How to Stop a Panic Attack Fast
Despite how overwhelming and distressing they can be, there are effective ways to manage and even stop panic attacks. You can regain control and find relief by investigating the root causes and employing helpful strategies. Ten tried-and-true methods for putting an end to panic attacks are discussed below.
Take back control of your life from panic attacks with the help of techniques ranging from deep breathing and grounding exercises to cognitive restructuring and professional support. If you take the right steps, you can learn to control your panic attacks and improve your overall mental health.
Top 10 How to Stop a Panic Attack Fast Tips That Work
1. Consult a therapist.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and various counseling approaches have shown promise in helping individuals with panic attacks and disorders. CBT aims to shift your perception of challenging situations, empowering you to approach them in new and constructive ways. CBT can be offered individually or in group settings, both online and face-to-face, with varying treatment durations. Exposure-based CBT exposes you to triggers and supports you in navigating through them. Additionally, CBT may impact the brain structures responsible for panic symptoms, as evidenced by preliminary studies. Mindfulness-based programs have also demonstrated potential for symptom reduction as participants learned to manage their thought processes. However, further research is necessary to evaluate these short-term therapeutic approaches’ effectiveness fully.
Benzodiazepines, like alprazolam (Xanax), are sometimes prescribed to treat panic attacks. However, they don’t treat the anxiety disorder that causes panic attacks and can cause dependence. So, doctors usually only recommend using it briefly during emergencies. Since benzodiazepines need a prescription, a diagnosis of panic disorder is often needed to get them. In some cases, doctors may recommend long-term use of antidepressants like escitalopram (Lexapro) or fluoxetine (Prozac), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) like duloxetine (Cymbalta), or anti-anxiety drugs like azapirone (Buspirone). Some medicines used to treat seizures, like pregabalin or clonazepam, have also been shown to help treat anxiety.
3. Deep Breathing.
Breathing techniques for panic attacks can effectively reduce symptoms by countering hyperventilation and promoting relaxation. In a study published in 2017, participants who underwent intensive deep breathing training experienced improved attention levels, emotional well-being, and lower cortisol levels, indicating reduced stress. Slow breathing has also shown similar benefits, including enhanced relaxation, comfort, alertness, and a decrease in symptoms of anxiety, depression, anger, and confusion. By consciously controlling your breath, you can prevent hyperventilation and mitigate the worsening of panic attack symptoms.
Take a slow, deep breath through your nose, allowing your chest and belly to expand, then exhale slowly through your mouth. Practice inhaling for a count of four, holding briefly, and exhaling through your nose for another count of four.
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4. Apply Mindfulness.
Mindfulness practices can provide grounding and help combat the detachment often associated with panic attacks. By focusing your attention on the present moment and acknowledging your emotional state, mindfulness can be a valuable tool during the onset or occurrence of a panic attack. Activities such as meditation and stress-reducing techniques promote relaxation and enhance self-awareness. To anchor yourself in reality, pay attention to familiar physical sensations, like the sensation of your feet firmly planted on the ground or the texture of your clothing against your skin.
Experts have recognized mindfulness as an effective strategy for managing anxiety symptoms, offering stress reduction benefits comparable to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other behavioral therapies. In some cases, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy has shown potential for individuals with anxiety disorders who have not found medication-based treatments helpful.
5. Muscles Relaxation.
Muscle relaxation techniques can effectively alleviate muscle tension, a common symptom of anxiety, and promote overall relaxation during a panic attack. Progressive muscle relaxation is a method that aims to release tension in different muscle groups sequentially, resulting in overall body relaxation.
Like deep breathing, muscle relaxation techniques allow you to control your body’s response, interrupting the progress of a panic attack. In muscle relaxation therapy, your therapist may guide you through several steps. These may include learning to deliberately tense and release muscles, mastering relaxation without prior tension, focusing on specific muscle sets like the shoulders for practical application in daily situations, and practicing rapid relaxation to identify and release tension promptly.
