How to Control Panic Attacks

You’re walking down the street perfectly content with the rest of the world when suddenly out of the blue you feel a terror so great that you begin to have chest pains. Everything around you starts to spin. Your mind’s a mess and nothing makes sense. If this has happened to you then you know how utterly terrifying a panic attack feels like. Having a panic attack means more than feeling a little apprehensive.

Think of feeling anxious but multiply it by 10. Panic attacks aren’t life threatening and although they last only for ten minutes it is still a frightening experience that would leave a person unstable afterwards. In fact having a panic attack raises the possibility of the person having a second attack and another until it develops into a full blown panic attack disorder where the person is likely to have at least 3 attacks a month.

Symptoms of panic attack

The common symptoms during a panic attack are hyperventilation, sweating, shortness of breath, racing or pounding heart, chest pain, dizziness, disassociation, terror, tunnel vision, fear of death, paralysis. A person may suffer from a just a few of these symptoms to multiple ones.

An attack occurs unexpectedly without a way for the person to alleviate the symptoms. And while panic attacks are disabling it can be controlled and eventually cured with therapy it doesn’t help the person going through it right now. Is the only thing that a person can do is sit there and wait until the moment the panic attack stops? The answer is no.

There are methods of coping with a panic attack. While you are going for the long term cure in therapy and medication here are a few techniques to help you relieve some of the pain of a panic attack.

Breathe. Relaxation and breathing exercises are proven to help people better cope with anxiety and panic attacks. Center your breathing on your abdomen. When you inhale try to fill your body with enough air to expand your stomach. Practice breathing from your lower abdomen, filling your lungs with as much air and exhaling to the point of gasping. This is important as proper breathing techniques can help reduce the tension in your body. The more oxygen flowing through your body and brain will improve your concentration. Breath steadily.

Think happy thoughts. When you feel the rising panic in your chest try to imagine your happy place. Imagine yourself prancing along a well lit trail with cute bunnies. Or focus on your favorite thing or person. It doesn’t matter what your type of safe place as long as it can distract you from the fear you are feeling.

Go deep into yourself. Your senses may become overwhelmed during a panic attack. Your sight and hearing may go into a frenzy of visual and aural stimuli. Distance yourself from these by shutting your senses down. Close your eyes or even go as far as plugging your ears.

Identify your feelings and change them. Your initial reaction to a panic attack is to deny what you are feeling. Accept the fear. Don’t blame yourself or think yourself as weak for not being able to control it. The more you face the fear the less intense it’s hold will be over you.

Distract yourself. When you begin focusing on the fear and the endless "what if" scenarios your fear will increase. Count down from a 100 or do any other mundane task will keep your mind from inventing more frightening thoughts.

Panic attacks can be debilitating and devastating in its intensity. The mind is a powerful weapon. But it is still all in the head. Despite the pervading feeling of doom accompanying a panic attack, there is no physical threat to you. A panic attack will not kill you. Recovering from panic attack disorder is a long and arduous process but it can be overcome.