How to Stop a Panic Attack?
How to Stop a Panic Attack
Controlling and stopping panic attacks is a technique that has to be learnt. You are unlikely to be successful the first few times you try to stop them as you have to put the time and effort into practising how to stop them. You have to think that in the future when you will undoubtedly have more panic attacks, each panic attack give you a chance to practice how to stop them. Whatever you read on the internet there is no magic pill that will stop them over night, let me make that clear.
There is something you should always have in your mind that NOBODY HAS EVER DIED OF A PANIC ATTACK. No matter how ill you feel, no matter what thoughts are going through your head nothing is going to happen to you. It’s only when you believe this and no longer fear the panic attack then you truly start to recover.
I fully support Claire Weekes books. The more you accept the attack the less powerful it is. Claire was a pioneer in anxiety, panic disorder, etc. I call her the fairy godmother of panic attacks. Her books gave me great comfort at the start of my recovery. You can find more about her here. I would thoroughly recommend her book Self Help for Your Nerves: Learn to relax and enjoy life again by overcoming stress and fear . When you start to panic you must let your body go as relaxed, loose and floppy as possible. Most people tense their body so much that they cannot breathe. Once I realized that the more I fought the panic attack the worse it was, this was an amazing breakthrough in my recovery.
A basic guide would be -
- Live in the moment and go about your daily activity as normal. Do not start worrying about future events which may trigger a panic attack.
- You may carry around anxiety most of the day but don’t let this bother you. Try to stay positive and think happy thoughts; this will diminish over time once the panic attacks are under control.
- Once you’re in a situation where you feel a panic attack coming on DO NOT RUN AWAY. This will reinforce the behaviour and tell your mind there is something to be afraid of. Stay in the situation, (if it’s possible) there is no harm it’s just your mind playing tricks on you. Tell yourself that you have nothing to worry about. Try relaxation, breathing and distraction as per my previous articles, but if you can’t seem to apply these tools then simply try and think thoughts that induce a nice warm feeling inside your body.
- Try to be as calm as possible and let your body go floppy.
- The most important thing is not to fight the attack but to laugh at the feeling and sensation and to totally ACCEPT it. It’s a bit like the harder you through a rubber ball at a wall the harder it will come back. Panic attacks are like this, the more you fight against it the worse it will be.
- This is a good time to write any thoughts that are going through your mind because you will need to challenge these thoughts when you’re calmer to bring about long term change. For me, standing in a queue was torture for me. I would dread beforehand the thought of being in one. I would think I’m going to start shaking with fear and people will notice? Where are the escape routes? etc. These are the kind of thoughts you need to challenge. Also distraction can be a great way of short circuiting the panic attack. Instead of thinking negatively you can use this situation to think how I’m going to redecorate my room, or what team selection would I pick for my favourite football team. Use everyday situations as a way of bettering yourself in positive way, rather than fearing it. Just think I’m going to use this chance to show just how deep I can relax. As I have stated before breathing, relaxation and distraction can help to reduce the panic symptoms.
Hyperventilation deserves a special mention. It’s one of the symptoms which causes the most powerful sensations, for me the worst being palpitations. It was the scariest sensation for me and I’m glad to say I very rarely get them now. If I do I just ignore them and they go away. Breathing is something that you can take over from your body and regulate that said; if your panic reaches such a high level you will not be able to breathe deeply in a relaxed way. Some people advocate breathing in a bag to stop yourself over breathing (hyperventilation), this will help to stop you breathing in too much oxygen thus reducing the symptoms.
In my opinion if it works for you use it, but it’s just a way of coping rather than solving the issue. It’s much better if you use longer term strategies of changing your thoughts patterns to stop panicking. You will find as you become more relaxed and less fearful about situations, (REMEMBER THE PANIC ATTACK ITSELF CANNOT HARM), your breathing will naturally become easier.
