Coping strategies for getting through panic attacks

Coping strategies for getting through panic attacks

Is it a heart attack or a panic attack? Many a time, symptoms of a panic attack are so distressing that people feel that they are dying or going crazy. The signs and symptoms develop abruptly and usually peak within 10 minutes. Generally, panic attacks do not last more than an hour and end within 20 to 30 minutes.

While panic attack may be a one-time occurrence, the frequency tends to rise in some in certain panic-triggering situations. In situations like public speaking, air travel, crossing a bridge, etc., possibility of panic attacks increases. A panic attack is dictated by intense fear, which can turn debilitating and immobilizing.

A panic attack can be recognized from a set of signs and symptoms, such as chest pain, racing heart or palpitation, hyperventilation and a sense of choking, trembling, sweating, nausea, upset stomach, dizziness or light-headedness, fainting, etc.

Besides these discomforting symptoms, people also witness numbness or tingling sensation, hot or cold flashes, fear of dying, losing control on sanity, and a sense of detachment from reality and going crazy. Panic attacks may occur in conjunction with other disorders, such as panic disorder, social phobia or depression.

Regardless of the risk factor, one can learn to cope with the symptoms of panic attack that could help him/her to reduce the frequency and severity of anxiety. Some of the effective coping strategies are as follows:

  • Taking a step back to evaluate one’s predicament: One of the efficacious ways to avoid a panic attack is by stopping the escalation of negative thoughts through constant practice. Sometimes, one might have to stop himself or herself to instruct his or her mind to not run along the track of anxiety. Taking a second to evaluate one’s train of thoughts can help him or her recognize the value of those thoughts.
  • Writing down thoughts: Studies have established that writing down thoughts help to put one in the right direction and alleviate any irrational fears. A study demonstrated that throwing away written thoughts into the bin helped people discard their worries as well. Experiments conducted by James Pennebaker, professor at the University of Texas, exhibited that one can effectively deal with stress associated with loss by speaking and writing about their emotions. Such measures assist a person to step out of their loss by experiencing a new perspective before moving on.
  • Focusing on one’s breathing: Since panic attacks are accompanied by hyperventilation, one of the most effective relaxation techniques is methodical and controlled breathing. One has to make an effort to breathe slowly and deeply that can be achieved by practicing mindful breathing exercises regularly. Deep breathing during yoga has been effective in normalizing breathing in people suffering from depression, anxiety, etc.
  • Having an anchor: An effective anchor is familiar with a person’s anxiety history and is not judgmental about it. It could be the affected person’s therapist, spouse, relative or a good friend with whom he/she feels comfortable reaching out for support.
  • Practicing self-care: One has to be more in tune with his or her emotions to be able to gauge in advance any signs and symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks. This is only possible if one takes care of his or her emotional and physical needs. Rather than succumbing to a debilitating condition, one can make his or her life more exhilarating by becoming conscious about his or her needs.
  • Regaining control through activities that reduce stress: Some effective interventions include yoga and meditation that help strengthen the mind and reduce negative thoughts. Through regular exercise one can reduce stress and improve sleep. Exercise assists in uplifting mood by releasing endorphins.

Seek help

It is essential to seek professional help when problems like anxiety and panic attacks prevent one from living a healthy and productive life. Proper counseling and medications can help a person determine the root cause and address his or her mental disorders.

If you or a loved one is suffering from any mental disorder, contact the Colorado Mental Health Help to access the best mental health treatment centers in Colorado. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-596-4708 or get in touch with our expert via mental health online chat.