Daisy Chow, LMHC, NCC
How to Cope with Panic Attacks
Panic attacks can be very scary especially when if comes on all of a sudden. Here are some tips on how to manage a panic attack. You may also want to see a mental health professional to get additional help; cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy are two types of treatment that may help manage anxiety and panic attacks. A form of psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy can help you learn, through your experience, that symptoms of panic are not dangerous. There are strategies that can be used to decrease or eliminate panic symptoms, rebuild confidence, and take control back in your life. People cannot always predict when panic attacks will happen, but having a plan of what to do when one does happen can help an individual feel more in control and help make panic attacks easier to handle. The key to stopping or minimizing any panic attacks is focusing on the outside world (sights, sounds, sensations) instead of internal cues (heart palpitations, frightening thoughts, or fast breathing). Learning how to slow down breathing helps to avoid uncomfortable physical symptoms and break the cycle of panic. By learning how to control your breathing, you can calm down when you start feeling anxious. If you are able to control your breathing, you are less likely to have hyperventilation, which can worsen the rest of your symptoms--and a panic attack itself. Use Deep Breathing While hyperventilation is a symptom of panic attacks that can amplify the feelings of fear, breathing deeply reduces the symptoms of panic in an attack. Practicing deep breathing exercises daily can help to prevent panic attacks. Like deep breathing, these activities reduce muscular tension and help you to regain your composure. Using Muscle Relaxation Techniques Much like deep breathing, muscle relaxation techniques can help you stop a panic attack in its tracks, controlling the response of your body to the extent that possible. If you are feeling the onset of a seizure, simple breathing and relaxation techniques can help you feel more in control. Taking up regular exercise may help decrease your anxiety over time, potentially leading to less frequent or less severe panic attacks. Regular anxiety, fear, or panic may also be the primary symptoms of several medical conditions. When people experience heightened sensitivity to anxiety, they may misinterpret natural body sensations as a physical ill health symptom, which may cause increased anxiety and triggered panic attacks. As a result of feeling, an individual becomes afraid to have another panic attack, thus leading to a feeling of panic (fearing fear), and their physical panic symptoms worsen, impacting their mental health in general. If physical symptoms of panic are caused by physical illnesses, like diabetes or hyperthyroidism, appropriate medical treatments of physical illnesses should prevent the recurrence of panic-like symptoms. Your doctor can distinguish between an occasional panic attack and a more severe panic disorder, which may require professional treatment and perhaps medications. When you are feeling anxious and panicky, it may help to have coping statements to use to remind yourself that panic is not dangerous or harmful. Panic support groups have useful tips on how to handle attacks. Support is also available if you are having trouble dealing with your anxiety, fears, or panic.