Keep telling yourself nothing disastrous will happen. You probably have suffered panic attacks many times and you have always come through the other side before and felt better again. Panic is not designed to go on forever. It just meant to be a short term feeling to help you to fight or run from a situation. As long as you don't add fuel to the fire by telling yourself anxious thoughts the panic attack will naturally go of its own accord.
Do you remember your history lessons when sailors thought the world was flat and if they sailed too far they would fall off the edge of the earth. They were of course fearful of this. By sailors actually sailing into the sunset and proving the world was round and there were other exciting new worlds to discover, means that today we no longer fear this anymore. Panic attacks are like this, If you stand your ground and start describing the symptoms and why there happening (i.e. rapid heartbeat is because of the adrenaline – you’re not having a heart attack), you start to reduce the fear. If you describe your panic attack as its happening and start taking it apart because you have the knowledge, you can see it for what it really is, NOTHING, JUST A FALSE ALARM. By standing your ground and observing you are not giving into the fear and you can start learning from the experience to better equip yourself for the next one.
Actually hope for another panic attack because they will give you the experience to move forward. Eventually you will find that you will not be able to have a panic attack because you simply do fear it anymore. If you don’t ‘feed’ the panic with anxious thoughts then the panic attack will switch off quicker, and it will simply have no power over you.
Finally, challenging your thoughts is the key to overcoming anxiety. For whatever reason you started to have very negative thought patterns you need to change these to bring about long term recovery.
What did you find as the best way of stopping a panic attack in its tracks............. ??
Books Self Help for Your Nerves: Learn to relax and enjoy life again by overcoming stress and fear One of the first books I read on panic attacks and still one of the best. I would say if your going to read any book first, read this one. First published in the 1960's its been updated many times, but some of the best modern-day books still have the same principles running through them. For first aid for a panic attack this is still the best book out there in my opinion. For a programme for recovery its not the best as we know far more on what contributes to panic attacks and how to cure them. For its time its was revoloutionary. Claire Weeks has sadly passed away but she did recordings and other books as well - Click Here . If you would like to read my post on Claire Weekes Life and Books Click Here
Understanding Panic Attacks: and Overcoming Fear A very thorough and popular book on panic attacks. The book is easy to read and has a lot of common sense techniques. It gives a great deal of information on the back ground leading to panic attacks and goes behind the biology of panic attacks. It focuses on cognitive behavioural therapy tools to help you and a lot of the practical advice I advocate is in this book. Panic Attacks: What they are, why the happen, and what you can do about them: What They Are, Why They Happen and What You Can Do About Them A book thats over ten years old but the same principles apply to day as they did then. A good book that covers what to do whilst having a panic attack and an interesting chapter on how to help others with panic attacks. It has some useful tips and will be helpful for anyone suffering with panic attacks, anixiety and agrophobia. Anxiety and Panic Attacks - Their Cause and Cure An Amercian book and definately one of favourites. Fun, easy to read and has a stepped program to recovery. This book taught me some things I did'nt know about panic attacks and is written by someone who has gone through it. The author has also set up a very useful organisation that helps people recover. The book was written in 1993 but everything is still completly relevant. How to Stop Anxiety & Panic Attacks: A Simple Guide to using a specific set of Techniques to Stop Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia, Social Phobia, Fear of Driving or Flying and Stress Written by a fellow panic attack sufferer who really has a personable approach to panic attacks. The book really goes in depth in the emotional and psychological factors. The description of panic disorder was exactly how I felt and you can definately feel empathy with how he describes the struggles involved. Geert (the author) also has produced good videos on you tube and a helpful program at ilovepanicattacks. Highly recommended.
Free Yourself From Anxiety: A self-help guide to overcoming anxiety disorders A book with a very caring attitude for anxious people with some great case studies of people who have various anxiety related issues. Lots of sensible, useful and practical information you can apply to everyday life.
Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway: How to Turn Your Fear and Indecision into Confidence and Action . One of the frist books I read in my recovery. Its very popular book. Even though its not really designed for panic attack sufferers, the information is still very relative. How you live your life and lifestyle is crucial to overcoming fear.
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