How Can You Stop a Panic Attack?

Posted by on April 21, 2018 in Hazards, Issues & Diseases, Health with 0 Comments

 

By | Medical News Today

Panic attacks can be sudden and overpowering. They can affect anyone and may be caused by general anxiety, panic disorder, or depression.

Physical and emotional symptoms can occur during an attack, often at the same time. Physical symptoms include sweating, rapid breathing, nausea, and a racing heartbeat. Emotional symptoms include feelings of fear and intense, repetitive worrying.

In this article, we look at ways to stop panic attacks and reduce the risk of their occurrence. We also look at how to help someone having an attack and describe the outlook for the future.


Ways to stop a panic attack

Below are 13 methods that can help to alleviate the symptoms of a panic attack.

1. Acceptance and recognition

A person may have experienced panic attacks in the past. During an attack, it can help to remember that they pass and cause no physical harm, though they are unpleasant. A person should acknowledge that the attack is a brief period of concentrated anxiety and that it will end.

If a person is experiencing an attack for the first time, it is advisable to visit a doctor as soon as possible. Some symptoms of panic attacks can indicate other events, such as heart attacks or strokes.

2. Deep breathing


Deep breathing can sometimes bring a panic attack under control. Rapid breathing can increase anxiety and tension, so instead taking long, slow breaths can help.

A person should breathe steadily, counting slowly to four while breathing in and to four when breathing out.

A feeling of tightness in the chest can cause a person to take short breaths during an attack. It is a good idea to breathe deeply from the abdomen, filling the lungs slowly and steadily.

3. Inhale lavender

Lavender essences have long been used to relieve anxiety and bring about a sense of calm relaxation. Inhaling the scent of lavender oil during a panic attack may help relieve some symptoms. A person can rub a small amount of oil onto their wrist or hand and inhale.

This oil is widely available online. Purchase it only from trusted retailers.

An individual should avoid lavender if they have recently taken a benzodiazepine medication. The two together can cause heightened drowsiness.

4. Medication

When a doctor prescribes a medication for use as needed, rather than as a regular dosage, the medicine is referred to as a PRN. These medications typically work fast.

Depending on the severity of panic attacks, a doctor may prescribe a PRN containing a benzodiazepine or a beta-blocker. Propranolol is a beta-blocker that slows a racing heartbeat and decreases blood pressure.

Benzodiazepines commonly prescribed for panic attacks include Valium and Xanax. This class of drugs can be highly addictive. The body may quickly develop a tolerance, and a higher dosage will soon be needed to achieve the same effect. People should use them sparingly.

5. Limit stimuli

Sights and sounds can often intensify a panic attack. If possible, find a more peaceful spot. This could mean leaving a busy room or moving to lean against a nearby wall.

Closing the eyes can make it easier to focus on breathing and other coping strategies.

6. Learn 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 triggers, a person may be able to reduce the frequency and intensity of attacks.

7. Light exercise

Light exercise can help to stop panic attacks. Exercise releases hormones called endorphins that relax the body and improve the mood.

Walking can help to produce endorphins, and it can also remove a person from a stressful environment. The rhythm of walking may also help a person to regulate their breathing.

8. Mindfulness exercises

Panic attacks can make people feel detached from reality. The intensity of anxiety can overtake other senses. Mindfulness can help to re-ground a person and direct their focus away from sources of stress.

Below is one example of a mindfulness exercise. Each step should be completed slowly and thoroughly:

  • Look at five separate things, thinking about each for some time.
  • Listen for four distinct sounds, and examine what is different about each one.
  • Touch three objects. Consider the texture, temperature, and uses.
  • Identify two different smells. Do they trigger any memories?
  • Taste something. This could be a fingertip or a piece of candy.

9. Focus on an object

Concentrating on a nearby object can help a person stop a panic attack. A person who experiences attacks regularly may want to carry something for this purpose.

Focusing on one thing can reduce other stimuli. As a person looks at the item, they may want to think about how it feels, who made it and what shape it is. This can help to reduce the symptoms of a panic attack.

10. Try muscle relaxation techniques

Another symptom of a panic attack is muscle tension. Practicing muscle relaxation techniques may help to limit an attack. If the mind senses that the body is relaxing, other symptoms, such as rapid breathing, may also diminish.

Progressive muscle relaxation is a popular technique for coping with anxiety and panic attacks.

11. Picture a happy place

A person’s happy place should be somewhere they would feel the most relaxed. Every aspect of it should be pleasing.

When a panic attack begins, it can help to close the eyes and imagine being in such a place. Think of how calm it is there. Imagine bare feet touching the cool soil, hot sand, or soft rugs.

Thinking about a relaxing and calm environment can help a person to become relaxed and calm.

12. Repeat a mantra

A mantra is a word, phrase, or sound that helps with focus and provides strength. Internally repeating a mantra can help a person to come out of a panic attack.

The mantra can take the form of reassurance and may be as simple as, “This too shall pass.” Or, it may have a more spiritual meaning.

As a person focuses on gently repeating a mantra, their physical responses can slow, allowing them to regulate their breathing and relax muscles.

13. Tell people

If panic attacks frequently occur in the same environment, such as a workplace, it may be helpful to inform others and let them know what kind of support to offer.

If an attack happens in public, telling even one person can help. They may be able to locate a quiet spot and prevent others from crowding in.

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