Tips for Coping with Panic Attacks
Even if you know what triggers your panic attacks, try not to avoid the situation completely. Often we fear the unknown and by running away, the trigger itself can become larger than life and all-consuming.
Try to remember that you are not expected to rid yourself of panic attacks overnight. While it’s very easy for onlookers to simply say “Don’t panic, just relax and it will pass,” for the person suffering from panic attacks, it is extremely hard to imagine the attack being over. Taking small steps (that you feel you can cope with) and very gradually increasing the demands on yourself can help facilitate a smooth transition back to a panic-free life.
If you are experiencing stress, whether in your relationships or at work, try and work on ways to improve or change the stressful circumstances – stress is a major precipitant of Panic Attacks. Take steps to change the things that can be changed and learn stress management techniques.
Make sure that you eat regular wholesome meals, have sufficient sleep and also exercise regularly – all important in the management of Panic Attacks.
Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and CNS depressants, especially alcohol.
While Having a Panic Attack:
- Try not to let your mind get the better of you by running away with negative thoughts of death, disaster or fainting. Try to focus on the thought that the “this too shall pass.” Try saying this out loud – remember if you can talk, it means you are still breathing!
- Slow down your breathing by closing your eyes, taking SLOW deep breaths and blowing each breath out through pursed lips. By keeping your hand on your stomach you will become more aware of your breathing.
- Don’t concentrate too hard on the symptoms as this will only increase your anxiety. Try to simply ‘let go’ of the need to stop the attack and rather try to ride it out – getting yourself ‘through’ the worst of it until it passes.
- Keep in mind there is no actual danger in having a panic attack. Reassure yourself that the fear of harm is only sustaining the attack and allowing it to last longer than necessary!
For more information, see our article:
Anxiety, Panic Disorder, Phobias, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)