"I had a panic attack while in line to grab a bagel. It was terrifying, and I haven't returned to the restaurant since because I'm scared I'll have another while I'm there. It's been nearly two years, but I just can't make myself go back."
According to the Cleveland Clinic, 11% of Americans experience panic attacks yearly, and approximately 2-3% will develop panic disorder.
If you've ever experienced unexpected panic attacks, you know how frightening and all-consuming it can be. At the drop of a hat, it feels like your world has turned upside down - your thoughts spiral, your body feels strange, and you want the feeling to stop, but you fear it will never end.
This blog uncovers the symptoms of panic disorders. It also shares panic attack treatment options, grounding techniques, mantras, and positive affirmations that help with severe anxiety and associated issues, like heart palpitations, rapid breathing, chest pain, and intense fear.
Let's get started reading!
There is no time or place for panic attacks, as they can worsen any situation. Sometimes, the comfort of our homes can help us feel safer versus a public environment, but neither is ideal and knowing how to ground yourself from panic can help reduce the length and severity of an attack.
Unexpected panic attacks are the main feature of panic disorder. But they can happen alongside other conditions, such as:
Many mental health conditions can cause panic attacks. It can be sudden, intense fear caused by apparent reason. Some people who experience cognitive behavioural therapy develop a strong sympathetic nervous system. Treat your mental health condition before it worsens and becomes compulsory to have medical care.
Before discussing the solution for panic disorder, it is necessary to know "What are the panic symptoms of a panic attack"?
Panic attack symptoms tend to be intense and exhausting. It’s not uncommon for people to fear having a heart attack or stroke. Understanding the critical warning signs of anxiety disorder is essential for you and your loved ones.
It might come on suddenly with little to no warning. A panic attack usually lasts around 30 minutes, with a peak in less than 10 minutes. Common panic attack symptoms include:
Panic attack symptoms sound reminiscent of anxiety because anxiety and panic attacks overlap emotional and physical symptoms. If not grounded, anxiety attacks can sometimes turn into panic attacks.
Researchers don't know what causes panic attacks, but certain risk factors can prime the body to activate the fight or flight response wrongly. People with anxiety disorders may be more susceptible to experiencing panic attacks. A major life change can increase your likelihood of experiencing a panic attack.
Your healthcare provider can help you identify triggers that bring anxiety or panic attacks. During exposure therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, you learn techniques to address any triggering event and prevent any stressful situation, like compulsive disorder, real danger, abdominal distress, etc. You can follow a mental health professional to lower your risk of having panic attacks caused by certain situations.
Even though you can't stop recurrent panic attacks as soon as medical conditions start, there are panic attack treatment options you can take to deal with these recurrent panic attacks.
Panic attack causes rapid breathing, making you feel more scared. During a panic attack, breathing exercises can help ease the signs of fear. Take deep, slow breaths through your nose and slow, deep breaths through your mouth. Shut your eyes and pay attention to how you're breathing.
Knowing that you're having a panic attack or simple social anxiety disorder can help you deal with your overwhelming fear. Remember that the anxious thoughts of panic disorders are short-term and will end soon.
A panic attack triggers your muscles and it may get tight. Focus on relaxing one group of muscles at a time to lower stress and stay in the moment.
A panic attack can make you feel like you're not in your body or touch with reality. Focusing on the present moment will help you bring your thoughts back to the present and settle yourself.
If you have panic attacks often, getting medical help, such as medicine and therapy, is essential.
Here are some tried techniques our healthcare provider suggests following for quick recovery.
A toolbelt of grounding techniques can help you feel more in control of anxiety and panic attacks.
You've probably heard of the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique if you've ever experienced or read up on panic attacks. This technique brings you back into the present moment by acknowledging your surroundings through the power of your senses and helping your brain recognize where you are.
Look around and notice five things you can see in your present environment. Maybe it's a pencil, a framed piece of art on your wall, or a car parked on your street. Pick five objects around you and acknowledge their presence.
Notice four things you can feel. Touch the fabric of your shirt or the hem of your pants. Squeeze a soft pillow or a blanket. Pet your cat or dog and feel their coat under your hands. You can even touch your skin or hair.
Listen to the noises around you. Acknowledge the hum of the ceiling fan. The birds or crickets outside (depending on the time of day). Or the faint sound of the television in the other room.
You might need to get up and move around for this, but find something soothing to smell. It could be a candle, perfume bottle, or even the hand soap in your bathroom.
The scent of lavender can be very calming. Consider getting a lavender candle or aromatherapy oils as a panic attack treatment solution!
If you need something nearby to taste (or want to avoid tasting anything), think about your favorite food or drink. Maybe it's the sandwich from your local deli, the delicious bitterness of your morning coffee, or the pumpkin pie your grandma made every Thanksgiving. Focus on the taste and textures of that food or drink.
If you live with roommates or a loved one, consider teaching them this easy-to-remember grounding technique so they can help you during a panic attack. You can also write it down on a flashcard or in a note on your phone for a quick reminder.
Amid a panic attack, your thoughts might move very fast, jumping from one thing to the next. Your body is in fight or flight mode, your hands are clammy, and the weight of the "impending doom" can feel like you're going to die. All of this can feel overwhelming, and it can feel challenging to bring yourself back into reality.
Our words and how we speak to ourselves are powerful, but they can also help ground us when it feels like we're spiraling out of control.
Repeat mantras and positive affirmations that remind you you are safe:
Whether you say the above aloud or in your head depends on what works best for you.
Write these affirmations down and have them easily accessible on your phone's notes app or stowed in your purse or wallet.
The 4-7-8 breathing technique helps to regulate and calm your breathing through long, deep, rhythmic breaths. This method is easy to remember and can even help you sleep.
If you haven't tried this technique before, we encourage you to practice while you're grounded since it can cause lightheadedness.
For some, there is seemingly no direct trigger for their panic attacks. Regardless, it can be helpful to acknowledge any circumstances that are increasing anxiety in your life and work to lower traumatic stress disorder.
Panic attacks can lead to panic disorder, a condition characterized by ongoing anxiety about when the next episode will strike. Panic disorder may cause you to isolate or avoid attending certain events or locations. Over time, it may seriously compromise your quality of life.
If you struggle with frequent panic attacks, we encourage you to contact your doctor or mental healthcare professional to discuss treatment options, including therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Grounding techniques are helpful, but you don't need to suffer alone. Panic attacks may not be entirely avoidable, but specific steps can mitigate or reduce their intensity.
🔍 Have you learned effective ways to lower or better manage your panic attacks?
We'd love for you to share tips that have worked for you with our community!