Did you know that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the United States? After all, it affects about 40 million people aged 18 and older each year. That’s equivalent to about 18.1% of the entire country’s population.
This type of disorder is highly-treatable, but only about 37% of the afflicted receive any form of treatment. If you’re suffering from these disorders, you need to start educating yourself on how to stop a panic attack. That way, you’ll maintain your mental stability before your next therapy session.
Panic attacks are often sudden and intense, overwhelming you with fear, panic, and anxiety. This condition will often have both physical and emotional symptoms. In most cases, you’ll find it difficult to breathe and you start sweating a lot.
But severe cases will make your chest hurt so much that you feel detached from reality. That will often make you think like you’re experiencing a heart attack. It’s a scary situation that can hit you without warning.
Here are some of the things that you can do on how to stop a panic attack. You can also read this guide about the five main types of anxiety disorders for more information.
- Use Deep Breathing
Hyperventilating is one of the most common symptoms of panic attacks. This can make the feeling of fear more intense. To reduce the panicked feeling during an attack, you need to start with deep breaths.
If you have the means of controlling your breath, you become unlikely to start experiencing hyperventilation. Without this symptom, the other signs of a panic attack will not get worse. You can start by focusing on taking deep breaths through your mouth, in and out.
You need to start feeling the air fill your chest and belly, letting it leave slowly. Try breathing in while counting to four. Hold it for a second and breathe out within another four seconds.
- Recognize Your Panic Attack
If you know the difference between a panic attack and a heart attack, you’ll have more presence of mind. You have the means of assuring yourself that it’s a temporary situation. It will pass soon, and you’ll get better.
You need to sweep away the fear that you’re dying and that you’ll soon meet your doom. That will take away these panic attack symptoms within a few moments. With that, you’ll get to focus on the other techniques and reduce your symptoms.
- Close Your Eyes
In some cases, your panic attacks will come from triggers that make you feel overwhelmed. It gets worse if you’re in a fast-paced environment. It’s easy to get overcome with the abundance of stimuli.
To help reduce the stimuli assaulting you, try closing your eyes as your panic attack progresses. This will block off most of the things that can distract you. Without visual components, it will become easier to start with your breathing techniques.
- Practice Mindfulness
To help you stay grounded with your environment, you need to start being mindful. Panic attacks will often attempt to make you feel detached or separated from reality. Practicing this will fight off the panic attack, whether it’s starting up or in progress.
To start, you need to shift your focus on the physical sensations you’re most familiar with. For example, you can dig your feet into the ground or feel the texture of your jeans with your hands. Finding the right sensation will put you into the firm ground of reality, giving you something to focus on.
- Find a Focus Object
A lot of people find that focusing their attention to a single object helps them during panic attacks. A good way to start this practice is to look for an object that you can see without obstructions. Make a conscious note about it, like its features.
For instance, try noticing how a clock hand jerks while ticking, or that it’s a little lopsided. You can also describe the color, shape, patterns, and sizes of the objects. With your mind occupied with this object, you’ll soon notice that your panic attack stops.
- Use Muscle Relaxation Techniques
Muscle relaxation has a lot of similarities with deep breathing. It helps to stop your panic attack by maintaining control of your body’s responses. Do your best to relax a muscle at a time, starting with your fingers.
Once you gain control of this body part, work your way up through your entire body. But to make the most out of these techniques, you need to practice them regularly.
- Envision Your Happy Place
Ask yourself about the most relaxing places in the world your mind can think of. Is it a sunny beach, or a cabin in the mountains? Once you find the right place, project yourself there and try to focus on as many details as you can.
For example, if your happy place is the beach, try imagining yourself drinking some cool tropical drinks or swimming in the warm waters. Otherwise, if it’s the cabin, try taking in the smell of the pine trees and the warmth of your sweater.
Always go for places that give you peace and calm. Don’t go for the busy streets of New York or any other bustling urban areas. It doesn’t matter how much you’re in love with cities—go for something rustic and rural.
Panic attacks are frightening due to the suddenness and the intensity of emotions it brings. That’s why you need to learn how to stop a panic attack before it gets worse. This ensures that you won’t end up getting physical illnesses from this negative emotional condition. Most of all, seek help and get regular therapy sessions to address the root cause of your panic attacks.
It doesn’t end here. If you found this guide interesting and educational, feel free to read more of our posts and discover more tips and tricks today.