Use Your Smartphone For Distraction
My Words With Friends addiction is a tad out of control, but it sure comes in handy when Im feeling eclipsed by panic.
Games like crossword puzzles and word searches , says Dr. Masand. The idea is it can act as a distraction to the fear or the body symptoms of anxiety. Our smartphones offer a plethora of great coping tools and this is something the majority of us already carry with us. Download some games that will distract you and get your mind off of the unpleasant symptoms you are feeling. You can also download relaxing music and guided relaxation sessions.
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 doesnt 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 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
Which essential oil is right for you?
Tips To Help You Get Through A Panic Attack
Panic attacks can be physically and mentally exhausting, and they are often difficult to manage. We reached out to members of our community for suggestions on how to cope with panic attacks and anxiety. Here are some helpful ideas that you came up with.
1. Know your triggers
Increasing self-awareness and knowledge about your own mental health is always a plus. The more you KNOW your triggers and how your anxiety presents itself, the easier it will be to talk yourself through an attack. Mindy H.
2. Leave the situation
I remove myself from the situation immediately, go home, and pet my dogs its the best I can do right now. I have to take care of myself, and when my body is sending me distress signals, I have learned to respond before I have a meltdown. Cathy M.
I hide in bathrooms I feel safe in the cubicles. Jon I.
I go for a walk. Even if Im at work, a quick 10 or 15 minute walk works wonders. Melissa S.
3. Grounding techniques
I look around to find 5 things I can see, 4 things I can touch, 3 things I can hear, 2 things I can smell, and 1 thing I can taste. Its called grounding. Sam A.
Grounding techniques. Focus on whats around you, what it looks like, the smell, the texture. Gia S.
Look around you for
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can touch
- 3 things you can hear
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
This is called grounding. It can help when you feel like you have lost control of your surroundings and/or your head. Tracy K.
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When To Use Medication
Sometimes, panic attacks cannot be managed entirely alone. If panic attacks become an ongoing concern or they cause significant anxiety or fear about future panic attacks, it might be necessary to see a therapist or doctor.
Types of therapeutic interventions that have been shown to have the best outcomes include cognitive behavioral therapy and humanistic therapy. CBT involves understanding the relationship between thoughts and behaviors and working toward changing negative or distorted thoughts to more positive, helpful ones.
One study found CBT to be between 85% and 90% successful in treating panic disorders.
Humanistic therapy is a type of intervention that helps people make rational decisions and accept responsibility for themselves. Common humanistic therapy approaches include client-centered therapy, gestalt therapy, and existential therapy.
If therapy alone is not effective in treating panic attacks, as may be the case in severe cases of panic disorders, medications may be recommended and prescribed by a psychiatrist. Commonly prescribed medications that have been shown to be effective in helping with panic disorders include antidepressants and benzodiazepines.
Recognize That Youre Having A Panic Attack
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.
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Here Are 7 Tips For Calming A Panic Attack:
1. Focus on Your Breathing
Many anxiety attack symptoms have to do with your heart rate and breathing rate. In fact, you might have issues with breathing, such as hyperventilating. As a result, this can further exacerbate your anxiety attack.
One of the best things you can do for calming your anxiety attack is to focus on your breathing. Take a deep breath in, but dont exhale just yet. Hold it for about 5 seconds, and then slowly let it out.
Repeat this process until you can noticeably feel yourself calming down. This is the first thing you should try when it comes to how to deal with anxiety attacks.
2. Ground Yourself
In the moment, it can feel very scary to have a panic attack. You might even wonder if its anxiety or a heart attack.
But a vital thing you can do is ground yourself. Instead of focusing on how scary the attack is, focus on the things that are tangible to you.
For example, focus on your clothes feel against your skin, how the air smells, or how the texture of the wall looks. It might help to just pick one thing and focus all your attention on it.
This type of mindfulness is a great anxiety attack remedy.
3. Relax Your Muscles
While youre having a panic attack, youre probably tensing up a lot of muscles without even realizing it. Thats actually one of the common signs of an anxiety attack.
4. Be Conscious of the Fact That the Attack Will Pass
5. Do Some Light Exercise
6. Speak to Your Therapist
7. Speak to Your Loved Ones
Panic Attacks And Panic Disorder
Getting a panic attack occasionally is typically nothing to worry about. It could happen to anyone depending on the situation they find themselves in. However, if youve been getting frequent panic attacks and cant seem to identify the triggers, you might have a condition called panic disorder.
