Panic attacks can strike when you least expect it. If you find yourself frequently overcome by panic and fear, there is a way out. Try these steps and you should be on your way to controlling or stopping panic attacks.
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- Rule out a physical cause. If you are experiencing your first panic attack, you should see a doctor. Panic sufferers may feel out of control, like they are losing their mind or even like they are having a heart attack. When this feeling is new, you should see a doctor. Make sure you aren’t having a heart attack.
- Know what your trigger is. Fear and panic are caused by different triggers in everyone. What is it that scares you? Finding the source of your fear is fundamental to determining what triggers your panic attacks. The trigger can be something as small a noise or a scent that subconsciously reminds you of the thing you fear. Once you recognize the trigger, you will be able to remove it from your life most of the time.
- Carry water with you. When you first start to feel the tension in your stomach that precedes a panic attack, try to sip cool water. Take small sips and breathe deep between sips. Sometimes just slowing down and giving your body something else to think about is enough to distract you from an attack.
- Tell someone. Do not suffer in silence. Panic attacks can be debilitating and will get worse over time if you do not do something. Tell someone you trust how you feel. Your loved ones may have noticed your reaction and may be able to help you identify triggers. They also may be able to help you focus and breathe when you feel an attack coming. Seek professional help if the attacks become too frequent or impair your ability to function.
- Practice letting your self feel in a controlled situation. Some panic sufferers find that what they are really afraid of is fear. If the feeling of fear is what debilitates you, you may need to practice letting your feelings be felt. Surround yourself with people and things that make you feel safe. With their help, practice feeling. Let your emotions free to react as they want. By becoming comfortable with feeling and emotions, you may be able to get your fear under control.
- Repeat a code phrase. You can insert a different type of trigger in your own mind to help combat a panic attack. Choose a code phrase that will help relax you. It can be something as simple as, “I can control my fear” to something specific to your individual fear like, “They can’t hurt me anymore.” Choose a phrase that empowers you. Repeat it to yourself several times a day, every day until it is part of you. Then when you feel the panic rising, repeat the phrase over and over as it calms you and gives you strength.
- Breathe to relax. Once a panic attack has begun, if none of the above works, you must simply breathe to get through it. Take slow breaths. Inhale and hold the breath, then exhale slowly. Keep breathing and focus only on breathing. Force all other thoughts from your mind and focus on the breath.
Panic attacks are scary, whether it is your first one or your hundredth. You can stop panic attacks. With some preparation and trust, you will be able to get panic attacks under control.