Controlling a Panic Attack
Panic attacks can be scary, causing you stress and amplifying your anxiety. When we feel one coming on, often we feel helpless and let the panic attack take over us. However, we should be the ones in control of our panic attacks if we want to overcome our anxiety. But how exactly can we do this? By learning more about anxiety and panic attacks, you can start to understand your situation more. With this knowledge and our top tips below, you can begin applying effective tactics to your daily life, which make you feel calm and relaxed during and after attacks.
What Are Panic Attacks?
Panic disorder is characterised as extremely powerful feelings of anxiety and fear, which overwhelm a person quickly. These episodes are called panic attacks. More often than not, a panic attack will intensify over ten to fifteen minutes and end within thirty minutes. This might be shocking to some people who have believed panic attacks to be short-lived experiences. Most attacks will be caused by hyperventilation, which often accompanies fear and stress.
Those who suffer from panic disorder experience multiple, unexpected panic attacks that appear to happen out of nowhere, making the episode more intense. They also constantly worry about more attacks recurring and often change their behaviour to prevent further attacks in the future. In more severe cases of this disorder, people might avoid leaving the house in fear of being helpless in an area when a panic attack comes on. So how can we overcome this fear and start to take back control?
Other anxiety problems like generalised anxiety disorder and social phobia can also trigger panic attacks when suffers are forced to do something they are afraid of. This can be public speaking or being surrounded by crowds, for example.
Don’t Let The Fear of Panic Attacks Control You
Professor Paul Salkovskis from the University of Bath mentions the importance of not letting your fear of panic attacks control you. He stresses the significance of remembering that your panic attacks always pass and that the symptoms are not a sign of anything severely harmful happening. You shouldn’t worry that a panic attack is being caused by some form of detrimental physical health issue. He says that you need to tell yourself that the symptoms you are experiencing in the panic attack are being caused by the anxiety alone.
If you let the fear of panic attacks control you, you could make your panic attacks worse. As your anxiety of when you could have a panic attack increases, so does the likelihood of one happening.
Ride Out the Panic Attack
If you feel yourself starting to have a panic attack, don’t drop everything and start to get more worried and scared. Try to keep active in what you are going, whether that is walking down the street or shopping in a store. You don’t want to leave the situation until the anxiety has passed, if possible. This will help you develop more control over your panic attacks as over time, as you can finish tasks without letting the anxiety take over you. If you start changing your behaviour when a panic attack occurs, then the disorder is controlling you, not the other way around.
Try Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises can help you during a panic attack, keep your breathing steady and decrease your anxiety. When we have a panic attack, the shortness of breath can often make us panic more, making the experience more intense. Instead, try and remember these steps and carry it out next time you feel a panic attack coming on.
Firstly, breathe in slowly, gentle and deeply through the nose. Next, breathe out slowly and softly through the mouth. It can help to count steadily from one to five with each breath in and then each breath out. While you carry out the exercise, close your eyes and focus everything on breathing. After a few minutes, you should start to feel better, and maybe a little tired.
Therapy for Anxiety
If your panic disorder or generalised anxiety disorder is particularly hard to deal with, then therapy could help you. By working with an experienced counsellor, you can learn more about your disorder, the nature of panic attacks and more helpful tips on how to control the attacks. Maybe you are afraid to speak to family or friends about your disorders for whatever reason. Rather than letting this isolate you, you can talk to a counsellor who can create a safe and honest environment for you to open up and talk about your mental health.
Speak to a counsellor today to learn more about how to control your panic attacks and live without daily fear. Contact me today to learn more about how my services as a therapist can help you.