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Health and Fitness News

Goodbye, Panic Attacks

What to do when you feel a panic attack coming on.

Your heart’s racing, you break out in a sweat, you feel dizzy, and you can’t get a full breath. You know it’s happening again, but you can’t stop it. Or can you?

Panic attacks often happen with no apparent trigger. All of a sudden you’re overwhelmed with intense anxiety and a sense of doom, even when you’re safe. After you’ve had one panic attack, you live in fear of having another. Some people become so fearful of subsequent attacks that they’re unable to live a normal life.

Are there ways to prevent panic attacks or to stop them when they start? Read on to find out.


While there are no ways to prevent all panic attacks, there are proven ways to lessen the chance of their recurrence. The first step is to see your doctor to rule out other health conditions that may have caused the panic attack symptoms.
It’s helpful to know what makes you more susceptible to panic attacks. Family history, substance abuse, psychological problems, stress, or an imbalance in the brain or nervous system can increase your chances of dealing with panic attacks.

Living a healthy lifestyle can go a long way in preventing future panic attacks and managing stress. Take care of your mind and body by eating a healthy diet and by avoiding caffeine, smoking, alcohol, and illegal drugs. Get regular exercise and at least eight hours of sleep each night. Practice deep breathing exercises to reduce anxiety.

If panic attacks have caused you to fear living life, leaving the house, or falling asleep, see a therapist. Cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and exposure therapy are proven ways of overcoming anxiety, negative thought patterns, and irrational thoughts.

When anxiety is an everyday struggle, talk to your doctor about medications.

In the Moment

Panic attacks may come out of nowhere—when you’re at school, doing grocery shopping, sitting at home, or sleeping. Having coping strategies will help you regain a sense of control when you feel all control is lost. Remind yourself that the feelings will pass, you’re safe, and there’s no real danger. Most panic attacks last around 10 minutes. Just knowing it will end soon can be helpful.

While the stress of a panic attack can cause you to take short, shallow breaths, remember that type of breathing can trigger feelings of panic. Deep breathing, on the other hand, helps your brain and body relax and calms your nervous system. When you feel panic coming on, relax your body, breathe in through your nose for five seconds, hold your breath for five seconds, breath out for five seconds, and wait five seconds. Unfortunately, some people find deep breathing worsens their symptoms. If this is the case, try these other techniques.

Refocus your mind on something besides your anxious thoughts. Start counting backward from 100 or count by threes. Imagine the most relaxing or happy place you’ve ever been. Name things you are thankful for. Repeat a comforting phrase in your mind or out loud over and over.

Use your five senses to ground you in the present and distract your mind. Name five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.

Try muscle relaxation techniques. Start with the top of your head and work your way down to the tip of your toes. Tense each muscle for five seconds and then relax. Say the word relax out loud.

A fan of essential oils? Keep lavender essential oil nearby to smell when you’re feeling anxious. Lavender is known to help you relax, so put a dab of oil on your wrist or handkerchief.

It may seem your panic attacks are here to stay. But with these steps you can lessen the frequency and severity of your panic attacks and get back to life.

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