If you are suffering panic attacks, you are not alone! At least 5% of the population have experienced panic attacks. There may be many more people who never tell anyone about their attacks. This blog is sharing some good news! You can learn what to do during a panic attack and how to stop them. Psychologists know of lots of strategies you can use to help deal with panic attacks so that they don’t control you.
It is important to realise that anxiety is normal and helps prepare us for danger. In moderation, it even improves our efficiency in performing a skilled activity. Therefore, our goal is not to get rid of all anxiety. However, anxiety can be a problem in our lives when our brain and body tells us there is danger when there is no real threat. We can come to experience intense and frequent anxiety, fear anxiety symptoms and many situations and avoid doing important daily life activities e.g. going shopping, catching public transport, working etc.
If you are breathing too quickly you change the levels of gases in your bloodstream and your carbon dioxide levels drop too low setting off a chemical chain reaction. This changes the blood flow around your body and can make you feel dizzy, light-headed, nauseous, make your chest feel tight, sensations of pins and needles, or feeling like you can’t breathe.
Practice slow breathing often, including practicing when you are relaxed so that you are more likely to be able to use it when your anxiety is intense.
Until you get use to riding out your panic attacks you may find it helpful to write on a small card, that you can keep handy in your wallet to use at any time, some helpful thoughts and facts about panic attacks such as:
“It will pass quickly”
“It isn’t dangerous”
“This is a panic attack”
“This is my body’s fight or flight response but it is a false alarm”
“There is no physical danger, I will be alright”
11. Make relaxation a part of your daily life with strategies such as: progressive muscle relaxation techniques where you contract and release each muscle group moving from head to toe, yoga, doing the things you enjoy, having a warm bath, listening to music, etc. Create your own menu of relaxation strategies.
12.Regularly practice your breathing exercises, helpful self-talk, grounding and relaxation strategies so that you are more likely to use these helpers when trying out what to do during a panic attack.
13. Have healthy lifestyle habits:
14. Problem solving: Consider whether you can make changes for any of the stressors in your daily life such as at work or in your relationships. Are there any life problems you need to deal with?
15. Learning mindfulness skills can help you to separate from your thoughts, open up to your feelings and make values guided choices in your daily life.
This blog offers some tips about what to do during a panic attack. If you are suffering panic attacks this does not mean that you have a psychological disorder. These tips may be enough for you to cope with your panic attacks. However, panic attacks can occur in the context of psychological disorders such as anxiety disorders (e.g. Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia), depressive disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, substance use disorders and also in some medical conditions. It can be helpful to discuss your panic attacks with your Doctor who can complete relevant medical and psychological assessments and refer you for psychological therapy if required.
Overall, remember to reward and encourage yourself for your effort in dealing with your panic. It can be very challenging and being kind and compassionate toward yourself can really help.
For even more tips on how to manage panic attacks, we have prepared a free guide 10 Tips for Managing Panic Attacks that you can download and keep.