Self-Help for Panic Attacks

Reduce Your Panic Attack Symptoms

Photo © Microsoft
Self-help strategies can help you remain calm during panic attacks. Copyright Microsoft

Recurring panic attacks are the hallmark symptoms of panic disorder. Panic attacks are sudden and intense feelings of terror, fear or apprehension without the presence of actual danger. The symptoms of a panic attack usually happen suddenly, peak within 10 minutes and then subside. However, some attacks may last longer or may occur in succession, making it difficult to determine when one attack ends and another begins.

Fortunately, there are some steps you can take that may stop a panic attack from escalating out-of-control and reduce your overall anxiety. Some self-help exercises is allows you to take back control and better  cope with your panic attacks. Read ahead to learn about self-help activities that may stop panic in its tracks. 

Practice Deep Breathing

Most people are not really conscious about the way they are breathing, but when people are anxious they tend to take rapid, shallow breaths that come directly from the chest. The sensations of choking an shortness of breath are common during a full-blown panic attack. This type of breathing is called thoracic or chest breathing. Chest breathing causes an upset in the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the body, resulting in increased heart rate, dizziness, muscle tension and other physical sensations.

The next time panic attacks, notice how you are breathing.

Try to make a conscious effort to slow your breath down. Take a full deep breath into your nose, feeling your rib cage and stomach expand as you inhale. Breath in until you are unable to take in any more air then slowly exhale out of your mouth. Be sure to expel all of the air out and then repeat. Try several cycles of this breath and then check in with yourself.

Note how you feel. Most likely you're body and mind will both be in a much better state and you let go of muscle tension and nervous thoughts with each deep breath you take. 

Learn Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is a stress and anxiety management technique. If you have panic disorder, agoraphobia or another type of anxiety disorder, you may experience frequent muscle tension. In fact, chronic muscle tension may be so automatic that it seems normal, and you may have forgotten what it feels like when your muscles are completely relaxed. By employing the progressive muscle relaxation technique, you will be able to quickly rediscover the distinctions between relaxation and tension of various muscle groups. This exercise can even elicit the relaxation response, which can lower one's heart rate and potentially calming the mind and restoring the body.

Use a Self-Modification Program

Self-modification programs focus on helping people manage unwanted or dysfunctional behavioral responses when dealing with their problems.

For example, if you have panic attacks as a result of panic disorder, a common dysfunctional behavioral response is avoidance. Unfortunately, avoiding fearful situations does nothing to help in your recovery from panic disorder. 

Use a Panic Diary

If you have panic disorder or agoraphobia, a panic diary may help you to identify your panic attack triggers and your responses to anxiety-provoking situations. It is usually best to record in your panic diary as you are experiencing (or shortly thereafter) anticipatory anxiety or a panic attack. Be certain to also write down what strategies you used to get through the attack. Using a diary in this way can also allow you to gain insight on your progress and a better understanding of what has helped you get through your panic attacks. 

Develop Your Coping Techniques

If you have panic disorder, agoraphobia or another anxiety disorder, anxiety-provoking situations may occur on a daily basis. Enhancing and refining your coping techniques can help you deal with them. Even though self-help techniques can be extremely useful in overcoming panic attacks, many times additional help is needed. If you are struggle to mange panic and anxiety, be certain to feel out professional help. A doctor or therapist can assist you finding long-term relief from your panic attack symptoms

Continue Reading