How to Effectively Stop a Panic Attack?

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Panic Attack
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Panic attacks are sudden, intense surges of fear, panic, or anxiety that can be overwhelming and frightening. They can happen to you at anytime, anywhere, and without any warning. You may feel like you’re losing control, having a heart attack, or even dying.

If you’ve ever experienced a panic attack, you know how scary and debilitating they can be. But you’re not alone. According to the [Anxiety and Depression Association of America] about 6 million Americans have panic disorder, a condition characterized by recurrent and unexpected panic attacks.

The good news is that panic attacks are treatable, and you can learn to cope with them effectively. In this blog post, we’ll share 13 methods that can help you stop a panic attack in its tracks or prevent one from happening.

1. Seek professional help

The first and most important step to deal with panic attacks is to seek professional help. A qualified mental health professional can diagnose your condition, rule out any underlying medical causes, and provide you with the best treatment options.

One of the most effective treatments for panic attacks and panic disorder is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a type of psychotherapy that helps you identify and challenge the negative thoughts and beliefs that trigger your panic attacks. It also teaches you coping skills and relaxation techniques to manage your anxiety and reduce your fear of future attacks.

CBT can be done individually or in a group setting, and it usually involves weekly sessions for several weeks or months. Research has shown that CBT can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of panic attacks, as well as improve your quality of life and functioning.

Another treatment option for panic attacks is medication. Some of the most commonly prescribed medications for panic disorder are antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. These medications can help balance your brain chemistry, ease your symptoms, and prevent panic attacks from occurring.

However, medication is not a cure-all, and it may have some side effects or interactions with other drugs. Therefore, it’s important to consult with your doctor before taking any medication, and to follow their instructions carefully. You should also never stop taking your medication abruptly, as this can cause withdrawal symptoms or rebound anxiety.

2. Practice deep breathing

One of the most common symptoms of a panic attack is hyperventilation, or rapid and shallow breathing. This can cause a vicious cycle of physical and emotional distress, as it can make you feel more anxious, dizzy, lightheaded, or nauseous.

To break this cycle, you need to practice deep breathing, or slow and controlled breathing from your diaphragm. Deep breathing can help calm your nervous system, lower your heart rate and blood pressure, and reduce your panic symptoms.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Find a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down.
  • Place any hand on your chest and the other one on your stomach.
  • Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing the oxygen to fill your belly. Your chest shouldn’t rise; instead, your stomach should.
  • Breathe out slowly through your mouth, emptying your belly of air. You should feel your stomach fall, but not your chest.
  • Repeat this process for several minutes, or until you feel more relaxed.

3. Use aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to enhance your physical and emotional well-being. Some essential oils have calming and soothing properties that can help you cope with panic attacks.

One of the most popular essential oils for anxiety and panic is lavender. Lavender has been shown to have anti-anxiety, antidepressant, and sedative effects. It can also lower your blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature, which are often elevated during a panic attack.

You can use lavender oil in several ways, such as:

  • Inhaling it directly from the bottle or a diffuser.
  • Applying it to your temples, wrists, or behind your ears.
  • Adding a few drops to your bath water or pillow.
  • Spraying it in your room or on your clothes.

Other essential oils that may help with panic attacks are chamomile, bergamot, rose, ylang-ylang, and clary sage. However, be careful not to use too much or too often, as some oils may cause irritation, allergy, or toxicity. You should also consult with your doctor before using any essential oils, especially if you have a medical condition or are pregnant or breastfeeding.

4. Find a quiet place

Sometimes, panic attacks can be triggered or worsened by external stimuli, such as loud noises, bright lights, crowds, or unfamiliar environments. If you feel a panic attack coming on or are having one, it may help to find a quiet place where you can feel more comfortable and safe.

This could mean leaving a busy room, going to a restroom, sitting in your car, or finding a bench in a park. Once you’re in a quiet place, you can focus on your breathing, use aromatherapy, or try other coping methods.

However, don’t isolate yourself completely or avoid situations that may cause you anxiety. This can lead to agoraphobia, a fear of places or situations where you feel trapped, helpless, or embarrassed. Agoraphobia can limit your life and make your panic disorder worse.

