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How to Stop a Panic Attack? Try the 7 Ways

Apr 21, 2017

A panic attack is a sudden experience characterized by extreme fear and it often feels like losing control, having a heart attack or even dying. This intense fear is accompanied also by physical changes such as dizziness, headache, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, sweating, etc. Almost everyone at some point of life can experience a panic attack. Are there any ways to stop a panic attack?

How to Stop a Panic Attack

Try the following methods in an outburst of a panic attack.

1. Don’t Run Away

If you are having a panic attack on a public place, don’t run away. This will just make your situation get worse. Probably you will avoid public places in the future as you will be afraid of having another panic attack in such a place.

Instead, try to stay calm, focused and present. Take control of your symptoms such as by controlling your breathing might help. Stay grounded until this feeling of immense fear goes away.

2. Focus on the Thing You Are Doing

The key goal to stop a panic attack or even prevent a panic attack from reoccurring in the first place is by staying present. Focus on the present thing you were doing before you started feeling anxious and in panic.

If you are alone, just sit down and focus on your own body. Focus on your shoes and their pressure on your feet, the head leaned against something, the fabric of your clothes, etc. Think clearly and don’t let the moment and fear carry you away.

3. Ground Yourself

How to stop a panic attack? If you are having a problem of staying present and dealing with your fear and anxiety, perhaps grounding yourself can help. You can ground yourself to something tangible, which will create a distraction and help you stay present.

You can use an ice cube for example. You can pinch yourself as ice cubs are not always available. If you continue to pinch yourself, normally you will feel some pain. The pain that you feel will help you get back to reality, stay focused and present at the same time.

4. Control Your Breathing

A common symptom of a panic attack is a rapid and shallow breathing. This will fuel your attack even more. If you are able to control your breathing, you can help ease the signs and symptoms of a panic attack, as well as, return back to normal as soon as possible.

If you control your breathing, normally your heartbeat, blood pressure, sweating and all the other symptoms of a panic attack will get back to normal. Here are some tips on how to control your breathing:

  • Take a deep breath and try to hold it for as long as you can. By doing so you will reduce the feeling of not being able to breathe, but at the same time you will balance the levels of oxygen and dioxide carbon in your body.
  • Breathe deeply and slowly.
  • Try to breathe with your diaphragm. For this purpose, you can sit on a chair, place one hand on the chest and the other one just below your rib cage.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply through your nose while trying to keep the rest of your body as still as possible. Concentrate on your breathing and try to relax.
  • The 5 – 2 – 5 method is also recommended when trying to control breathing in cases of a panic attack. This method consists of diaphragm breathing for 5 seconds, followed by holding your breath for 2 seconds and then exhaling for another 5 seconds. You should repeat this method 5 times.

5. Talk to Yourself

You can always talk to yourself about what is really going on, that there is no need for panic, that there is not a real life-threatening situation, that you have been through this a couple of times before and that there will be everything just fine within a couple of minutes once this immense fear is over.

6. Take the Medications That Your Doctor Prescribed to You

How to stop a panic attack? In order to stop and prevent panic attacks from reoccurring, you should take regularly all the medications that your doctor prescribed to you. Common medications used for this purpose are benzodiazepines, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), etc. In general, benzodiazepines such as lorazepam, diazepam or alprazolam are recommended.

These medications relieve the signs and symptoms of a panic attack within 10 to 30 minutes. Medications like oxazepam or clonazepam have a slower start but their effect lasts longer compared to the above-mentioned medications. Benzodiazepines are often prescribed in small doses on a regular basis until the panic attacks become more manageable and treatable with other methods.

7. Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation Techniques

How to stop a panic attack? Progressive muscle relaxation techniques can help. It has been estimated that progressive muscle relaxation techniques can help prevent anxiety over a long period of time as well as help a person deal with the anxiety and stress on a daily basis.

Try to lie down and to relax yourself and your body at the same time. Start working your muscles by tensing and releasing them. Start with your arm for example, and then move to the other arm, your shoulders, neck, jaw, face, chest, back, hips, and legs. Take all the time you need and relax. Eliminate all the tension within your body.