Get To A Comfortable Environment
During a panic attack, your senses may feel overwhelmed. Loud, busy, and bright environments can make panic attacks worse because they cause too much sensory input. Furthermore, being in crowds or in triggering situations can worsen symptoms.
Avoid these issues by getting to the most comfortable environment possible quickly. For example, you may go into your bedroom, turn off the lights, and avoid the television. If youre at work, you can go to a private area or your office. If youre driving when panic attacks hit, be sure to pull over in a safe place and do not drive until you can focus again.
Get Some Space And Talk To Yourself
Get out of the stuffy room that youre in and get away from all the other people. Find a quiet spot, or even go out to your car if you have one. Then, talk to yourself.
Talk through how you feel and what is going on in your head. Try to understand why youre having a panic attack in the first place, and figure out a rational spot in your head.
Talking it out is just like writing it out, once its out of your head its much easier to process.
Find Some Private Space To Normalize With This Posture
While you shouldnt, say, bolt from the company meeting if youre having a panic attack, you may want take a break in a quiet place where you can sit.
When you feel one coming on, if possible, try and go to your nearest bathroom or a private conference room, then, lower your head until it’s almost between your knees and focus on taking slow, deep breaths, says Wright. You may be able to self-regulate and de-escalate the panic attack by doing this. If you can’t go somewhere private and this happens in a meeting, pretend you have to lean down to tie your shoe or accidentally drop your phone on the ground and stay down until you feel yourself normalizing.
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Give Yourself A Simple Massage
In order to stop panic attacks, youll need to help yourself relax. Unfortunately, going to the spa regularly can be out of some peoples price range. So youll have to practice pampering yourself. There are a few spots that do the trick.
When having a panic attack, massage the top part of your nose between the eyes. Just move your finger up and down gently to help you relax. You can also massage your wrists or feet. Sometimes rubbing your chest above the heart can help you unwind. Some people rub ice on themselves in a massaging motion to help stop panic attacks. So you can try that too!
Slow Deep Breathing Is Key But You Should Practice Every Day
Long, deep breaths calm your body down, but they can be tricky to implement if youre not used to doing them. Dr. Schaeffer suggests that to make this practice easier, you should do it daily anxious or not.
Practice full-body breathing every day, he tells NBC News BETTER. Breathe in deeply through your nose and imagine your whole body filling up with air like a balloon. Next, make your mouth small like you are exhaling through a straw. Slowly exhale through your mouth until you feel like all the air has completely emptied from your body. Repeat this about 10 times and notice any changes in your heart rate or body tension. Once you are comfortable with this kind of breathing, use it during a panic attack to slow your heart rate and calm down.
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Prep Your Outfit In Advance
Choose what youre going to wear at least one day in advance. It should be something that makes you feel confident, and is also comfortable.
Oh, and seriously, now is not the time to experiment with a new hairstyle or makeup look. Trust me. Unintentionally turning up as the bride of Dracula does not a good impression make!
Panic Attack Vs Heart Attack: How To Tell The Difference
Your heart suddenly begins racing. You feel pain in your chest and you are short of breath.
Are you having a heart attack? Or could it be a panic attack?
Although they share a number of similarities, the two conditions result from very different disease processes. Panic attacks arise when stress hormones trigger the bodys fight or flight response, often resulting in racing heart, chest pain and shortness of breath.
In the case of a heart attack, a blockage in a coronary artery may result in the same symptoms. Chest pain, rapid heartbeat and breathlessness may result when an insufficient amount of blood reaches the heart muscle, says Tung.
One of the key distinctions between the two is that a heart attack often develops during physical exertion, whereas a panic attack can occur at rest.
A heart attack is more likely to develop when the work load of the heart increases, for example while a person is shoveling snow or running up the stairs, especially in people who do not routinely engage in physical exertion.
Another difference is duration: Panic attacks tend to gradually subside and resolve on their own within about 20 minutes. A heart attack, however, will often continue and may worsen over time.
When Your Heart Skips a Beat
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Always Seek Professional Advice
Always seek medical advice if you are not sure whether your symptoms, or another persons symptoms, indicate a panic attack. In an emergency, dial triple zero for an ambulance. Its important to see your doctor for a check-up to make sure that any recurring physical panic-like symptoms are not due to illnesses, including:
When To Use These Strategies
While its never too late to put one of these panic attack strategies into place, you may find that starting early is the most effective way to use these methods. If you start to learn what the early stages of panic look like to you, you can start these strategies before panic sets in.
If you want to learn more about ways to handle your anxiety, contact a florida therapist today. The mental health professionals here can help you learn to calm yourself and address the underlying problems causing anxiety.
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Take Care Of Yourself
Dont beat yourself up for feeling the way you do. Also, dont think you have to push these feelings away.
Embrace how youre feeling and listen to it. If youre feeling anxious, take a break.
Spend some time alone and do the things you enjoy. Taking care of yourself helps prevent panic attacks from happening because youre more in tune with how you feel.
Try Muscle Relaxation Techniques
Another symptom of panic attacks is muscle tension. Practicing muscle relaxation techniques may help limit an attack. This is because if the mind senses that the body is relaxing, other symptoms such as rapid breathing may also diminish.
A technique called progressive muscle relaxation is a popular method for coping with anxiety and panic attacks.
This involves tensing up and then relaxing various muscles in turn. To do this:
The End Of Everything: What A Panic Attack Feels Like
Only 16, Caroline, had her first panic attack a year ago. Her mother was dropping her off at her summer job at a local school when, without warning, a full-blown panic attack engulfed her. My heart started racing and my body felt so hot. I started to sweat and shake uncontrollably. My vision became distorted and my body felt limp, like a wet noodle, she says. For 20 minutes, until the panic attacked passed, Caroline refused to get out of the car. Her mother didnt know what to do.
Kirstie Craine Ruiz, 46, has lived with anxiety, panic attacks, and panic disorder for about ten years. For a long time, she had full-blown attacks 2-3 nights a week. I would usually awake to a racing heart or the feeling of my heart expanding in my chestas it might explodeFrom there, I would begin to panic and my heart would go even fasterand my body would shake so hard that it felt like I was having a convulsion. I could barely breathe and was usually pretty sure I was having a heart attack and that I was going to die. Sometimes Id go the ER and theyd hold me overnight because my heart would be going so fast and they couldnt get it to go down.
Challenge Your Negative Thoughts
Changing your thoughts is always easier said than done, especially when you’re in the middle of a panic attack. But the more often you practice replacing negative, scary thoughts with ones that are more positive, the easier it will become.
“People with panic tend to catastrophize or see the worst in things,” Masand says. For example, if you’re panicking while on the subway, it might be because you’re vividly imagining something going wrong, even when everything’s a-OK.
“Carry some positive mantras or sayings to bring you back to reality,” Masand says. “Or better yet, prepare your own. When you have the negative thoughts of gloom and doom, write down some positive and more realistic rebuttals.”
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Are There Any Natural Alternatives To Panic Disorder Medication
Medications arent the only option for treating panic disorder. There are several steps you can take to help calm yourself down and lessen the symptoms of a panic attack while its happening.
- Counting slowly to 10
- Talking to someone you trust about whats happening
Cognitive behavior therapy is another non-medication option. CBT is a type of talk therapy where people with panic disorder work with a mental health professional to identify triggers, understand symptoms, and develop responses to panic attacks.
CBT is a first-choice option for treating this condition, and studies show CBT can be used by itself for panic disorder or as an add-on treatment to medications. Discuss this option with your healthcare provider if youre interested.
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Consciously Relax Your Muscles
If your panic attacks cause you to tense all the muscles in your body, this technique is for you. Like deep breathing, this exercise takes the focus from your worries and puts it on your body. However, breathing deeply, you will consciously try to release tension in each muscle.
Start by imagining turning off the muscles in your feet and ankles. Think about all the tension leaving this area. Try this for at least a few seconds, then move to the lower legs. Take a few moments to relax each muscle group, including your arms, back, neck, and face.
You might also want to try another technique called PMR which involves tensing and releasing all your major muscle groups. It may seem counterintuitive to further tense muscles that are already tense, but, like a pendulum swing, when we tighten muscles that are already tense, they release into a calmer/looser state than they were at baseline. For a description of how to do PMR, visit:
If youre worried about having a panic attack, write down these strategies and keep them with you. When you feel panic coming on, refer to your list and try one or two of the strategies.