Instead, try to gradually expose yourself to the things that scare you, with the help of your therapist or a trusted friend. This can help you overcome your fears and regain your confidence.

5. Focus on an object

When you’re having a panic attack, your mind may be flooded with negative and irrational thoughts, such as “I’m going to die”, “I’m going crazy”, or “I can’t handle this”. These thoughts can fuel your panic and make you feel more detached from reality.

To counteract this, you need to ground yourself by focusing on something physical in your surroundings. This can help you distract yourself from your thoughts, anchor yourself to the present moment, and regain your sense of control.

You can choose any object that catches your attention, such as a painting, a plant, a book, or a pen. Then, try to describe the object in detail, using all your senses.

For example, you can ask yourself:

  • What color is it?
  • What shape is it?
  • What texture is it?
  • What does it smell like?
  • What does it sound like?
  • What does it feel like?

You can also try to count the object’s features, such as the number of petals on a flower, the number of pages in a book, or the number of letters on a sign. The more you focus on the object, the less you’ll focus on your panic.

6. Relax your muscles

Another common symptom of a panic attack is muscle tension, which can cause pain, stiffness, or cramps in your body. Muscle tension can also increase your anxiety and make you feel more restless and uncomfortable.

To ease your muscle tension, you can try progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), a technique that involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in your body. PMR can help you release physical and mental stress, improve your blood flow, and promote relaxation.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Find a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down.
  • Start with your feet and toes, and tense them as hard as you can for about 5 seconds.
  • Then, relax them completely and feel the difference for about 10 seconds.
  • Move on to your calves, and repeat the same process of tensing and relaxing.
  • Continue with your thighs, buttocks, stomach, chest, arms, hands, neck, and face, until you’ve covered all your muscle groups.
  • Breathe deeply and slowly throughout the exercise, and focus on the sensations in your body.

7. Picture a happy place

When you’re having a panic attack, you may feel trapped in a negative and scary situation. To escape this, you can use your imagination to transport yourself to a happy and peaceful place. This can help you calm your mind, soothe your emotions, and reduce your panic symptoms.

You can choose any place that makes you feel happy, such as a beach, a forest, a mountain, or your home. Then, try to visualize the place in detail, using all your senses. For example, you can ask yourself:

  • What do you see?
  • What do you hear?
  • What do you smell?
  • What do you taste?
  • What do you feel?

You can also imagine yourself doing something relaxing or enjoyable in that place, such as reading a book, listening to music, or playing with your pet. The more you immerse yourself in the place, the less you’ll focus on your panic.

8. Do some light exercise

Exercise is one of the best ways to cope with panic attacks, as it can help you burn off excess adrenaline, release endorphins, and improve your mood. Exercise can also distract you from your thoughts, increase your confidence, and enhance your physical and mental health.

such as running, cycling, or lifting weights, may increase your heart rate and blood pressure, which can mimic or trigger panic symptoms. Therefore, it may be better to opt for some light exercise, such as walking, yoga, or tai chi. These activities can help you relax your muscles, regulate your breathing, and release endorphins, the feel-good hormones that can counteract stress and anxiety.

You can do some light exercise anytime, anywhere, but especially when you feel a panic attack coming on or during one. You can also use an exercise app, such as [Nike Training Club] or [Daily Yoga], to guide you through the process.

9. Repeat a mantra

A mantra is a word, phrase, or sound that you repeat to yourself to focus your mind and calm your emotions. A mantra can help you cope with a panic attack by replacing negative and irrational thoughts with positive and rational ones.

You can choose any mantra that resonates with you, such as:

  • I am safe and in control.
  • This too shall pass.
  • I can handle this.
  • I am strong and capable.
  • I am not alone.

You can repeat your mantra silently or aloud, as many times as you need, until you feel more calm and grounded.

10. Tell someone

Sometimes, the best way to deal with a panic attack is to share it with someone else. Talking to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist can help you feel less isolated and more supported. They can also offer you comfort, reassurance, and practical advice.

