How to Stop a Panic Attack: 8 Tips and Remedies that Help

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS.
How to Stop a Panic Attack | If you're looking for stress management tips and natural remedies to help prevent and calm the symptoms of a panic attack, this post is a wonderful resource. You'll learn what causes panic attacks, the signs and symptoms, what to do when you feel an attack coming on, and things to help you return your mind and body to a place of calm. These strategies and techniques go above and beyond deep breathing, mindfulness, and meditation, and they work!

Your heart starts racing. Your palms get sweaty, and you feel like you can’t breathe. You may think you’re dying or having a heart attack, but the likely answer is a panic attack. Not only do they often occur without warning, but panic attacks are scary and can negatively disrupt your life. Yet learning how to stop a panic attack can give you more information about when it begins and how to reduce the severity before it becomes too overwhelming. 

What is a Panic Attack? 

Part of learning how to stop a panic attack is recognizing what they feel like and what to expect. A panic attack is a sudden experience of intense fear and anxiety in a situation that doesn’t pose any real threat or danger. It creates a combination of physical and emotional symptoms, and while most are short, usually lasting around 10-20 minutes, some can last longer. 

There are two types; expected and unexpected

  • Expected attacks occur when someone has direct experience with triggers. For example, someone afraid of bees might have a panic attack if one gets close.
  • Unexpected attacks occur without warning and can even happen when someone is calm.

14 Symptoms of a Panic Attack 

Nearly 5 percent of adults experience a panic attack at some time in their lives, and learning about the symptoms can help you or a loved one feel safer and more in control; 

  1. Feeling disconnected from life around you 
  2. Loss of control 
  3. Fear of “going crazy” 
  4. Fast breathing
  5. Dizziness 
  6. Shortness of breath
  7. Racing heart 
  8. Sweaty palms 
  9. Chest pain 
  10. Nausea  
  11. Blurred vision 
  12. Muscle aches  
  13. Shaking or trembling body  
  14. Chills or hot flashes  

What Causes a Panic Attack? 

While there isn’t an exact cause, there are several theories; 

  • Mood disorder. Panic attacks are a symptom of panic disorder. But can also occur in other mental disorders, such as major depressive disorder, social anxiety disorder, and bipolar disorder, to name a few. 
  • Consistent stress. Extreme stress over a long time can trigger attacks.
  • Lifestyle. Overusing alcohol, nicotine, or caffeine can all increase anxiety.

How to Stop a Panic Attack 

1. Identify your triggers 
It may feel like your panic attack is coming out of nowhere, and while sometimes they do, there are specific triggers that cause it. And knowing these triggers could teach you how to stop a panic attack and help you gain control. Here’s how to identify them; 

  • Think about your most recent attack. What were you doing? How were you feeling? What thoughts did you have? Journal these sensations, situations, and thoughts.
  • Next, if you notice bodily sensations, tell yourself what you’re experiencing is a normal response and that it’s temporary.
  • Then, investigate your thoughts and their consequences. If you fear having a heart attack, ask yourself if this outcome happened in your previous attacks.
  • Lastly, if you’re aware certain situations cause panic attacks, remind yourself you might get anxious, but it’s okay, and it will pass.

2. Breathe  
If you experience panic attacks, your fight-or-flight response activates and often creates short shallow breathing. To interrupt this response, try belly breathing. Not only will it ground you in the present moment, but it will decrease the intensity of your attack. 

  • Place one hand on your belly and one on your chest 
  • Slowly breathe through your nose and out your mouth. As you do so, notice your chest rising and your belly falling  
  • Repeat these steps until you feel safe

3. Ground yourself  
When you’re at the peak point of an attack, it may feel like it will never stop. It will, and relaxation techniques will help make the process easier by calming your breathing and slowing your racing heart. Here are a few examples you can use; 

  • Use your senses. Focus on your environment, and name five things you can see, four things you can feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
  • Visualize. Think about a real or imagined place that makes you happy. Focus on every detail as much as possible to refocus your attention.
  • Aromatherapy. Smelling strong scents like peppermint or lavender can stop your mind and body from focusing on the symptoms.

4. Practice feeling uncomfortable 
A part of having a panic attack is often the fear it will happen again. If you had a panic attack while dancing with friends, you might either avoid dancing publicly altogether or find yourself going out less and less. Instead of declining social invites, try slowly introducing yourself to the place your panic attack occurred. Start by going to a small bar with a friend or two to ease yourself back into socializing, then try a slightly bigger social outing, and so forth. Take your time and teach your brain it has nothing to fear.

5. Prepare words of encouragement 
While it’s difficult, you need to tell your brain that you’re not in danger. If you experience consistent panic attacks, prepare a script beforehand to read during the moment. For example, if you feel like you’re dying or losing control, repeat “I’m safe, and I’m in control of how I respond to my environment”. Put your script in an easily accessible place, such as in your phone or your wallet.

6. Distract yourself  
In a panic attack, our thoughts tend to go haywire, jumping from one conclusion to the next until we find ourselves at the ER asking for help. Instead of allowing your mind to reach this point, distract yourself. To do this, listen to soothing music, squeeze a stress ball, call a friend, or take a walk – anything to help you stop the chatter.

7. Don’t fight 
If you’re experiencing a panic attack, your go-to response may be to fight the panic attack and prevent it from continuing. But panic is the response to your body’s fight-or-flight response malfunctioning and will only worsen if you try to fight it. In contrast, let it happen and give it time to run its course. It may feel counterproductive, but letting it happen tells your body it has no real reason to fight or flee, it’s safe.

8. Move your body  
Interesting fact, you can outsmart your brain by moving your body. Licensed therapist Jodi Aman states, “Don’t stay still. Doing something changes the chemicals in the brain. It releases the GABA hormone that puts the breaks on the adrenaline.” The GABA hormone is a neurotransmitter that calms anxiety by reducing active cells in the nervous system. So, next time you experience panic, move your body and tell yourself you’re safe.

When to Seek Help 

If you experience frequent panic attacks and the fear of having them impacts your ability to function, it’s worth seeking help from a mental health professional. Through cognitive behavior therapy, you’ll learn how to identify your triggers, challenge your thoughts, and how to stop a panic attack. While panic attacks are scary, they don’t need to control your life. By learning more about your triggers and thought patterns, you can feel more at peace. 

This post contains affiliate links.

If you want to know how to stop a panic attack and found the tips in this post helpful, please share it on Pinterest!

How to Stop a Panic Attack | If you're looking for stress management tips and natural remedies to help prevent and calm the symptoms of a panic attack, this post is a wonderful resource. You'll learn what causes panic attacks, the signs and symptoms, what to do when you feel an attack coming on, and things to help you return your mind and body to a place of calm. These strategies and techniques go above and beyond deep breathing, mindfulness, and meditation, and they work!

And if you’re looking for more tips to manage anxiety, please follow our Mental Health board where we share all kinds of great ideas we find each day!

Share this post:

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest