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How to cope with panic attacks

1. Recognise that panic attacks are a mind state and not a physical risk. A panic attack can be a very frightening and uncomfortable experience. However, it doesn’t indicate a real physical risk – even although it feels that way.

2. Try to grasp that you are not alone. Panic attacks are relatively common. They’re an anxiety disorder that many other people share.

3. Understand what panic is. Panic is excess adrenaline running through your body when it is confronted with a possible life-threatening situation. It can also be triggered by something that reminds you of a threatening event in your past. Feelings of panic can be very scary, but the feelings are related to your past – not to a threat in the present. Even although you feel terrified, you are not in any real danger.

4. Go and see a doctor or counsellor. Sometimes people find anti-anxiety medication helps them cope with panic attacks. However, identifying the psychological root – and then getting help in dealing with that – is the most effective treatment approach.

5. Let others close to you know that you suffer from panic attacks. People who have never experienced a panic attack may find it hard to understand what you are going through. However, you can help them with this by sharing your difficult experiences with them. In fact, many people want to help those they love – but they don’t know what to say or do. Thus, if you can be more open with them, then they can reach out and offer you support.

6. Don’t avoid those situations which have led to a panic attack in the past. Avoidance will only ‘reinforce’ the disorder … So the more you avoid the dreaded situation the more panic the avoided situation generates. Should a panic attack occur, don’t attempt to fight the feelings. Instead, allow the feelings to wash over you … and then drain away. Focus on staying in the present moment.

7. Focus on slowing your breathing down. This help to ensure that your brain is receiving the appropriate amount of oxygen. That will help reduce your anxiety levels, and the panic attack will dissipate and end.

Filed under panic attacks mood disorders counselling psychology therapy anxiety mental health mental illness self help self improvement online counselling college

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