded by prolonged or acute stress. Sometimes panic attacks occur against the background of anemia, problems with the thyroid gland, adrenal glands, but this is extremely rare 2 .

If panic attacks poison your life and prevent you from concentrating on work or your favorite activity, you should contact a psychotherapist or psychiatrist who can prescribe medication. But equally important is psychotherapy.0003 2 . At sessions with a psychotherapist, you will learn how to manage your emotions, extinguish panic on your own, and deal with the psychological causes of panic attacks 3 .

Top 10 Ways to Get Rid of Panic Attacks

If a panic attack has taken you by surprise, you can try to get rid of it yourself. In this article, we will look at several effective ways to restore peace of mind on our own.

1. Watch your breath

When we are afraid, our breathing quickens and the concentration of carbon dioxide in our blood decreases. Because of this, there is a feeling of lack of air, which further enhances the panic attack.

Therefore, first of all, during a panic attack, you need to calm your breathing. To do this, the most ordinary bag, which you need to breathe in, can help until your breathing becomes even. If there is no bag with you, you can fold your palms in a boat and breathe in them.

Another option is to try breathing deeply and slowly. For example, first inhale very slowly and deeply, and then exhale with force and for a long time so that there is no air left in the lungs. Repeat several times. You can imagine that you are breathing through your mouth through a narrow cocktail tube: inhale and exhale very slowly until your breathing starts to return to normal 2 .

2. Distract yourself by a pain signal

Sometimes physical impact allows distraction from impending panic. For example, you can strongly pinch your hand, pat your face with your palms, rub your cheeks or ears, and strongly clench and unclench your fists. The brain will switch to processing the pain signal, and this will allow it to distract from the panic. Some people who suffer from panic attacks even wear a special band around their wrists. When they feel that an attack is close, they pull it back and let it go. Pain click helps to return to reality.

Another exercise that psychologists advise to quickly get rid of a panic attack on your own. We find a point between the thumb and forefinger on the hand and sharply press on it so that it hurts. So we repeat 3 times, after which we carry out the manipulation on the other hand.

3. Wash your face with cold water

Another fairly simple and effective way to get rid of a panic attack is to wash your face with cold water. It literally “sobers up” and relieves an attack of rolling anxiety. In winter, you can rub your face or hands with snow. A contrast shower also helps a lot: changing hot and cold water will invigorate and distract you from unpleasant thoughts 2 .

4. Use the senses

To quickly get rid of a panic attack, you can use your senses: smell, taste. Try chewing mint gum or sucking on a menthol candy. The more "thermonuclear" - the better! In the end, take a sip of water or just take a bite and chew slowly, fully focusing on the taste.

You can also carry a bottle of eucalyptus, pine or orange essential oil and breathe it in.

5. A change of scenery

A change of scenery can help distract you from your growing anxiety. For example, you are in a noisy company and feel that you are about to panic. Go to the next room, ask to be left alone for a while. If possible, go to the entrance, to the street.

6. Switch to the outside world

Switching to the outside world helps divert attention from panic anxiety. Count (preferably aloud) cars passing by, lit windows in a neighboring house, birds flying by, buttons on clothes, books on a shelf, etc. Touch what a warm and soft scarf, what a smooth and cool glass cup, what a rough upholstery to the touch. Say out loud whatever comes to your mind 2 .

The main thing is to switch the brain from internal experiences to reading and processing external information. You can carry a rosary with you during an alarm, sort through them and count them.

7. Listen to music

Music is an excellent medicine that can also help with panic attacks. If you feel anxiety coming on, turn up your favorite music. Sing out loud, maybe even dance. If you don’t have a radio or a telephone at hand, just sing loudly and you will feel how the fear recedes.

8. Focus on your own body

During a panic attack, it is important to be able to control your own body. This will help relieve trembling in the hands, soothe stray breathing and heart palpitations. Try to relax as much as possible. Imagine that you are using an internal “scanner” to determine exactly where fear and panic are formed in your body. Feel for this tense area and mentally try to relax it. Say to yourself or out loud that everything is fine, that the attack will end soon, that no one has died from a panic attack yet, and it will not bring harm to health. Combine this with correct breathing, and soon the condition will improve significantly 3 .

