What To Do When You Are Having A Panic Attack
If you struggle with panic attacks, we have outlined strategies that you can use which can help you in the moment:
Remind yourself what is happening
Safely stop what you are doing so that you can focus on what you are thinking.
Tell yourself that your mind and body are just choosing to react intensely to your thoughts when they dont need to. It isnt a heart attack and youre not going to collapse or die.
Control your breathing
Your breathing may quicken during a panic attack. The hyperventilation you experience can cause you to become even more frightened as you worry about not being able to breathe. Focus on breathing slowly, deeply and as gently as possible.
Breathe in through the nose for three seconds, hold the breath for two seconds and breathe out through the mouth for three seconds.
You may want to close your eyes to help you focus. By doing this, you can calm your breathing, reduce your physical panic attack symptoms, and stop the panic cycle.
Remind yourself that this panic attack will pass
Statements like panic is just a high level of anxiety and my panic will pass naturally given time and wont last forever can help you recognise that this is just a moment – you arent controlled by panic attacks and this will eventually go away.
Practise mindfulness and re-focus
Recover With A Bathroom Break
If youre in high school, you may require a hall pass to leave the room, so this will work better after youve talked to your teacher about your anxiety.
If youre in college, you probably have the luxury of coming and going as you please, but it doesnt hurt for the professor to know whats up.
A huge reason many people get panic attacks in class is due to the feeling that theyre trapped in a situation where they might embarrass themselves .
During a panic attack, every fiber of your being is screaming for you to hit the eject button and escape your current environment. In the classroom, this can be difficult.
If you feel a panic attack coming on, take a bathroom break.
This will give you some time to yourself while you get things back under control.
Go the long route and clear your head. Do some pushups or jumping jacks in the bathroom . Splash some water on your face. Text a friend or watch a funny video on your phone.
Take a few minutes to do whatever it is youve got to do to calm down.
Return to class when you feel comfortable doing so.
Can Anxiety Be Cured
Since anxiety is so specific to a persons body and genetic makeup, this is a hard question to answer because it really depends on how you approach it and what outlying variables youre up against. I feel that people can manage anxiety to a point where they are living the life they want. I dont believe there is a cure per se some people only experience anxiety during certain points in their lives and others are genetically wired, which could be for life. I strongly believe in strengthening the mind and body in order to live a balanced life.
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What To Do When Someone Else Is Having A Panic Attack
This section will provide some tips on how to help a person having a panic attack.
First, try talking them through a few of the methods above. For instance, help them find a peaceful spot, encourage them to take slow, deep breaths, and ask them to focus on a nearby object.
If you do not know the person, introduce yourself and ask them if they need help. Ask them if they have had a panic attack before, and if so, what helps them regain control.
People can also try the following tips when someone else is having a panic attack:
- Try to remain calm. This will help them relax a little more.
- Suggest moving to a quiet spot nearby and help them find one. Sitting down in a comfortable place can be very effective, as it allows them to focus on their breathing.
- Remind the person that panic attacks always end.
- Stay positive and nonjudgmental. Avoid validating any negative statements.
- Try having a gentle, friendly conversation to distract them and help them feel safe.
- Avoid telling them to calm down or telling them that there is nothing to worry about, as this devalues their emotions.
- Stay with them. If they feel that they need to be alone, make sure they remain visible.
What Causes Anxiety Disorders
We dont fully understand what causes anxiety disorders. But it is thought that the following factors can cause anxiety.
Genetics. Some people seem to be born more anxious than others. You may get anxiety through your genes.
Life experience. This could be bad experiences such as being abused or losing a loved one. It could also include big changes in life such as moving home, losing your job or pregnancy.
Drugs. Caffeine in coffee and alcohol can make you feel anxious. Illegal drugs, also known as street drugs can also have an effect.
Circumstances. Sometimes you know what is causing your anxiety. When the problem goes, so does your anxiety.
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Dos And Donts When Someone Is Having An Anxiety Attack
Do not ask them to calm down but do listen to them with empathy.
Since the start of pandemic, there has been an exponential rise in people experiencing mental health challenges across the world. According to a study, there were 375,000 Google searches for anxiety between March and May of last year alone. This is because for many, this is the first time theyre confronted with challenges like anxiety and depression, and dont know what to do when they or someone close to them is experiencing it.
