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Coping with Panic Attacks: Practical Strategies for Relief

Updated: Apr 5

Experiencing a panic attack can be an overwhelming and frightening ordeal, but it's crucial to remember that you are not alone, and there are effective strategies to help you navigate through these intense moments. In this article, we will discuss what to do if you find yourself in the midst of a panic attack and offer practical tips for managing and alleviating the symptoms.

 

What is an anxiety attack?

Anxiety attacks, also known as panic attacks, are intense episodes of acute anxiety that involve a sudden onset of overwhelming fear and a range of physical and psychological symptoms. These episodes can be highly distressing and often occur without warning, peaking within minutes. It's important to note that while the terms "anxiety attack" and "panic attack" are often used interchangeably, some individuals and mental health professionals may prefer one term over the other.



Recognizing a Panic Attack

Before delving into coping strategies, it's essential to recognize the common signs of a panic attack. These may include:

·        Intense fear or impending doom.

·        Rapid heartbeat or palpitations.

·        Shortness of breath or a feeling of being smothered.

·        Sweating, trembling, or shaking.

·        Chest pain or discomfort.

·        Nausea or abdominal distress.

·        Dizziness or light-headedness.

·        Chills or hot flashes.

·        racing mind, a sense of losing touch with reality

·        a fear of going crazy during a panic attack.


Duration and Triggers


Panic attacks typically reach their peak intensity within a few minutes. While the acute phase is brief, the overall experience may leave individuals feeling exhausted or emotionally drained. Panic attacks can be triggered by specific situations, events, or stimuli, but they can also occur seemingly without any apparent cause. Common triggers include stress, certain phobias, traumatic experiences, or major life changes.

 

Some individuals may experience isolated panic attacks, while others may have recurrent episodes. The frequency and severity of panic attacks can vary from person to person.

It's important to differentiate panic attacks from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). While GAD involves chronic and excessive worry about various aspects of life, panic attacks are sudden and acute episodes of intense anxiety.


If an individual experiences recurrent panic attacks or finds that anxiety significantly impairs their daily functioning, it is advisable to seek professional help. Mental health professionals, such as psychologists, psychiatrists and coaches can offer support, and develop appropriate intervention to help you get better.



 

What to Do During a Panic Attack


Practice Deep Breathing:

Focus on slow, deep breaths to help regulate your breathing and calm your nervous system. Inhale deeply through your nose, hold for a few seconds, and exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat until your breathing stabilizes.


Ground Yourself:

Grounding techniques can help bring your attention back to the present moment. Identify and name five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.


Challenge Negative Thoughts:

Recognize and challenge any negative or catastrophic thoughts that may be fuelling your panic. Remind yourself that the feelings are temporary and will pass.


Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR):

Tense and then gradually release tension in different muscle groups to promote relaxation. Start with your toes and work your way up to your head, paying attention to each muscle group.


Focus on a Soothing Object:

Carry a small, comforting object with you, such as a stress ball or a smooth stone. Engaging with a tangible item can provide a sense of security. If you are in the house and you have a candle to hand, watching the dancing flame can be very soothing to the soul.


Use Affirmations:

Repeat positive affirmations to counteract negative thoughts. Remind yourself that you are safe and capable of managing the situation.


Seek a Quiet Space:

If possible, find a quiet and calming environment to collect yourself. Remove yourself from overwhelming stimuli and focus on creating a sense of safety.


Reach Out for Support:

Call a trusted friend or family member who understands your situation. Vocalizing your feelings and having someone there to support you can be immensely comforting.





What to Do After a Panic Attack


Reflect and Self-Care:

Take some time to reflect on the experience without judgment. Practice self-compassion and engage in activities that bring comfort and relaxation.


Professional Assistance:

If panic attacks are recurrent or significantly impact your daily life, consider seeking professional help. A mental health professional such as a therapist, coach or psychologist can provide guidance and therapeutic interventions to manage anxiety.


I offer 1-2-1 confidential and compassionate support to those who are suffering from anxiety and stress. Through a tailor made program we work together to help reduce stress and make life's emotional ups and downs less turbulent through holistic approaches to health. I offer free consultation calls to all those who are in need, please reach out if you have had enough of your anxiety ruling your life and you are ready to reclaim your freedom.





Conclusion


Coping with a panic attack requires a combination of self-awareness, practice, and the utilization of various techniques. Remember that it's okay to seek support, whether from loved ones or mental health professionals. By incorporating these strategies into your routine and developing a personalized approach, you can gain a sense of control and resilience in the face of panic attacks.

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