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Stop An Anxiety Attack With Belly Breathing
Feeling short of breath is a hallmark symptom of an anxiety attack. But you can make the feeling worse by taking short, shallow breaths. Try belly breathing instead to stop the anxiety attack.
Carbonell compares the type of breathing youll need with the breathing of infants, whose bellies rise and fall with each inhale and exhale. When an anxiety attack starts, exhale deeply, loosen your shoulders, and focus on some longer, deeper inhales and exhales that let your belly rise and fall. Place one hand on your belly if you need to feel this happening.
The Truth Is That Theres Not A Breath You Take In This World That Is Prologue
And your first breath? Chances are, it was a scream. A horrifying, desperate gasp and screech. And someone in the room your mother, the doula, the midwife, the doctor, the nurse who held your head when you were halfway between this world and the next smiled to hear it. They loved your scream because it meant you were here.
A panic attack feels like a full body scream. It careens through you, leaves your body filled with shakes and moans. A panic attack is messy and ugly and loud even the ones you endure silently.
To have a panic attack is to be painfully, intensely alive.
Theres nothing romantic about them, but I take comfort in thinking of panic attacks as evidence that, contrary to the years I spent telling myself I wasnt yet living a real life, I possess a will to live so strong that it sometimes shakes me to my bones. I want to live so badly that Im terrified to do it. But I go ahead and keep on living anyway, screams and all.
#OCDame is a weekly column about chronic mental illness by Jenni Berrett. While shes no doctor or counselor by any means, she does have extensive experience in being batshit crazy which she doesnât think is as bad a thing as the world would lead you to believe. Each week she puts that ongoing experience to good use by writing things that have been stuck inside her heart for too long in the hopes that they will help unstick somebody elses heart, too.
Find more articles from OCDame by . You can also shoot Jenni an email at .
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Talk To Someone Friendly
Another very effective technique is to talk to someone you like and trust, especially on the phone. Don’t be shy about your anxiety – tell them you feel anxious and explain what you’re feeling.
Talking to nice, empathetic people keeps your mind off of your symptoms, and the supportive nature of friends and family gives you an added boost of confidence. If you’re suffering from a panic attack, it also helps you feel more confident that if something were wrong, you’d have someone that can watch over you.
Stopping Panic: What To Do When Youre Having A Panic Attack
Here, some strategies that have worked for others that may help you:
Use Muscle Relaxation Techniques
Much like deep breathing, muscle relaxation techniques can help stop your panic attack in its tracks by controlling your bodys response as much as possible.
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 youve practiced them beforehand.
Causes Of Panic Attacks And Panic Disorder
Although the exact causes of panic attacks and panic disorder are unclear, the tendency to have panic attacks runs in families. There also appears to be a connection with major life transitions such as graduating from college and entering the workplace, getting married, or having a baby. Severe stress, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, or job loss can also trigger panic attacks.
Panic attacks can also be caused by medical conditions and other physical causes. If youre suffering from symptoms of panic, its important to see a doctor to rule out the following possibilities:
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Signs And Symptoms Of Panic Disorder
While many people experience just one or two panic attacks without further episodes or complicationsand theres little reason to worry if thats yousome people go on to develop panic disorder. Panic disorder is characterized by repeated panic attacks, combined with major changes in behavior or persistent anxiety over having further attacks.
You may be suffering from panic disorder if you:
- Experience frequent, unexpected panic attacks that arent tied to a specific situation
- Worry a lot about having another panic attack
- Are behaving differently because of the panic attacks, such as avoiding places where youve previously panicked
While a single panic attack may only last a few minutes, the effects of the experience can leave a lasting imprint. If you have panic disorder, the recurrent panic attacks take an emotional toll. The memory of the intense fear and terror that you felt during the attacks can negatively impact your self-confidence and cause serious disruption to your everyday life. Eventually, this leads to the following panic disorder symptoms:
Anticipatory anxiety Instead of feeling relaxed and like your normal self in between panic attacks, you feel anxious and tense. This anxiety stems from a fear of having future panic attacks. This fear of fear is present most of the time, and can be extremely disabling.