5 Ways to Stop Panic Attacks

If you’ve ever experienced a panic attack, you know firsthand the name is apropos. Within seconds you can go from feeling quite well and “ordinary” to experiencing absolute dread and fear. And often with no obvious trigger. It’s a horrible way to live. At Betterview Counseling, we have many therapists who specialize in teaching coping strategies to manage these unexpected events.

You don't have to allow these panic attacks to run your life! There are quick methods to help relieve some of the symptoms associated with panic attacks. Here are 5 quick ones:

1. Recognize What’s Happening

If, in the moment, you can recognize that you are having a panic attack and not a heart attack, you can begin to instantly calm yourself at the realization this is temporary. This is extremely important. Understanding that you don't have any major physical ailments will help relieve some of the mental stress that is associated with panic attacks. It will pass and you will be okay. And once you gain a little bit of calm, you can employ further techniques. It is difficult to employ these techniques if you don't fully understand what is happening.

2. Deep Breathing

Hyperventilating is a common symptom of a panic attack. Breathing in an erratic pattern tends to make the attack intensify. Also, when you are in a state of hyperventilation, it becomes difficult to slow your heart rate, which may intensify your symptoms.

Conversely, deep breathing can reduce the symptoms of a panic attack and bring you back to a state of calm. Breathing slowly and deeply signals to the rest of your body that the “threat” is gone and you can get out of “fight or flight” mode.

You can deep breathe by using the 4-7-8 technique. This technique is used by breathing in for 4 seconds, holding your breath for 7 seconds, and then slowly exhaling or breathing out for 8 seconds. This technique is also used for those who have difficulty sleeping as well.

3. Close Your Eyes

Some people can become triggered by things in their environment. If this happens to you and you find yourself in a fast-paced environment with too much stimuli becoming overwhelmed, close your eyes while taking some deep, slow, full breaths. Reducing the visual stimuli has an impact on the amount of immediate stress you may have. When this is combined with deep breathing, it can be extremely effective in stopping panic attacks in their tracks.

4. Practice Mindfulness

Panic attacks tend to cause a feeling of detachment or separation from reality. Mindfulness meditation is powerful because it can help you stay fully present in the here and now. In addition, the practice of meditation has been shown to relieve stress and anxiety.

You can practice mindfulness by immediately observing your surroundings with all of your senses. What do you notice in your immediate environment? What does it smell like? What is the texture of the chair your are sitting on? Doing such an exercise eliminates the "fear of the future" and slows you down to the current moment. This helps with reversing the effects of acute panic attacks.

5. Get Help

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other mental health treatments have been shown to help people suffering with panic attacks. CBT sessions can happen in private, in groups, and even online.

If you are interested in exploring treatment options, please schedule an appointment with Betterview's highly qualified therapists. You can schedule a consult or you can schedule a complete session online. We are waiting for you!