What To Do Before A Panic Attack
There are certain things you can do before a panic attack strikes that will help you better prepare yourself mentally for whats to come. These moments you spend preparing can successfully desensitize you from the events, people, things and/or circumstances that might cause you to panic. In addition to this, the preparation you do now will help you handle stress, worry, anxiety and unexpected change with more thought and control.
Here are some suggestions to help you prepare yourself mentally and physically for the likelihood of a future panic attack:
How To Reduce Anxiety In The Long Term
If you find that you’re often suffering from anxiety and nervousness, even when you’re not in a situation that typically cause that level of anxiety, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders cannot be cured overnight but many people do improve. They’re the result of years of experiences, and they take time to heal.
The fastest way to reduce anxiety is to first identify what you’re experiencing, and then use step by step methods to move forward.
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Develop Techniques To Help Manage Day
Its also important to manage your mental well-being on a micro level. According to experts, lowering stress in your life whenever possible, maintaining a healthy diet, reducing alcohol and caffeine intake and sticking to a regular exercise routine may all help keep anxiety at bay on a regular basis. If anxiety and panic attacks are interfering with your everyday life, it also might be helpful to speak with a mental health professional. The condition is highly treatable.
Bottom line, its important to remind yourself that you are more in control than you think. And arming yourself with the tools may help you better endure any panic-related episodes that come your way.
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Develop Your Emotional Coping Skills
Panic attacks are often triggered when you are unable to handle the less-intense emotions you experience throughout the day. For instance stress, worry, anxiety, and fear are all common emotions that the typical person experiences that can often lead to a panic attack. It, therefore, makes sense that to ward off the possibility of experiencing a panic attack, that we must learn to better manage and cope with these four critical emotions.
Take time to gain as much knowledge as you can about each of these emotions, and then work on learning to cope with them more effectively on a day-to-day basis. Initially, you might feel a little reluctant and might not make a lot of progress. However, with persistent effort and dedication over time, you will develop the necessary coping skills that will help you manage these emotions successfully. And once these emotions are under-check, then you will be less likely to experience a panic attack resulting from one of these emotional experiences.
What Do Panic Attacks Feel Like
During a panic attack, physical symptoms can build up very quickly. These can include:
- a pounding or racing heartbeat
- feeling faint, dizzy or light-headed
- feeling very hot or very cold
- sweating, trembling or shaking
- pain in your chest or abdomen
- struggling to breathe or feeling like you’re choking
- feeling like your legs are shaky or are turning to jelly
- feeling disconnected from your mind, body or surroundings, which are types of dissociation.
During a panic attack you might feel very afraid that you’re:
- losing control
- going to die.
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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.
Try A Relaxation Exercise
If your body is having an intense response, you want to calm it down, Moore said. She recommended doing so by practicing progressive muscle relaxation, a technique where you choose a group of muscles, tense them and then slowly release them.
For example, squeeze your hands together tightly and then let go, noticing the change between tightness and ease. Working that small group of muscles will not only change your minds focus, but it will help you start to relax the rest of your muscles. Start with one group of muscles and work your way around the body.
Notice the physical change in your body and disrupt the tenseness of the anxiety response, Moore said.
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What Do You Say To Someone Who Is Having A Panic Attack
Here are some useful phrases you can say to someone that is having a panic attack according to healthlinkbc.ca:
You can get through this.I am proud of you.Tell me what you need now.Concentrate on your breathing.Its not the place that is bothering you; its the thought.What you are feeling is scary, but it is not dangerous.
Stay In The Moment To Relieve Anxiety Attacks
Although your gut response might be to leave the;stressful situation;immediately, dont. Let your anxiety level come down, advises;Carmin. Then you can decide if you want to leave or if there’s a way to get back to whatever you were doing when the anxiety attack started. Staying in the moment will help you overcome anxiety, but its hard to do this at first.
Its one of the things I respect the most about people I work with, that they are taking the leap of faith and willing to do the things that terrify them,” Carmin says. “That takes a lot of courage.”
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Listen To Good Mood Music
Music can have a powerful effect on your mood and on anxiety. They key however is to not just choose songs you like. but also make sure that you are listening to music that represents the way you want to feel. Happy or relaxing music can directly impact your mood and the way you feel.
While many people find it soothing to listen to angry music when theyâre angry or sad music when theyâre sad, the truth is that this type of music will only help you get in touch with those negative emotions. That won’t help you feel better. When you’re trying to stop anxiety, you should listen to music that will help you feel the way you want to feel.
Who Gets Panic Attacks
At least 6 million Americans suffer from panic attacks and panic disorder both conditions classified as anxiety disorders. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America , about 2-3% of Americans experience panic disorder in a given year and it is twice as common in women as in men. Panic disorder typically affects individuals when theyre in their 20s but is also seen in young children, adolescents, and older adults.