9. Breathing practices

Breathing practices, yoga, meditation are suitable for both beginners and "advanced". Of course, you should not expect that you will instantly plunge into nirvana, distracted from all experiences. But even simple meditation exercises will help relieve muscle and emotional tension.

Yoga classes are a great way to establish mental balance. Photo: Pixabay

You are not required to know all the asanas or get into the “dancing dragon” pose. It is enough to sit on the floor and take a comfortable position or lie down. Close your eyes and focus all your attention on some object. Breathe deeply and slowly while saying the instructions: “My fear is gradually disappearing”, “I can keep my emotions under control”, etc.

10. Physical exercise

Jogging, swimming, any sport, even an ordinary walk, promotes the active synthesis of endorphins - hormones of joy. They act as a safe antidepressant - relieve anxiety, improve mood and sleep.

Psychologist's advice on getting rid of panic attacks

As counseling psychologist , member of the Russian Psychological Society Elena Akhromeeva advises, it is important to remember that a panic attack is limited in time. It can last from 5 minutes to 2 hours, but it will definitely end anyway. The realization of this fact is already able to calm a little.

You can also do some effective exercises to help get rid of panic.

1. Grounding exercise

When a person panics, "the ground comes out from under his feet." The body is not felt as a source of support, but as if it has “gone crazy”. This is called a state of loss of control. Therefore, the task of a person is to organize support for himself through the body, realizing and feeling its physical parameters.

  • Weight. We can feel the weight of our body.
  • Vol. We occupy a certain volume in space: where I sit, stand, in what part of the room.
  • Posture or movement. We can develop activity, perform some action or movement.
  • Balance. The body itself keeps balance without much effort.
  • Contour. Our body is in contact with the outside world (feeling of how the feet are on the floor, how the muscles of the thighs are in contact with the chair, etc. )

Try to become aware of all these parameters. This will return the feeling of control over your body and condition.

Anxiety disorder

How to distinguish the disease from the norm

An anxiety disorder is a constant and uncontrollable feeling of anxiety that lasts more than 6 months without objective reasons. Discuss with experts what drugs are prescribed for anxiety

More about the problemLearn about treatment

2. Grounding exercise through the 5 senses

Another exercise that will help you ground yourself through the use of the 5 senses of your body:

  • Find 5 red objects (or any other) around you.
  • Find 4 sounds you are hearing right now. For example, the noise of cars, the sound of a clock, the sound of a refrigerator, the cry of children on the street.
  • Smell 3 things. You can smell your hair, hands, a book, cream, fruit, pastries.
  • Touch 2 things. For example, a soft toy, a blanket, a table surface. If you are outside, pick a branch and touch it. You can touch the hair, the body.
  • Taste something. Gum, candy, soda.

3. Breathing with emphasis on exhalation

  1. 1-2-3 – inhale;
  2. 4-5-6 - breath holding;
  3. 7-8-9-10 - exhale.

The exhalation should be longer. This is necessary in order to saturate the body with carbon dioxide. So stress hormones (adrenaline, norepinephrine, dopamine, etc.) will be broken down faster. This means that the panic will pass faster. But opening a window, going out onto the balcony during a panic attack is not recommended. Our task is to lower the level of oxygen in the blood and increase the level of carbon dioxide.

Try to breathe with your stomach: you can put your hand on your stomach and make sure that your hand rises when you inhale. This is done in order to exclude shallow breathing and, as a result, hyperventilation of the lungs, which leads to a feeling of lack of air.


Palm Exercise

Rub your palms as if you were trying to warm them. Rub your palms together quickly and vigorously until you feel heat in them.

Now place one hand just above the heart (pericardial plexus area). And the other hand - in the area of ​​​​the solar plexus.

Focus on the feeling of warmth from your hands. Try to breathe so that you can feel your hands moving. You will feel a little sleepy, and this is normal.

This exercise activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for relaxation and relieving internal tension.

5. Throw out all your emotions

This exercise is suitable if the panic attack started at home. Ask yourself: what do I want now? What movement do you want to make?

For a burst of tension, you can scream, cry, hit the pillow. Imagine that you are a small child who is hysterical, yelling, stamping his feet and waving his arms.