An anxiety attack can be a very scary experience and handling it correctly can go a long way in calming the person down. With the help of Panneer, Re:Set has put together a list of dos and donts to help calm someone having an anxiety attack.
Panic Attacks I Turned My Mental Health Crisis Into A Mental Health Triumph
Although it’s taken me a long time I have learned I am a strong person who has the potential to help others.
You might find that you become scared of going out alone or to public places because you’re worried about having another panic attack. If this fear becomes very intense, it may be called agoraphobia. See our pages on types of phobia for more information.
I felt like I couldn’t breathe, I just wanted to get out, to go somewhere else, but I couldn’t because I was on a train.
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How To End An Anxiety Or Panic Attack
An anxiety attack can be terrifying, but it wont kill you. If you want to overcome it, take a deep breath and know it will end soon.
“Anxiety” is a general term that describes a variety of experiences, including nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worry, that are common in several mental health disorders. While most of us have anxiety at some time, this is completely different from an anxiety attack or anxiety disorder. Normal feelings of nervousness, worry, and fear often have a known trigger . But when you’re having a full blown panic attack or anxiety attack, the symptoms chest pain, flushing skin, racing heart, and difficulty breathing can make you feel as though you’re going to faint, lose your mind, or die. The reality is, you wont. The key to surviving is to learn all you can about anxiety attacks and practice the skills you need to get through them.
According to the Mayo Clinic, signs of an anxiety attack include:
- Abdominal cramping
- Fear of loss of control or death
- Feeling of unreality or detachment
- Shortness of breath or tightness in your throat
- Trembling or shaking
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America offers practical strategies in how to deal with stress and anxiety attacks, including:
- Accept that you cannot control everything.
- Do your best.
- Maintain a positive attitude.
- Learn what triggers your anxiety.
Here’s how to stop an anxiety attack and recover.
How Can Breathing Help With Anxiety
Breathing is the first remedy to use in your anxiety toolkit. Anxiety sufferers tend to be shallow breathers, which means they are cutting off the air supply to their brains, as well as creating problems for their digestive track.
I use a method I call 15 Count to Calm, whereby you breathe in, pushing your diaphragm out for a five count, then hold in your air for a five count, then exhale for the last five count. I find that the hold of the five count is what helps best when anxiety comes on strong, since youre trying to break the cycle and get grounded within yourself.
Anxiety is such a misunderstood mental illness. Its hard for people who dont suffer from it to understand its effects on the person experiencing it.
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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.
S For Getting Through A Panic Attack
“It feels like I’m dying.” Those are the words people use to describe what a panic attack feels like. The process of addressing and managing them is a journey there’s no immediate cure or course of action that will stop a panic attack in its tracks.
It takes time, patience and dedication to identify your unique triggers. However, there are steps that serve as preemptive measures to help shorten the duration of a panic attack when it is occurring, and reduce the frequency and severity of your anxiety in the long term.
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Phobias And Irrational Fears
A phobia is an unrealistic or exaggerated fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that in reality presents little to no danger. Common phobias include fear of animals , fear of flying, and fear of needles. In the case of a severe phobia, you might go to extreme lengths to avoid the object of your fear. Unfortunately, avoidance only strengthens the phobia.
What Can I Do To Manage My Symptoms
You can learn to manage your symptoms by looking after yourself. Selfcare is how you take care of your diet, sleep, exercise, daily routine, relationships and how you are feeling.
Making small lifestyle changes can improve your wellbeing and can help your recovery.
Routine helps many people with their mental wellbeing. It will help to give a structure to your day and may give you a sense of purpose. This could be a simple routine such as eating at the same time each day, going to bed at the same time each day and buying food once per week.
Breathing exercises can help to calm you when you are feeling anxious. Or having a panic attack. You will get the most benefit if you do them regularly, as part of your daily routine.
There is more information about breathing exercises in the further reading section at the bottom of this page.
You could join a support group. A support group is where people come together to share information, experiences and give each other support.
You might be able to find a local group by searching online.
Rethink Mental Illness have support groups in some areas. You can find out what is available in your area if you follow this link:
Or you can call the Rethink Mental Illness Advice Service on 0300 5000 927 for more information.
