Having a panic attack is an absolutely terrifying experience. There are a number of very real physical symptoms that accompany a panic attack ranging from chest pain to a feeling of being choked. Some people even feel like they are having a heart attack during a panic attack. Anyone who has suffered from one of these debilitating attacks will tell you that they never want to have another. Fortunately, there are ways that you can not only control panic attacks but also prevent them altogether.
Here are some tips on how to stop these extremely painful episodes.
1. Learn to recognize the symptoms. Part of what makes a panic attack so scary is because you feel like you are dying. The fact is, however, that a panic attack won’t kill you. The symptoms may be incredibly uncomfortable, but they will pass. By recognizing them for what they are, you can help weaken their power over you. Some of the symptoms that you may want to watch for include chest pain, dizziness, lightheadedness, feeling scared that you may die, feeling like your throat is closing, numbness or tingling, nausea, heart palpitations, sweating, shaking, or feeling too hot or too cold. You may also feel detached from reality or like the world around you is not real. Recognizing the symptoms can help you identify that you are having a panic attack, making it easier for you to wait it out.
2. Control your breathing. Once you realize that you are having a panic attack, the next step is to focus on your breathing. Take long, slow breaths, breathing through your nose with each inhale and through your mouth with each exhale. If you find it too difficult to slow down your breathing, try taking a deep breath and holding it for as long as you can. Then breathe out slowly. After this, focus on taking slow, steady breaths. Try to fill your lungs completely. This deep breathing will help relax you by giving your body the oxygen that it needs. It also helps distract you from the symptoms that you are feeling.
3. Try not to flee or run away from the situation that caused the panic attack. Each time you do that, you solidify the anxiety in your mind. Instead, try to stay where you are and work your way through it. Feelings of panic will pass if you give them time. Once you make it through a panic attack once or twice, you will be far less likely to experience one again in the future. The best way to loosen the hold of anxiety is by forcing yourself to confront the situation head-on. This sends a message to your mind and your body that the situation is not actually a threat, which can help reduce the anxiety response.
Finally, talk to your doctor about whether or not medication may help you combat your panic. There are many drugs out there that are excellent at helping to control anxiety. When it comes to how to stop panic attacks, often times a multi-pronged approach that includes behavioral changes and medication is best.