When panic attacks occur, they are severely distressing, and at times may be perceived as life-threatening. Indeed, it can mimic medical problems such as a heart attack, and those with panic attacks sometimes end up in the emergency department for what seems to be an emergent crisis. The final common pathway for all anxiety problems is the feeling of loss of control. The good news is that there are ways to reduce the frequency and intensity of panic attacks and regain control. The following are 17 awesome ways to deal with panic attacks:
- Breathe into a paper bag
- Ask your doctor about prescribing lorazepam to place under your tongue
- Take slow, deep breaths
- Counting breaths
- Cool down
- Use the restroom
- Seek reassurance from another person
- Visualize a relaxing scene
- Get fresh air
- Support Group
- Medication treatment
- Progressive muscle relaxation
When one has a panic attack, one is breathing at a fast rate, and the levels of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream is lowered, and this makes one increase their own level of breathing even further. Breathing into a paper bag for 5 minutes can normalize the carbon dioxide levels in the bloodstream, thereby normalizing the rate of breathing, and the panic attack becomes less intense as a result.
A quick way to eradicate a panic attack is to place a 0.5mg or 1mg tablet of lorazepam underneath your tongue, then let it dissolve. In a few minutes, the lorazepam is absorbed into the blood vessels underneath the tongue, and travels directly to the brain, thereby explaining the rapid response. This is the sublingual method of drug delivery, which is a quick and direct route of getting the benzodiazepine directly to the brain. This approach requires a prescription from your doctor, as lorazepam is a prescription medication. As with anything dealing with medical treatment, follow the instructions of your physician. This is just one method that some people use, but is not considered medical advice. Medical advice can only come from your doctor.
One of the problems with panic attacks is that one may have rapid and hence shallow breathing. The solution then is to make a concerted effort to slow down the breathing and to concentrate on taking deep breaths.
In an effort to take slow, deep breaths, one method to use is counting breaths. Count the breaths slowly, using the familiar “one Mississippi, two Mississippi” and so forth. Eventually, the rhythm slows down, and the panic attack subsides.
Take a wet washcloth and wipe down your face and neck, as panic attacks can induce heat and sweat. Cooling down can help to reduce the intensity of the panic attack.
Voiding and ridding self of toxins can be helpful. Also, a splash of water on the face and neck can cool oneself down. Using the restroom can also be a place to get away from the crowds which may be triggering a panic attack.
Find a trusted person that knows how to help you through your panic attack. Ideally, you will have notified and educated this person on how to reassure you during a panic attack. This reassuring person can help to slow down your breathing, help cool you down, or just be present in case you are in need of extra help.
Try to visualize a relaxing scene, like a day at the beach, relaxing on a hammock, etc. This can help to distract one from the triggers of a panic attack, and to decrease overall anxiety levels.
Walking can help to distract one from the intense anxiety symptoms. Walking also serves to regulate breathing, when one is actively synchronizing the rhythm of their walking with their breathing. In addition, walking serves to remove one from the triggers of their panic attacks, like crowds of people, or a bridge if one is phobic of high places.
In the midst of having a panic attack, going outside for fresh air can help one to regulate breathing. It can also help one to remove themselves from the trigger of the panic attack, like crowds of people, or being claustrophobic.
Going to a counsellor can be helpful, as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is effective for dealing with anxiety and panic attacks. In CBT, one learns relaxation techniques, realistic thinking, exposure to fears, and identifying triggers.
Support groups are awesome! Support groups can be helpful, as it is a safe forum for people to tell their stories and how they solve their problems. It is also validating and reassuring to people, knowing there are others who have similar problems, and the support group becomes a haven for reassurance, fellowship, and solutions.
Meditation is helpful to help quiet down one’s mind. It can help one to regulate breathing and become aware of the different muscle groups in a healthy, calming way.
Prescription medications can help to avert panic attacks. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are effective over the long term for panic disorder. Benzodiazepines, like lorazepam or diazepam, are effective for panic attacks over the short term, but should only be a temporary solution until another treatment can address the panic attacks over the long term.
Inositol has been shown to be effective for panic disorder (Palatnik et al., 2001). The advantages of natural supplements are that they tend to have less side effects and are less expensive than prescription medications for anxiety treatment.
Try relaxing to help calm down the panic attack and overall anxiety level. Try listening to calm, soothing music, light some candles with a nice fragrance, soak in the tub, get a massage, etc.
Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing and relaxing specific muscle groups, and this is done in a systematic matter until all muscles groups are addressed. This exercise helps one to recognize what a tense muscle group feels like, and also helps one to recognize what a relaxed muscle group feels like. Progressive muscle relaxation helps to reduce stress and anxiety levels.