You can find more information about Recovery by clicking here.
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What Are The Differences
Here are some of the features that distinguish them.
An anxiety attack, or anxiety:
- can have a specific trigger, such as an exam, workplace issues, a health issue, or a relationship problem
- is not a diagnosable condition
- is less severe than a panic attack
- usually develops gradually when a person feels anxious
- involves physical symptoms, such as a racing heart or knot in the stomach
A panic attack:
- often occurs suddenly and unexpectedly and last between a few minutes and an hour, although the negative impact may continue
The term anxiety attack is not listed in the American Psychological Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5th Edition .
Ground Yourself And Then Write A Quick Note
This takes practice, but when your anxiety begins taking over, experts say being present and reasonable can help shorten the duration.
When I get in the middle of my what-if snowball, at some point I’m able to back off, says Elaine, a 32-year-old mother in Indiana, who has been diagnosed with panic disorder. I sometimes have to actually tell myself to stop out loud. I’ve said, Stop, Elaine. That’s ridiculous. When I take a second to really evaluate whether or not what I’m thinking is reasonable, I am able to recognize it’s not and just move on.
In cases where she cannot recognize whether her thoughts or anxiety is normal, she physically writes down a note and discusses it with her therapist.
Studies show that people who wrote about emotionally charged episodes were happier, less depressed and less anxious.
Which science says is a smart move. Writing down your fears can actually help reduce them, and ease the anxiety that accompanies them. One study found that writing thoughts down and physically throwing them in the garbage can be an effective way to clear your mind.
So keep a notebook and pen in your car, by your bedside, and in your purse for when anxious thoughts begin to creep up.
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What Kind Of Anxiety Disorder Do You Have
As with every health issue, an accurate diagnosis is essential. A few common anxiety disorders include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder: A pattern of excessive worry about a variety of issues on most days for at least six months, often accompanied by physical symptoms, such as muscle tension, a hammering heart, or dizziness.
- Social anxiety disorder: Feeling significant anxiety in social situations or when called on to perform in front of others, such as in public speaking.
- Phobias: A particular animal, insect, object, or situation causes substantial anxiety.
- Panic disorder: Panic attacks are sudden, intense episodes of heart-banging fear, breathlessness, and dread. Its the feeling youd have if you just missed being hit by a Mack truck but for people with panic disorder there is no Mack truck, says Dr. Beresin.
Learn To Recognize The Signs Of Anxiety
Anxiety disorder is the most common mental health condition in the United States, affecting up to 18% of the population. Knowing the signs of anxiety can help you realize when someone you love is having fearful thoughts or feelings. Symptoms vary from person to person but can be broken into three categories:
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How To Calm Down After A Panic Attack
The moments that follow a panic attack can be the worst. You feel exhausted, defeated, and for lack of better words, like a #%$@ed up human being. So, remember this one simple rule be reflective, not reactive. John Tsilimparis, director of the Anxiety and Panic Disorder Center of Los Angeles suggests writing down the negative thoughts you had during your panic attack, such as Im doing to die, Im going to throw up, and all the what ifs we can all relate to. Then, write down the rational alternative, such as youre not going to die, if youre sick people will be compassionate, etc. This redirects your thought process from thinking youre suffering from an attack to youre reflecting on your attack.
How Can You Help Or Support A Family Member Or Friend With Anxiety
Just ask what they need, when they may be anxious or having a panic attack, and when they arent in that state yet. Anxiety is such a misunderstood mental illness and terms get used incorrectly all the time. Its hard for people who dont suffer from it to understand its effects on the person experiencing it.
The best advice I can give to those who are anxiety sufferers is to be open and honest with the ones you love so they can understand you better. Once you figure out what works for you during these moments, share that with the people closest to you.
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Causes Of Anxiety Fear And Panic
There are many different causes of anxiety, fear or panic and it’s different for everyone.
When you’re feeling anxious or scared, your body releases stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol.
This can be helpful in some situations, but it might also cause physical symptoms such as an increased heart rate and increased sweating. In some people, it might cause a panic attack.
Regular anxiety, fear or panic can also be the main symptom of several health conditions. Do not self-diagnose speak to a GP if you’re worried about how you’re feeling.