You can call, text, or meet someone in person, depending on your preference and availability. You can also join a support group, either online or offline, where you can connect with other people who have similar experiences and challenges.

However, don’t rely on others to solve your problems or make you feel better. Ultimately, you are the one who has to face your fears and cope with your panic attacks. Use your support network as a source of encouragement and guidance, not as a crutch or a dependency.

11. Seek medical help

Sometimes, a panic attack can be so severe or prolonged that it requires medical attention. If you have any of the following symptoms, you should seek emergency care:

These symptoms could indicate a serious medical condition, such as a heart attack, a stroke, or an allergic reaction. They could also signal a mental health crisis that needs immediate intervention.

Don’t hesitate to call 911 or your local emergency number if you or someone you know is in danger. Getting help as soon as possible could save your life or someone else’s.

12. Learn from your experience

After a panic attack, you may feel exhausted, drained, or embarrassed. You may also worry about having another one in the future. However, instead of dwelling on the negative aspects of your experience, try to learn from it and use it as an opportunity to grow.

Some questions you can ask yourself are:

  • What triggered my panic attack?
  • What did I do to cope with it?
  • What worked and what didn’t?
  • What can I do differently next time?
  • What can I do to prevent or reduce the frequency of panic attacks?

By reflecting on your experience, you can identify your triggers, strengths, and weaknesses, and develop a plan to deal with panic attacks more effectively. You can also seek professional help or join a self-help program, such as [Panic Away] or [DARE], to learn more strategies and skills to overcome your panic disorder.

13. Be kind to yourself

Finally, remember to be kind and compassionate to yourself. Having a panic attack is not a sign of weakness, failure, or madness. It’s a normal and common response to stress, fear, or trauma, and it can happen to anyone.

Don’t blame or judge yourself for having a panic attack. Don’t compare yourself to others or feel ashamed of your condition. Don’t let your panic attacks define you or limit your potential.


What is a panic attack and how is it different from ordinary anxiety?

A panic attack is a sudden, overwhelming experience of intense fear or discomfort that reaches its peak within minutes. It is characterized by intense physical and mental symptoms, such as palpitations, sweating, difficulty breathing, and fear of dying or going crazy. Unlike common anxiety, panic attacks occur unexpectedly and can be triggered even without a real or obvious threat.

What are some common triggers for panic attacks?

Triggers for panic attacks can vary from person to person, but some common factors include extreme stress, anticipatory fear situations (such as flying or public speaking), sudden lifestyle changes, or past traumatic events. Identifying personal triggers can be helpful in managing and preventing panic attacks.

What can I do during a panic attack to reduce the intensity of the symptoms?

During a panic attack, it is important to stay calm and remember that the symptoms are temporary and do not pose a real threat. Try deep breathing techniques, such as diaphragmatic breathing, and try to distract yourself with simple activities, such as counting backwards or naming objects around you. Also, try to remember that the panic attack won’t hurt you and that it will eventually pass.

Is it useful to practice meditation and mindfulness to prevent panic attacks?

Yes, meditation and mindfulness can be effective tools for reducing the frequency and intensity of panic attacks. These practices encourage present moment awareness and help decrease activation of the sympathetic nervous system, which is associated with the fight or flight response. By regularly practicing meditation and mindfulness, you can develop skills to manage stress and anxiety more effectively.

How can cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) help in the treatment of panic attacks?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a therapeutic approach based on the idea that thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interrelated and can influence each other. In the treatment of panic attacks, CBT focuses on identifying and changing negative or distorted thinking patterns, as well as developing effective coping strategies. This may include techniques of gradual exposure to panic attack triggers and cognitive restructuring to change irrational beliefs.

Is it advisable to seek professional help if I experience panic attacks frequently?

Yes, it is important to seek professional help if you experience panic attacks frequently or if they significantly affect your quality of life. A mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, can conduct a complete evaluation and recommend appropriate treatment, which may include therapy, medication, or a combination of both. Don’t hesitate to seek help if you feel like you’re struggling to manage panic attacks on your own.

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