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Relax Your Body To Ease An Anxiety Attack
It’s easy to say, “Just relax,” right? But once you start to observe your body during an anxiety attack, you might find that certain parts of your body clench up during an attack. Make a deliberate effort to tighten and then relax those parts of your body.
Or, if those parts feel like they wont obey during an anxiety attack, pick a body part that will respond, such as your toes or your shoulders. The more you can;breathe deeply;and relax, the easier it will be to cope.
Strategies For Getting Through A Panic Attack
Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
If you suffer from panic attacks, then you’ve been there before. You experience difficulty breathing, rapid heart rate, muscle tension, and dizziness. These physical sensations are often accompanied by negative and frightening thoughts. You may fear losing control of yourself and quite possibly your sanity.
Despite these overwhelming feelings, there are ways you can regain a sense of control when panic strikes. Below are some simple tips you can use to help ease common symptoms of a panic attack.
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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.
Play A Game With Yourself
You could get your mind off the anxiety attack by playing a quick game. Ask yourself a question that has several answers:
- Name as many states as you can
- Name as many dog breeds as you can
- Name as many cities as you can
- Recite the alphabet backwards
- Practice simple times tables
You may respond better to some questions than others, but the idea is to make yourself think about something other than anxiety. All grounding methods for anxiety attacks are mind over matter, but they do work.
If you need help finding the right grounding technique for you, talk to an anxiety therapist. Sherman Counseling provides affordable anxiety treatment in Wisconsin, and we have several locations for your convenience. Give us a call at 920-733-2065 to learn more.
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What’s Your Job During An Attack
It’s not your job to bring the panic attack to an end; that will happen no matter what you do. Don’t take my word for it. Review your personal history with panic attacks. Have you ever had one that didn’t end?
The fact is, every panic attack ends no matter what you do. If you respond in the most cogent way possible, and do a good job at bringing it in for a soft landing, that panic attack will end. And if you do everything the most unhelpful way possible – struggling and resisting and fleeing in ways that make the panic worse – that one will end also. Even the first panic attack a person has, when they have the least idea of what’s happening, those end as well.
The end of a panic attack is a part of a panic attack, just as much as the start of one is a part of it. It’s not something you need to supply or make happen. The panic attack will end no matter what you do. Even when you don’t believe it will end, when you have the fearful thoughts that it will last forever, it still ends.
So what is your job during a panic attack? It’s a more modest task than you probably supposed. Your job is to see if you can make yourself a little more comfortable while waiting for the attack to end. And if you can’t even make yourself a little more comfortable, then your job is just to wait for it to end.
Here are a few techniques that my patients have found particularly useful while waiting for an attack to end.
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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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.
How To Come Out Of A Panic Attack In Class
Having a panic attack in class is the worse. Youre supposed to be focusing on the lesson thats being taught but instead, youre freaking out in your head. Ive been there and as a teenager, I know the fear of having to run out of a classroom or the fear of being judged by your classmates. So, you sit and you panic harder and longer.
Fortunately, the stigma associated with mental health has changed drastically since I was in school and people are much more understanding and open to anxiety than they once were. At the least, you can tell someone youre having a panic attack in class without them looking at you like you have 5 heads.
But you dont care. All you care about is getting this damn panic attack to stop! I know what thats like. In fact, I can relate so much so that back to school anxiety should have been my middle name. On the bright side, all the panic attacks taught me how to come out of a panic attack in class and thats what Im sharing with you today.
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Panic Disorder With Agoraphobia
Agoraphobia was traditionally thought to involve a fear of public places and open spaces. However, it is now believed that agoraphobia develops as a complication of panic attacks and panic disorder. Although it can develop at any point, agoraphobia usually appears within a year of your first recurrent panic attacks.
If youre agoraphobic, youre afraid of having a panic attack in a situation where escape would be difficult or embarrassing. You may also be afraid of having a panic attack where you wouldnt be able to get help. Because of these fears, you start avoiding more and more situations.
For example, you may begin to avoid:
- Crowded places such as shopping malls or sports arenas.
- Cars, airplanes, subways, and other forms of travel.
- Social gatherings, restaurants, or other situations where it would be embarrassing to have a panic attack.
- Physical exercise in case it triggers panic.
- Certain food or drinks that could provoke panic, such as alcohol, caffeine, sugar, or specific medications.
- Going anywhere without the company of someone who makes you feel safe. In more severe cases, you might only feel safe at home.
How To Direct Your Breath
- Start by breathing slowly and purposely.This will counteract the shallow breathing characterized by most attacks.
- If possible, place your hands on your stomach and fill your belly with breath. When you inhale, you will feel your center rise and expand.
- As you exhale, it will then contract inward. These deliberate breaths will assist in soothing your body and mind.
It may also be helpful to count each breath. Such as counting your first full breath in and out as one, the next breath in and out as two, and so on. This will not only help you breathe better, but it will also help you feel calmer by giving your mind something to focus on.
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