To initiate muscle relaxation at home, consciously relax one muscle at a time, beginning with simple areas like the fingers and gradually progressing throughout your body. Consistent practice of muscle relaxation techniques enhances their effectiveness when needed during a panic attack.
6. Create a mental image of your ideal environment.
Anxiety and stress can be effectively treated with the help of guided imagery techniques. Research has shown that spending time in nature or visualizing natural settings can help treat and manage anxiety.
Think of the quietest, most peaceful place you can think of. Is it a sandy beach with warm sunshine and soothing waves? Alternatively, how about a rustic lodge up in the mountains?
Imagine being in this peaceful environment, paying close attention to the smallest details. Try the soothing breeze of pine trees or the warm sand between your toes.
Choosing a place that exudes tranquility is essential, free from the bustling streets of busy cities like New York or Hong Kong, regardless of how much you adore them. Allow your thoughts to bring peace and tranquility as you enjoy the ambiance.
7. Find an object to focus on.
Focusing on a single object can help you stay in charge during a panic attack. Choose something you can see right now and pay close attention to the details of it.
Say you pick a clock from the wall. Notice how the second-hand moves in a jerky way with each tick, and maybe you’ll also notice that the clock is a little bit off-center. Tell yourself in your head what the object looks like in terms of patterns, colors, shapes, and size. Focus all your energy and attention on looking closely at your chosen object. As you pay close attention to the object’s details, you may find that your panic attacks start to get better.
With this technique, you can take your mind off the overwhelming feelings of a panic attack and put it on a specific, real-world point to focus on. By focusing on the present moment and paying close attention to it, you create a space where your anxiety can go away, and you can feel calm and in control again.
8. Closing your Eyes.
People often have panic attacks when too many things are happening around them. When this happens, closing your eyes can be a simple but effective way to reduce the amount of information coming in and help you focus on your breathing, which will stop your panic attack.
By closing your eyes, you make a shield that effectively blocks out other things around you. With less visual information from the outside, you can turn inward and focus on your breath and other internal sensations. When you close your eyes, you can find a quiet place inside yourself, away from the outside world’s noise.
Take a deep breath in and let it out slowly. Feel the rhythm of your breath as it brings you back to the present moment. Imagine that each breath flows in and out, calming and balancing your body and mind as it does so. Accept the darkness behind your closed eyelids as a refuge, a place of peace that protects you from the overwhelming things around you.
Remember that closing your eyes is a good way to calm yourself, which can help you get back in charge of your panic attack. Use this method to find peace in the middle of a storm. It will give you the space and focus to get through the moment’s intensity.
9. Think of and repeat an inner mantra.
Amid a panic attack, repeating a mantra internally can serve as a source of comfort, providing a sense of grounding and reassurance. It offers a tangible focal point to hold onto during moments of distress.
Choose a mantra that resonates with you, one that embodies strength, resilience, or a calming message. It can be as simple as “This too shall pass” or any phrase that speaks directly to your experience and offers solace.
Repeat your chosen mantra silently in your mind, allowing its words to flow continuously. Feel the rhythm of the mantra synchronize with your breath, creating a harmonious cadence that soothes your racing thoughts. As you immerse yourself in the repetition, visualize the mantra’s meaning permeating every cell of your being, instilling a sense of calm and stability.
Repeating a mantra internally is a powerful anchor during a panic attack, redirecting your focus from the overwhelming sensations to a more serene mental space. It reminds you that the intensity you’re experiencing is temporary and you possess the inner strength to navigate through it. Embrace the healing power of your mantra as a guiding light, gently leading you toward a place of tranquility and inner peace.
10. Do some low-impact exercises.
Extensive studies have shown that regular exercise positively affects physical and mental health. In addition to the obvious benefits to physical health, regular exercise has been shown to affect psychological well-being significantly.
In several studies, exercising between 60 and 90 percent of your maximum heart rate for 20 minutes three times a week has effectively reduced anxiety symptoms. However, you should consult your doctor before beginning any exercise regimen if you are new to exercise or already suffering from an anxiety disorder. When beginning an aerobic exercise program, individuals with anxiety disorders may experience increased anxiety. You can reduce the risk of breathlessness during exercise by gradually increasing the intensity of your workouts. Aerobic exercises include any physical activity that causes your heart rate to increase, such as running on a treadmill.