A person with a panic disorder might experience such frequent panic attacks that it affects their daily functioning. They might become socially withdrawn because they are ashamed of their condition.
Panic disorders are more likely to occur in women than in men. It also starts to develop in your late teens or early adulthood.
If youve been having frequent panic attacks and cant identify any triggers, its advisable to speak to your doctor or healthcare provider about it. About 11% of Americans experience panic attacks, and up to 3% of that number have developed a panic disorder.
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What Can A Panic Attack Do To Me
It makes me feel afraid, that’s what a panic attack does. And, if I’m having a panic attack, I’m already there! I’m already experiencing the worst that will happen. I just need to ride it out. That’s the surest path to overcoming panic attacks.
Why should I accept a panic attack? Because the more I resist panic, the worse it gets. The more I develop the habit of acceptance, the more progress I make toward my goal of overcoming panic attacks.
That’s Acknowledge & Accept. How does that compare to what you usually do during a panic attack?
Close Your Eyes And Breathe
Whenever you find yourself having a panic attack, take a moment to lie down, close your eyes, and take a deep breath in. Then out. In. Then Out. In. Out. Breathing deep naturally helps slow your heart rate to help you calm your anxiety. Taking the time to focus on your breath helps move your mind into the present inside of the past or future. Find time each day to get that quiet moment to yourself just to breathe. The more you practice mindful breathing, the fewer panic attacks youll have.
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Second: When The Attack Ends Make A Hot Or Cold Drink
Once the panic attack is over, it is time to deal with the hangover period. As I said above, this period can last for as little as ten minutes, or for as long as a week or longer. For those who have not experienced this, the hangover period is the period right after a panic attack where the person feels particularly anxious, depressed, exhausted, frustrated, delicate, confused, spaced out, or some combination thereof. I usually feel emotionally fragile during this period, in that things that I usually do not find particularly noteworthy can have me either laughing hysterically or bursting into tears.
When I worked for a narcissistic boss, and the frequency of my panic attacks was probably at its highest, the first thing I would do after an attack was go downstairs and make a cup of tea. This simple, routine task gave me something to do with my hands for the couple of minutes I needed to get my thoughts in order. As well as that, the taste of the tea and the feeling of the hot liquid in my mouth gave me something familiar to focus on. It sounds small, but having that tangible bit of familiarity nearby is my secret weapon for this initial stage of the hangover period.
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How To Stop A Panic Attack: 5 Psychology
A psychologist provides key steps to get through these scary times.
We are living in scary and uncertain times, so itâs hardly surprising that a new study has found the number of Google searches for âanxietyâ and âpanic attacksâ has increased since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
Some degree of anxiety about the current situation is normal. After all, anxiety is one of the most functional human emotions we have. Itâs like our very own built-in alarm system that keeps us safe, warns us of danger and sends signals to our body to get ready to respond.
The global pandemic has seen a rise in threat and danger in the outside world. As a result our alarm system is switched on more than ever. We rarely get the opportunity to feel completely safe, as even in our own homes we are constantly reminded of the threat outside with the news, limits to socializing and local lockdowns.
While some anxiety is normal and helpful, it can become a serious difficulty for some, taking over every aspect of day-to-day life. In these instances, our brain tells us that everything is dangerous â making even the most normal of tasks, like going to the supermarket, or even leaving the house, seem impossible.
During a panic attack you might notice some common physical sensations including racing or pounding heart, feeling sick or having an upset stomach, sweating or feeling hot, shaking, hyperventilating and feeling faint.
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What To Do To Cope With A Panic Attack
When I had my first panic attack at the age of 19, I believed with absolute certainty that I was in mortal danger. I lie in my dorm room bed for what felt like hours, clutching my pounding heart and gasping for air. Fifteen interminable minutes later, it was as if it had never happened, and I felt relatively normal but that wouldn’t be the last incident. I went on to have many more panic attacks, and have since been diagnosed with a panic disorder . I’m among two to three percent of Americans with PD while 18.1 percent of Americans have anxiety disorders in general the most common mental illness. Since that day, Ive treated my condition both with therapy and medication.
Despite managing my PD, I do still suffer the occasional panic attack, but with professional guidance , Ive learned that there are simple things I can do to stop a panic attack in its tracks. I talked with mental health professionals to discuss why my own techniques work and what more those of us living with panic attacks can do.
