When you start to feel a panic attack coming on, it can be hard to know what to do. Your mind is racing and you’re looking for a way to stop it. This blog post will help you learn what you should do when you feel a panic attack coming on. If you are struggling with anxiety attacks or have recurring symptoms of anxiety, don’t hesitate to find the help you need by speaking to the specialists at Insyte Psychiatric in East Brunswick.
Signs Of An Oncoming Panic Attack
Panic attacks can come on suddenly and without warning, however, most panic and anxiety attacks have some preliminary warning signs. Recognizing and noticing these signs can help you avoid or minimize the attack and its effects.
There are many different types of panic attacks, but they all share the same signs.
Common Signs of a Panic Attack
- chest pain
- rapid breathing
- feelings of unreality
- increase heart rate or feeling of increased heart rate
- labored breathing
- shortness of breath
- stomach pains
The scariest part of having a panic attack is often the symptoms themselves. These physical symptoms are the result of a chemical reaction in the brain that is triggered by intense fear. Most attacks usually do not last very long and symptoms should subside after 10 minutes or less.
How To Stop A Panic Attack When You Feel It Coming On
Identifying a problem has great psychological importance. Saying it out loud reminds you that you are separated from this attack and that these attacks are temporary and will pass in a few minutes.
Recognize That You Are Not In Danger
The definition of a panic attack is the feeling of danger; it is your “fight or flight” mechanism triggering at the wrong time. Recognize that this is a feeling of danger, not an actual threat.
Take Deep Breaths
Shortness of breath often comes simply from taking shallow breaths during a panic attack. You can consciously combat this by taking slow and deep breaths. You can use the 4-4-4 method. Inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and exhale for 4 seconds. Deep breaths will send more oxygen into your body and help reinforce the idea that you are not in any immediate danger.
Sensation Focusing (Distraction Technique)
To reduce overstimulation and the overwhelming sense of helplessness that often accompanies a panic attack, some people use a sensation focus distraction technique. An easy way to remember this is the 5-4-3-2-1 method. Focus and find 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch/feel, 2 things you smell, and 1 thing you can taste.
Focus all of your attention on each sense and be actively involved in that focus point. The goal is not to get through all of the senses, but instead to be so focused that your anxious feelings fade away and disappear.
Be Mindful of Your Thoughts
It is expected to have negative and false thoughts racing through your mind during a panic attack. You may be convinced that the episode will last forever or that you will die. Do not let those thoughts spiral out of control. You can separate yourself from your thoughts by simply observing them and challenging their validity. Imagine your thoughts as a close friend sharing their worries and exaggerations. You can listen and address each thought one at a time and support your own recovery.