Anxiety attacks can be unsettling and embarrassing since they can occur at any time or any place. If you felt anxiety and shortness of breath suddenly, then you could have been experiencing a panic attack.
These attacks can be due to a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or a highly stressful situation. People often experience them acutely, while others have chronic panic attacks with no warning and no triggers. While you can’t always prevent them, it is possible to learn techniques that help put a stop to them.
How You Know You Are Having a Panic Attack
It is important to first understand what the symptoms are for a panic attack. Not only does this tell you if you are experiencing one, but it helps you to recognize the signs early so you can start a few tactics to help stop it from happening. This lets you put a stop to the panic attack before it progresses, since they do often worsen over time. Here are some different symptoms you might experience:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Fear of dying
- Feeling like you aren’t real
- Flushes or chills
- Flushed face
- Fight or flight
- Fear of losing control
- Racing heartbeat
- Tingling in the extremities
- Tunnel vision
- Twitching or trembling muscles
Symptoms Are Similar to a Heart Attack
Many people mistaken the symptoms of a panic attack with a heart attack since they are very similar. Everything from chest pains and dizziness could occur. The problem with this is that even if you know you are having a panic attack, it could be that intensified that it feels like a heart attack.
How to Stop a Panic Attack
Now let’s go over some different methods for getting rid of anxiety attacks. You should first understand that not every method will work for each person, and you might find other coping mechanisms that work better for you. These are simply suggestions based on a combination of tips from professionals and things others have done to help reduce their attacks.
Practice Breathing Exercises
Many people swear by doing yoga or meditation, where breathing they’re gaining control of their breathing to stop a panic attack. These panic attacks often make you feel like you are losing oxygen and can’t breathe in and out properly. Try deep, slow inhales (6 seconds in and 6 seconds out) of breath and keep your mouth closed. Then open your mouth and exhale. This simple breathing exercises allows your mind to focus on the oxygen and not the worried thoughts.
Just Say NO
Coping words and statements are very helpful for someone with a panic attack, especially early on when you start experiencing the first symptoms. If you are someone with an anxiety disorder that leads to frequent panic attacks, it is really important to come up with a coping word or phrase that you use as soon as you feel it coming on. It is meant to get you back to reality and let you understand it is a panic attack your mind has created, not a stroke or a heart attack. Many people will shout the word NO or STOP, while others tell themselves it will be okay, that it is not real.
Count Backwards From 100
When you are experiencing a panic attack, saying the coping phrase may not work at this point. This is when you need to get your mind to a more relaxed state. One way to do that is to focus on something that distracts you, such as counting backwards from 100. This can be helpful when you are in a situation where having a full-blown panic attack could be dangerous, such as if you are currently driving a vehicle. Before you can pull over, you need to make yourself safe, so counting backward from 100 can be useful.
Find something that will distract you from the worried thoughts and feelings, whether that is listening to music, watching a movie or television show, or talking to someone on the phone. This can take a little more time finding what helps you the most.
Continue learning about panic attacks and anxiety so you can find a good treatment option that is best for you and prevent them from happening.