Anyone who has had a panic attack can attest to how scary the experience can be. Even though your body is not in any mortal danger, it perceives itself to be on the brink of death.
A panic attack can last for anywhere between 5 to 30 minutes, during which people tend to experience dizziness, arrhythmia, sweating, chest pain, tingling, and numbness, nausea, diarrhea, chills, shortness of breath, etc. Some people also think they are dying or having a heart attack.
Panic attacks can also morph into panic disorder, a type of anxiety disorder, which is characterized by recurrent panic attacks, and a fear of getting another panic attack in the future.
While you cannot stop the panic attack when it has already started, you can manage the triggers and symptoms of the condition better.
Effective ways to deal with a panic attack
Recognize the signs
Perhaps more daunting than the panic attack is the emotional toll it takes, and the feeling of losing control. The fear that it brings can be extremely debilitating.
It helps to know what your signs of a panic attack are, so you can at least assure yourself of not being in mortal peril but experiencing a panic attack.
Disrupt the onslaught of negative thoughts
The avalanche of negative thoughts can not only trigger a panic attack but can also make your anxiety worse. Therefore, when you see your anxiety levels escalating, try to stop the thought process by giving your brain a slightly challenging task.
For example, you may start counting backward from 10, or doing the multiplication tables, etc.
Breathing exercises help
Since breathing issues are among the panic attack symptoms, managing your breathing can be help prevent and ride out the panic attack.
There are many applications that can also help you in practicing breathing exercises during a panic attack and otherwise as well. Breathing exercises like deep breathing are also effective for dealing with anxiety and stress, which can trigger feeling of panic in people.
Distract and focus
To distract yourself from the panic attack, it helps to divert your attention away from the symptoms and redirect your focus elsewhere. In this regard, having a mantra is helpful. Or, you can also find a spot in the room, and focus entirely on it.
Go to your happy place
Visualizing your safe and happy place is also an effective way to deal with and prevent a panic attack. So, when feeling anxious, go to your happy place. Involve all your senses for a more realistic experience.
For example, if the beach is your happy place, think of it. Imagine the smell of salt water, the feeling of wind through your hair, the view of the beach, and the taste of the salty air.
Get professional help
If your panic attacks are becoming recurrent, you must enlist the help of a professional for panic attack treatment. Your doctor might suggest therapy, medication, lifestyle interventions, etc. to deal with the disorder.