5 ways to stop a panic attack, as these can create various physical and emotional symptoms.
Physical symptoms of a Panic Attack
- rapid breathing
- a racing heartbeat
Emotional symptoms may include:
- feelings of fear and anxiety
- intense, repetitive worrying
- a feeling of impending doom
Here are 5 methods that people can use to help regain control and reduce the symptoms of a panic attack.
1. Remember that it will pass
During a panic attack, it can help to remember that these feelings will pass and cause no physical harm, however scary it feels at the time.
Try acknowledging that this is a brief period of concentrated anxiety, and that it will be over soon.
Panic attacks tend to reach their most intense point within 10 minutes of their onset, and then the symptoms will begin to subside.
2. Take deep breaths
Deep breathing can help bring a panic attack under control.
Panic attacks can cause rapid breathing, and chest tightness can make the breaths shallow. This type of breathing can make feelings of anxiety and tension worse.
Instead, try to breathe slowly and deeply, concentrating on each breath. Breathe deeply from the abdomen, filling the lungs slowly and steadily while counting to 4 on both the inhale and the exhale.
People can also try using 4-7-8 breathing, or “relaxing breath.” With this technique, the person breathes in for 4 seconds, holds the breath for 7 seconds, then exhales slowly for 8 seconds.
It is worth noting that for some people, deep breathing can make panic attacks worse. In these cases, the person can try focusing on doing something they enjoy instead.
3. The 5-4-3-2-1 method
Panic attacks can make a person feel detached from reality. This is because the intensity of the anxiety can overtake other senses.
The 5-4-3-2-1 method is a type of grounding technique and a type of mindfulness. It helps direct the person’s focus away from sources of stress.
To use this method, the person should complete each of the following steps slowly and thoroughly:
Look at 5 separate objects. Think about each one for a short while.
Listen for 4 distinct sounds. Think about where they came from and what sets them apart.
Touch 3 objects. Consider their texture, temperature, and what their uses are.
Identify 2 different smells. This could be the smell of your coffee, your soap, or the laundry detergent on your clothes.
Name 1 thing you can taste. Notice whatever taste is in your mouth, or try tasting a piece of candy.
4. Picture your happy place
A person’s happy place should be somewhere they would feel most relaxed. The specific place will be different for everybody. It will be somewhere they feel relaxed, safe, and calm.
When an attack begins, it can help to close the eyes and imagine being in this place. Think of how calm it is there. People can also imagine their bare feet touching the cool soil, hot sand, or soft rugs.
5. Take any prescribed medications
Depending on the severity of panic attacks, a doctor may prescribe a use-as-needed medication. These medications typically work fast.
Some contain a benzodiazepine or a beta-blocker. Propranolol is a beta-blocker that slows a racing heartbeat and decreases blood pressure.
Benzodiazepines that doctors commonly prescribe for panic attacks include Valium and Xanax.
However, these drugs can behighly addictive, so people should use them exactly as their doctor prescribes. Taken with opioids or alcohol, they can have life threatening adverse effects.
A doctor may also describe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which can help prevent panic attacks from occurring in the first place.
1. Tell someone
If panic attacks frequently occur in the same environment, such as a workplace or social space, it may be helpful to inform somebody and to let them know what kind of support they can offer if it happens again.
If an attack happens in public, telling another person can help. They may be able to locate a quiet spot and prevent others from crowding in.
2. Learn your triggers
A person’s panic attacks may often be triggered by the same things, such as enclosed spaces, crowds, or problems with money.
By learning to manage or avoid their triggers, people may be able to reduce the frequency and intensity of panic attacks.