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What To Do During a Panic Attack and How To Regain Control

What To Do During a Panic Attack and How To Regain Control

There's no perfect formula for how to stop a panic attack, and it's not your job to bring the attack to an end; that will happen no matter what you do.

Your job now is to control what you can and make yourself more comfortable, while you wait for the panic attack to end.

This article contains some pratical tips on how to bring back your sense of control during a panic attack and find comfort in the difficult time.

Belly Breathing

First things first, the easiest and most effective thing you can do is belly breathe, also known as diaphragmatic breathing. Once you can gain control over your breath, you can then hopefully regain control over your physical body.

Most people don't know that the increased rate of breathing during a panic attack causes most of your symptoms like an increased heart rate and body tightness. Through belly breathing, your diaphragm is able to give space to your lungs so they can fully expand and fill with air.

Close your mouth, and breathe in slowly through your nostrils. Visualize your belly filling with air as your inhale deeply as you push your belly outwards.  Then slowly exhale through slighly parted lips, with your exhale lasting just as long as your inhale. 

So remember to belly breathe and slow down your breath! Your goal should be less than 18 inhales/exhales a minute. 


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Kava Root Extract for Panic Attacks

It might be a good idea to keep an over the counter anxiety medication like kava to calm you down in case you have a panic attack. Kava is a great option for those who have struggle with overcoming anxiety but don't want to deal with going to the doctor. Kava also has fewer side effects and no risk for addiction, unlike benzodiazepines. 

Kava Root has been clinically proven to bind onto various receptors in the amygdala that regulate feelings of fear and anxiety, and in turn promotes calmness, relaxation, and a sense of well-being.

1Hour Break® is a high quality kava extract that can help ease you into a more calm state of mind. You can instantly feel the calming, soothing effects after spraying it in your mouth like old-school Binaca. Learn more on how to stop an anxiety attack with kava.

Talk to Yourself

Talk to yourself (silently) about what is happening, and what you need to do. One question to ask yourself is this: is it Danger or Discomfort? Some of the other responses include:

  1. Fine, let's have an attack! It's a good chance to practice my coping techniques.
  2. Answer your "what if...?" fears by saying "So what? I'll get afraid, then calm down again."
  3. It's okay to be afraid.

Get Involved in the Present

People don't panic in the present. People panic when they imagine something bad happening to them in the future or in the past. This is why your panic attacks are almost always accompanied by some "what if...?" thought.

If a dog just bit my leg, I don't say "what if a dog bites me?". The reason you say "what if...?" is because what you fear is not actually happening!

Get back into the activity you were engaged in prior to the attack, and become involved with the people and objects around you. If you're in a store, resume shopping, reading labels, comparing prices, asking questions, etc. It will move you closer to your goal of overcoming anxiety when you bring your focus and energy back to the present environment. By this I mean, work with what is around you.

Work with Your Body

Identify, and relax, the parts of your body that get most tense during a panic attack. This typically involves first tensing, and then relaxing, the muscles of your jaw, neck, shoulders, back and legs. Do not allow yourself to stand rigid, muscles tensed, and holding your breath. That just makes you feel worse! If you feel like you "can't move a muscle", go back to step 1 and belly breathe.

With these techniques, you can transform the panic state into something thats manageable. By calming your breathing, you in turn lower your heart rate. By positively talking to yourself, you stop the negative loop that brought on the panic attack in the first place. By living in the present, you practice mindfulness. And by listening and working with your body, you can regain control of your physical sense. 

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About the Author

Allison Lardizabal, RN

Allison Lardizabal, RN

As an ER nurse, I helped people through some of their most difficult and vulnerable times in their lives, providing me invaluable insight on what really matters most. This led me on another path where I stepped away from my clinical practice to pursue other dreams; to live life on my own terms; and be more intentional with my time.

More posts by Allison Lardizabal, RN >

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