How to Control Panic Attacks
Author: Stephanie Camins – MA, LPC
When panic attacks, it takes control of your body and mind. Signs of a panic attack include rapid heartbeat, hyperventilation, sweaty palms, dizziness, tightness in the chest, and a sinking feeling in your stomach accompanied with thoughts such as, “I’m going to die, I’m losing it, I’m going to pass out, I won’t be able to breathe.” Panic attacks can come from out of nowhere or may progress in phases from mild symptoms to moderate to full blown. A psychotherapist as part of anxiety counseling will measure panic on an anxiety scale with zero (0) being calm and up to ten (10) being a major panic attack. Keeping a record of your panic attacks will help you identify your own initial warning signs as you begin the learning process of how to control panic attacks.
Panic Attack Journal
A Panic Attack Journal includes the date, time, duration, and intensity of your panic attack. The intensity scale is zero (0,) no symptoms to five (5), early panic symptoms, to ten (10) a major panic attack. Also include in your journal your stress level prior to the panic attack, what kind of mood you were in, how rested were you, what your consumption of caffeine or sugar was, what negative or irrational thoughts were circling in your mind, and who you were with. Include a list of alternative explanations for your physical symptoms that are not catastrophic or irrational. Now that you have your own panic attack diagram, you can implement coping strategies to prevent or counteract panic.
Stop Panic Attacks
You may be able to stop a panic attacks once they’ve started by following a simple plan using coping strategies designed to calm the body and mind. Fighting panic can make the symptoms worse. Focus on letting the wave of panic pass through you as your body reabsorbs the adrenaline burst. 1. Practice taking slow deep breaths –breathe in for 7 seconds, hold for two seconds and exhale for 7 seconds. 2. Repeat positive statements – This will pass, this anxiety won’t hurt me, I can handle this. 3. Engage in physical activity – take a walk, do yoga stretches. 4. Focus on the present – What do I see, hear, taste, touch and feel. 5. Use easy distraction techniques – count backwards from 100, sing a song, snap a rubber band on your wrist, eat a snack, drink a glass of water. How to prevent panic attacks from occurring at all involves managing stress and anxiety in your life on a regular basis following a program of relaxation techniques, exercise, and healthy eating as well as learning to acknowledge and express your feelings in healthy ways. See the article “How to Control Anxiety – A Tool Box for Stress Management” for further information.
Natural Remedies for Panic Attacks
Natural remedies are classified as any coping strategies you use which do not involve medication. With severe panic attacks that are debilitating and prevent you from leaving your home or being able to function in your life, it may be necessary to consult with your doctor to review a medication protocol in addition to anxiety counseling from a qualified psychotherapist. Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT anxiety counseling is the standard form of therapy used in counseling services for the treatment of panic attacks. Panic attacks can be treated successfully in a step by step model returning you to a healthy, happy lifestyle.