13 Tips and Techniques to Get Through a Panic Attack

How to Cope with a Panic Attack

 

For people who suffer from anxiety, panic attacks can creep up at any time. Read on to learn how to recognize the signs of a panic attack and minimize the symptoms. 

Recognizing the warning signs of a panic attack

While panic attacks can come on suddenly, they can also happen unexpectedly. It's good to know the common signs of an impending attack so you can take steps to mitigate the symptoms. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, most panic attacks come with common telltale signs, including: 

  • A sense of impending danger or doom
  • Rapid, noticeable heart rate
  • Fear of death or loss of control
  • Sweating, shaking and/or trembling
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Tightness in the throat or shortness of breath
  • Nausea, abdominal cramping
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness or faintness
  • Chest pain and/or headache
  • A feeling of detachment or unreality
  • Tingling or numbness sensation

How to cope with a panic attack

When you sense the beginning of a panic attack, there are a few ways you can relieve common symptoms. These include: 

  1. Chewing antacids to alleviate stomach discomfort
  2. Eating nuts or other healthy snacks to improve low blood sugar
  3. Sucking on hard candies to create a distraction
  4. Using colored pencils and paper for soothing (and distracting) art therapy
  5. Squeezing stress balls or another object
  6. Reading a good book to distract your mind
  7. Smelling scented items, such as vanilla and lavender 
  8. Looking at a photo of your favorite place or a loved one
  9. Listening to soothing nature sounds or music on your smartphone
  10. Covering up with a warm blanket (or a weighted blanket, if you have one)
  11. Practicing positive self-talk
  12. Using visualization and imagery tactics 
  13. Embracing thoughts of gratitude 

It can also be helpful to carry simple note cards with anxiety-reducing reminders, such as "breathe," "count to 100," "be mindful" or "think of your favorite place." There are also many helpful breathing exercises that can combat anxiety and alleviate your symptoms during an attack. 

Preventing panic attacks

The best way to cope with panic attacks is to prevent them in the first place. If you suffer from regular attacks, learn how to reduce your stress and prioritize wellness, including sleep and eating healthy. 

According to research, poor sleep amplifies anxiety by affecting the brain's insular and amygdala cortex, which play key roles in emotional processing. Other research has shown that inadequate sleep can increase the risk of anxiety disorders. Make sure you get enough sleep each night — most adults thrive on eight hours, but you may find you need more or less sleep to feel your best. 

If your panic attacks feel unmanageable, consider talking to a qualified therapist who has expertise in treating people with anxiety. In time, you’ll learn how to develop coping mechanisms and thought patterns that make it easier to manage panic attacks and other symptoms of anxiety.

The caring therapists at Foundations Counseling can help you live your best life. Contact us today!