Carry Essential Oils A Plush Fabric And Other Multisensorial Objects
One of the worst symptoms of panic attacks in my experience is that sense of unreality like Im somehow outside my body. Dr. Rodriguez recommends carrying items with you that can help engage your senses to help ground you.
Things like essential oils can help bring you back into your body, she says, adding to carry a soft, fuzzy piece of fabric or even feel your own shirt. Feel it, think about it, listen to it.
Other ways of anchoring yourself during an attack include rubbing your hands or bare feet on a surface such as a chair, couch or rug, says Dr. Schaeffer. Put an ice cube in a paper towel and squeeze it as hard as you can in one hand for a minute until you can feel the coldness and discomfort. Switch hands and repeat until you have the same sensations in your other hand.
When we avoid panic or treat it like an enemy, we make it stronger.
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Understand Their Panic May Not Make Sense To You Or Them
Panic attacks can be confusing as well as scary. People generally cant predict them and theres often no clear cause. They can happen in stressful situations but also during calm moments or even during sleep.
It might seem helpful to tell your friend theres nothing to be afraid of. But theyre probably perfectly aware theres no actual threat.
Thats part of what makes panic attacks so confusing. The reaction matches a fear response but nothings happening to cause that fear. In response, someone who gets panic attacks might begin to fear the symptoms themselves, or link them to a serious health issue.
Its typical to feel embarrassed or ashamed of such an intense reaction, Bingham explains. But having a trusted companion offer compassion can allow space for the person to return to baseline.
You can be that person even without understanding why they get panic attacks. Thats far less important than your ability to offer empathy and recognize their distress as real and significant.
Treatment For Panic Attacks And Panic Disorder
The most effective form of professional treatment for tackling panic attacks, panic disorder, and agoraphobia is therapy. Even a short course of treatment can help.
Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on the thinking patterns and behaviors that are sustaining or triggering your panic attacks and helps you look at your fears in a more realistic light. For example, if you had a panic attack while driving, what is the worst thing that would really happen? While you might have to pull over to the side of the road, you are not likely to crash your car or have a heart attack. Once you learn that nothing truly disastrous is going to happen, the experience of panic becomes less terrifying.
Panic attacks: what they are and what to do about them Free course to help you manage panic.
Panic Disorder Explanatory video from Khan Academy and American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
Hotlines and support
NAMI Helpline Trained volunteers can provide information, referrals, and support for those suffering from anxiety disorders in the U.S. Call 1-800-950-6264.
Find a Therapist Search for anxiety disorder treatment providers in the U.S.
Support Groups List of support groups in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and South Africa.
Anxiety UK Information, support, and a dedicated helpline for UK sufferers and their families. Call: 03444 775 774.
Anxiety Canada Provides links to services in different Canadian provinces.
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What Not To Do When Someone Is Having A Panic Attack
While its tempting to help your loved one avoid the feelings of panic by distracting them from their bodily sensations or taking them away from the situation, these are considered safety behaviors. While safety behaviors might help to ease anxiety in the moment, they could actually reinforce a cycle of panic that exists in panic disorder.
Safety behaviors and distractions can prevent people from learning that panic attacks, while uncomfortable, are not actually harmful or dangerous.
Your loved one can handle panic without actually doing anything, and its important for them to know that anxiety about panic goes away on its own without causing them harm.
Cognitive behavioral therapy a major method for treating panic disorder teaches you strategies to reduce your anxiety and avoidance around panic attacks. The idea isnt to prevent them but to sit with them until they inevitably pass. And often, you experience fewer panic attacks over time as you grow to fear them less.
The most effective way to react to a panic attack is just to ride it out instead of resisting or escaping it. While escaping a panic attack in the short term reduces anxiety, it just drives the panic cycle in the long term because you reinforce beliefs that panic is dangerous, harmful, or something that must be avoided at all costs.
The idea is to allow the symptoms to just be, which helps you to view panic attacks as a manageable experience, not one that needs to be escaped.
Tell Yourself Youre Just Processing Information
When youre suffering from PTSD, panic attacks are so often you cant tell when youre actually having one. Youre in a constant state of fight or flight for months on end. Youre too scared to fall asleep and terrified while being awake. Eventually, when you do finally fall asleep, you wake up from nightmares that scare you awake. Sometimes they come as often as every ten minutes.
A social worker once told me that nightmares are the brains way of processing information. The best way to combat them is to say processing information every time you wake up from one. This little trick has helped desensitize nightmares over the long-term so you feel less panicked after waking up from one.
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