6. Wet Dog Exercise

You can also imagine that you are a wet dog shaking off its fur. Shake your arms, legs, torso, as if trying to brush off drops of water from yourself. Physical movement breaks down stress hormones and helps the body ground itself.

7. Drink plenty of water

Adrenaline, which is responsible for the feeling of anxiety, will leave with urine.

Popular Questions and Answers

What causes panic attacks, how long do they last, will valerian help relieve anxiety, and other popular questions are answered by our expert - counseling psychologist, member of the Russian Psychological Society Elena Akhromeeva.

Why do panic attacks occur?

— If you do not have problems with the thyroid gland, anemia, vitamin D deficiency, B12, tumors of the adrenal glands, then the causes of panic attacks have psychological roots.

The body responds to human emotions and feelings by producing certain hormones (adrenaline, norepinephrine, dopamine). The fight-flight-freeze response to stress is triggered, which activates the autonomic nervous system. And since it regulates the work of all internal organs, the variety of uncomfortable bodily sensations during a panic attack is easily explained - more than 40 of them have been described in total.

So it is important to remember that panic attacks are not an independent disease, but just a symptom. Panic attacks can occur with adjustment disorders, anxiety, panic and depressive disorders. Panic attacks also occur in personality disorders.

Thus, it is necessary to study the psychological "ground" of each individual person. What life difficulties (psychological trauma, experiencing loss, difficult choices, interpersonal and intrapersonal conflicts, problems with adaptation) have become a source of anxiety and internal tension.

Why is a panic attack dangerous?

- In terms of physical health, panic attacks are completely safe.

A panic triggering body will never self-destruct! The load on the body during a panic attack is comparable to lifting 9floor by stairs. It's absolutely safe.

But from the point of view of the psychological state, panic attacks greatly reduce the quality of life.
A person begins to be afraid of them. A “fear of fear” is formed when a person begins to avoid various life situations, places, conversations on certain topics, conflicts, just not to experience anxiety again. Because the emotion of anxiety itself is associated with a panic attack. The person is trying to keep control of his feelings, which causes great tension. Against this background, depression can even develop.

How long can a panic attack last?

- Several minutes to 2 hours. The shorter the attack in time, the more intense it feels. And vice versa: the longer the attack lasts, the less pronounced the panic and symptoms. This is due to the process of release and breakdown of stress hormones.

Which doctor should I contact for panic attacks?

— To a psychiatrist or psychotherapist. It is not advisable to go to a neurologist. Firstly, a competent modern neurologist will immediately redirect you to a psychiatrist or psychotherapist. Second, panic attacks are an area of ​​mental health treatment. But neurologists do not treat the psyche, they deal with nerve endings. So in any case, the main method of treating panic attacks is psychotherapy.

How to distinguish a panic attack from an arrhythmia?

- "I'm afraid of a heart attack", "Something with my heart", "I'm dying, my heart can't take it" - frequent thoughts during a panic attack. Indeed, the symptoms are similar at first glance. And people who experience a panic attack for the first time often call an ambulance. It is better not to guess and be examined.

To make sure that everything is in order with the heart, I recommend going to a cardiologist who will prescribe the necessary examination. And if the doctor says that the heart is healthy, you will know that increased heart rate and other discomfort in the chest are just symptoms of severe anxiety and have nothing to do with organic arrhythmias.

Do valerian, motherwort or calming dietary supplements help with panic attacks?

- They help like a placebo. Because only psychotropic drugs available by prescription can really relieve an acute attack of anxiety.

If during a panic attack you drink valerian, and after 20 minutes you let go, then it was not valerian that helped. It is you who returned to a state of stability on your own.
We went to the closet, found a first aid kit, found the necessary sedative, took a glass, poured water, drank, looked out the window, washed ourselves, walked around, called a friend to complain, etc. See how many actions that allow you to ground yourself. And it's not bad if the power of suggestion works.

