How Do I Stop A Panic Attack?

Is your anxiety getting the best of you? Are you starting to suffer from panic attacks? Around eleven percent of American adults suffer from a panic attack each year.

Whether you’re the one suffering from panic attacks, or it’s one of your loved ones, they can be very scary. Let’s go through how to stop a panic attack.

Signs of a Panic Attack

Are you wondering, “what is a panic attack?” First, you’ll need to learn how to recognize the differences between a panic attack and other potential health issues. Some panic attack symptoms you’ll want to look out for include:

  • Chest pain
  • Shaking hands and limbs
  • Shortness of breath
  • Disassociating from what’s around you
  • Racing heart rate

Of course, the signs of a panic attack differ from person to person. Everyone experiences them in different ways.

How Long Do Panic Attacks Last?

The length of a panic attack can differ depending on the severity of the incident. The vast majority of panic attacks last between five minutes and twenty minutes, but they can persist for up to an hour. If your panic attacks last longer than that, there may be a greater issue going on.

Treating The Underlying Causes of Panic Attacks

You may have a panic attack as a once-off, as a result of severe stress. However, panic attacks are often a sign of an underlying issue. You may be struggling from a panic disorder, or from generalized anxiety disorder. These disorders can coexist with other mental health problems, such as depression.

Signs and symptoms of panic disorder include:

  • Having panic attacks unexpectedly without external stress factors
  • Chills
  • A fear of losing control
  • Pain or discomfort in your stomach
  • Chest pains
  • An ongoing sense of doom
  • Feeling detached from reality
  • Ongoing fear of dying
  • Dry mouth
  • Irritability

Therapy is the best way to treat underlying issues that may be triggering your panic attacks. You’ll be able to talk through your fears and what happens in situations where your panic attacks occur. This will help you identify possible triggers so you can avoid them or work through them. 

There are also specific mental health treatments you can look into if you believe that you’re suffering from an ongoing panic disorder. Your mental health care provider may recommend cognitive behavior therapy, exposure therapy, or other forms of treatment to help you work through your problems. Medication may also be an option that’s considered for treating the symptoms of an anxiety disorder.

Fighting Off Panic Attacks

When you suffer from a panic attack, there are lots of different strategies you can use to help calm yourself down. First, you need to understand that you’re having a panic attack.

Otherwise, you may confuse your symptoms with something else. This becomes much easier once you’ve had one panic attack, since you’ll be able to recognize what panic attacks look like for you.

Counting backwards can also be a useful strategy for calming down during a panic attack, since it can distract you from what’s bothering you. You can also try closing your eyes so that you can focus on your breathing rather than things that are going on around you.

Ice packs can also be used when you’re having a panic attack. The difference in temperature helps your body calm down. If you have particular things that trigger your panic attacks, finding ways to mitigate them can also be helpful. For example, if bright light contributes to your issue, try wearing sunglasses when you walk outside during the daytime.

You can also try muscle relaxation to get through your panic attacks. Your muscles may tense up when you’re anxious, which can get even worse when you start to have a panic attack. Try tensing and relaxing individual muscles at a time, while you work through your body.

Take Deep Breaths

panic attack

Different breathing exercises are always helpful for stopping a panic attack. Try taking slow and deep breaths. Deep breathing, even when you’re not having a panic attack, has been shown to help lower the cortisol levels in your brain which correlate with reduced stress levels.

You can ask a mental health professional what techniques they recommend. Yoga and meditation classes can also be helpful for finding breathing techniques to reduce your stress levels.

You can also use these strategies to help when you have a loved one suffering from a panic attack. You can walk them through some of the grounding techniques, or help them mirror your breathing to get their own back to normal. 

Grounding Techniques for Panic Attacks

There are also lots of grounding techniques you can try out to help bring you back to yourself. The “four things” technique is one that’s commonly used. You start by thinking about four things you can see. Then, you move on to three things you can touch.

Next, you think about two things you can smell. Lastly, you consider one thing you can taste. This technique helps you refocus yourself on your environment and ground yourself in reality.

Having a mantra to repeat can also help you get through a panic attack. Another option is to have something calming to smell, like aromatherapy. Lavender is one good option to try out.

Work Through Panic Attacks Today

Hopefully, you now have some tools to help you work through panic attacks in the future. If one doesn’t work for you, try out some of the others. Eventually, you’ll figure out something that works for you.Are you looking for mental health treatment options? Contact First Light Recovery today to get started.