When working out, paying attention to how your body feels is crucial. If you’re hyperventilating or having trouble breathing because of stress, give yourself a break. Alternatively, you could do a gentler exercise like walking, swimming, or yoga. These pursuits offer a less intense method of physical fitness that can still improve health and well-being.
Respecting your body’s limits during exercise is key to reaping the full benefits of physical activity for improving your health and happiness.
Anxiety and Stress Fact Sheet
Anxiety Disorders Overview
Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health conditions characterized by excessive and persistent feelings of fear, worry, and anxiety. They can significantly impact a person’s thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and physical well-being.
Behavioral: Hypervigilance, irritability, or restlessness.
Cognitive: Lack of concentration, racing thoughts, or unwanted thoughts.
Whole body: Fatigue or sweating.
Also common: Anxiety, excessive worry, fear, insomnia, nausea, palpitations, or trembling.
Stress is a natural physiological and psychological response to demands or pressures placed on an individual. It is a normal part of life and can serve as a motivator in certain situations. However, when stress becomes excessive or chronic, it can negatively affect physical and mental well-being.
Causes of Stress:
- Work-related stress: Heavy workloads, tight deadlines, conflicts with colleagues, or job insecurity can contribute to stress.
- Personal life stressors: Relationship issues, financial difficulties, major life changes (such as moving or divorce), or the loss of a loved one can be significant stressors.
- Environmental stressors: Factors like noise, pollution, overcrowding, or exposure to extreme weather conditions can contribute to stress.
- Traumatic events: Experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, such as accidents, natural disasters, or violence, can lead to stress.
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Panic Attack Statistics
Millions of people worldwide are affected by panic attacks in a big way. Panic disorder is about twice as likely to happen to women as it is to men. Most people start having panic attacks when they are young adults. The average age of onset is between the late teens and the mid-30s. Symptoms of these episodes include sudden, intense fear, trouble breathing, a lot of sweating, trembling, a fast heartbeat, chest pain, and feeling disconnected from reality or oneself.
Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health conditions worldwide, affecting a significant portion of the population. An estimated 264 million people globally were living with anxiety disorders in 2017.
Both sexes can suffer from panic attacks, but females are twice as likely to have them as males.
In many people, anxiety and depression coexist. Research shows that about half of those who suffer from panic disorder also have signs of depression.
Source: Journal of Clinical Psychiatry
What is a Panic Attack?
Panic attacks are sudden, intense bouts of fear, panic, or anxiety that can be very upsetting. They can cause many physical and emotional symptoms that can be very painful and hard to deal with. Here are some of the most common signs of a panic attack:
- Having trouble breathing: Many people say they feel short of breath or breathe quickly and shallowly during a panic attack. This feeling can make you feel even more scared and worried.
- Profuse Sweating and Trembling: People who are having a panic attack often sweat a lot and shake. People often feel their palms getting sweaty or their whole body shaking out of control.
- Rapid Heartbeat: A fast, pounding heartbeat is one of the most common signs of a panic attack. It can feel like the heart is racing or pounding out of control, worsening fear and panic.
- Chest Pain: Some individuals may experience chest pain or discomfort during a panic attack. This symptom can make you feel like you’re having a heart attack, making you feel more anxious and upset.
- The feeling of Detachment or Unreality: During a panic attack, some people may feel like they aren’t connected to themselves or reality. It can feel like they are watching themselves from outside their bodies or that the world around them is not real or is distorted.
- Sensations of a Stroke: Panic attacks can sometimes feel like a stroke, with symptoms like tingling or numbness in the limbs, weakness on one side of the body, or trouble speaking. But it’s important to remember that these symptoms are usually short-lived and go away quickly.