Sources :

  1. Panic attacks (clinic, diagnosis, principles of treatment). Vorobieva O.V. Treatment of diseases of the nervous system. No. 2 (17), 2015. https://www.elibrary.ru/item.asp?id=25837082
  2. Anxiety, fear and panic attacks. Self help book. A.V. Goloshchapov. St. Petersburg, 2016. https://goo.su/mFvlwit
  3. Panic attacks and their correction. Arutyunova E.E., Tsygankov B.D. Russian Medical Journal, No. 1, 2017. https://www.elibrary.ru/item.asp?id=9474794

Panic attack: what to do during an attack in order to quickly get back to normal

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I don’t feel like doing anything, I’m constantly haunted by a feeling of sadness, hands down… Do you know these feelings lately? Then you should urgently read the book "From Burnout to Balance: How to Calm Your Nerves, Relieve Stress and Recharge" by MIF. In fact, burnout is a very serious problem that, if not dealt with, can lead to much more serious consequences: stress and even depression. If your anxiety has reached its peak and you are experiencing chest pain and shortness of breath, you may have panic attack. In the chapter below, Imogen Dall explains what symptoms indicate an attack and gives effective ways to deal with it.

What symptoms indicate that you are having a panic attack:

  • increased heart rate;
  • sensation of heat in the body;
  • ringing in the ears;
  • pre-syncope;
  • feeling of coldness in the body;
  • horror, fear of death;
  • excessive sweating;
  • trembling limbs;
  • nausea;
  • feeling of suffocation;
  • abdominal discomfort;
  • chest pain;
  • dizziness;
  • difficult breathing;
  • numbness or tingling in the limbs;
  • tingling in the fingers;
  • dry mouth;
  • trembling in the body;
  • urge to go to the toilet;
  • feeling of unreality of oneself.


What to do if you're having a seizure

Tips to help you deal with a panic attack:

  1. You don't die. You thought it was the end of the world, but your body is showing standard reactions. Believe me, the discomfort will pass and you will feel better, even if the brain tries to convince you otherwise.
  2. Set yourself up positively. Tell yourself that everything will be fine with you, you will manage. The attack will last only 20-30 minutes, or even less.
  3. Perform breathing exercises . Breathe as slowly and deeply as possible. Inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth. I put my hand on my stomach to make sure it fills with air (this is called diaphragmatic breathing). If your breathing is shallow and fast, if you are unable to think of anything else but it, you may be having an attack of hyperventilation and the level of carbon dioxide in the body is reduced. To normalize it, breathe into a clean paper bag.
  4. Come back to reality. There are two great ways. First: close your eyes and focus on your body. Relax your toes first, then your feet, and mentally move higher until you reach your head. Do not forget about the small muscles of the face - the lower jaw, the frontal muscle. The second method is called the "5-4-3-2-1 technique" and helps you focus on the world around you. Mark five things you can see, four you can touch, three sounds, two smells, and one taste.
  5. Aroma of calmness. A hysterical rich woman with smelling salt - doesn't that remind you of the heroine of some comedy? Don't laugh, but I carry a small bottle with a mixture of rosemary and peppermint oils, and it really helps me a lot. These scents allow you to focus on deep breathing and are associated with relaxation. When I get excited, I apply oil to my temples and the bridge of my nose. Perhaps some pleasant aroma will help you relax too.
  6. After an attack, give yourself some time to reduce your stress levels. Prepare a cup of fragrant tea. Take a bath. Stroke your pet. Play a relaxing video game like Animal Crossing, Kind Words, Journey, Coffee Talk or Monument Valley. Take a nap. When the weather is nice, go for a leisurely walk - it's a great way to calm down and restore your breath.
  7. Relax tense areas of the body. Do you know where stress accumulates in your body? It wasn't until a long time later that I realized that almost every day I clench my jaw, purse my lips, and tense my thigh muscles. Most often in stressful situations, we use the muscles of the forehead, neck, shoulders, abdomen, arms and legs.
    It is useful to do stretching exercises regularly to feel how the body is filled with air. Diaphragmatic breathing will help increase blood flow to the muscles and calm the nervous system, which constantly gives the body signals of danger. I recommend starting with Keith Locklin's Five Daily Stretches, yoga or sports massage. Stretching with a Pilates top hat, lacrosse ball, or tennis ball is a good idea to help loosen up specific areas.
  8. Take control cortisol . An abrupt change in blood sugar levels has a huge impact on mood. This is because sugar stimulates the release of cortisol, the stress hormone. Try to control your blood sugar levels, and minimize your intake of sweets, caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, and processed foods.


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