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How to Stop a Panic Attack Before it Happens
Even though you can’t always stop a panic attack, there are things you can do to make them less common and less severe. Breathing exercises and regular exercise can help you feel more relaxed and improve your overall health. Eating regular meals and eating a balanced diet low in added sugars can help keep your blood sugar levels steady and avoid possible triggers. Because they can make anxiety worse, caffeine, cigarettes, and alcohol should be limited or avoided.
Counseling, professional help, and asking about local support groups can all be helpful ways to get advice and help. In some cases, it may be helpful to slowly face triggers with the help of a professional to learn how to deal with them. How each person handles panic attacks may differ, so it’s best to get personalized strategies and advice from health professionals.
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When to see a Doctor
If you have frequent or severe panic attacks, you should see a doctor because they can greatly affect your quality of life. Here are a few signs that you should see a doctor:
- If you have panic attacks often or they are getting worse, you should see a doctor. They can look at your symptoms, give you an accurate diagnosis, and suggest the best way to treat you.
- Interfering with Your Daily Life: If your panic attacks are getting in the way of your work, relationships, or social activities, you need to see a doctor. A healthcare professional can help you figure out ways to deal with and lessen the effects of panic attacks.
- Physical Symptoms: If you have severe physical symptoms like chest pain, trouble breathing, or dizziness during a panic attack, you should see a doctor right away to rule out any underlying medical conditions. They can look at your symptoms and tell you how to improve.
- Co-Occurring Mental Health Conditions: If you have panic attacks and other mental health problems, like depression or anxiety disorders, you should see a doctor. A doctor can give you a full assessment and treatment options for your mental health problems.
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Popular How to Stop a Panic Attack FAQs
What are some coping skills for panic attacks?
Deep breathing, grounding techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, mindfulness, self-care, cognitive restructuring, social support, and professional help are all ways to deal with panic attacks. These strategies can help you deal with your symptoms, relax, challenge negative thoughts, and feel supported and understood.
Grounding techniques for panic attacks?
Grounding techniques can help you deal with panic attacks by returning your attention to the present and immediate surroundings. Here are some ways to get your feet on the ground:
5-4-3-2-1 Find and name five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This helps you use your senses and pay attention to what’s happening.
Breathing Exercises: Pay attention to your breath and breathe deeply. Pay attention to the feeling of air going in and out of your body. This will help you stay in the present.
Physical Sensations: Pay attention to how your body feels. Move your toes, stretch your arms and legs, or touch things around you. This takes your mind off the things that are making you anxious.
Grounding Objects: Carry a small, smooth stone or a worry bead. When you’re feeling anxious, hold the object and focus on its feel, weight, and shape. This will help you keep your mind on one thing.
Counting in your head: Practice counting in your head. For example, you could count backward from 100 in groups of three or count things around you that are a certain color. This helps you change the way you think and helps you concentrate.
We Level Up Washington Panic Attacks Treatment Programs
Are you struggling with panic attacks? While medication can be helpful, therapy is often a key part of treatment. Here are some commonly used types of therapy:
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This approach helps individuals recognize and challenge negative thought patterns and behaviors contributing to panic attacks. Therapy for severe panic attacks can include:
- Exposure Therapy: Gradually facing the situations and triggers that cause panic attacks can help reduce fear and anxiety responses.
- Mindfulness-Based Therapy: Techniques like meditation and deep breathing exercises can help manage symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks.
- Relaxation Techniques: Practicing techniques such as deep breathing and visualization can help reduce overall stress levels.
- Support Groups: Joining a group of others experiencing panic attacks can provide a sense of community and coping strategies.
Different approaches work for different people, so it’s important to have access to various therapy options. Don’t let panic attacks control your life – get help today at the We Level Up mental health treatment center network.
Tips for Maintaining Your Mental Well-being Informative Video
8 Steps for Mental Wellbeing & How To Improve Mental Health In The Workplace
- Staying Positive
- Practicing Gratitude
- Taking Care of Your Physical Health
- Connecting With Others
- Developing a Sense of Meaning and Purpose in Life
- Developing Coping Skills
- Relaxation Techniques
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