Suffering from a panic attack can be a very frightening experience. For long term sufferers, they can have a serious effect on mental health, well-being, and quality of life. Panic attacks can be a one-off, but are usually a regular symptom of an underlying anxiety disorder.
Regardless of frequency, you may want to know if there are ways how to stop an anxiety attack. Thankfully there are plenty of effective techniques and practices you can follow to overcome and manage the symptoms. There is no best way how to stop an anxiety attack, or way to stop panic attacks instantly, but you can learn how to stop panic attacks naturally and fast. If you can decipher the root cause of your anxiety, you can also learn how to avoid a panic attack naturally too. The best way to stop a panic attack is by not having one altogether.
What are Anxiety Attacks?
An anxiety attack is a feeling of complete and utter panic. The sensation usually overcomes you like a wave but may onset gradually. Symptoms usually include:
- Feeling faint, dizzy or confused.
- Tight chest, chest pains and difficulty breathing.
- Feeling sweaty or clammy.
- Sense of "impending doom".
- Tingling or numbness across the body.
- Ringing in the ears.
- Feeling of being out of body, or out of control.
There is no difference between a panic attack and an anxiety attack; both are the given names to the sudden, very unpleasant feeling of the collective symptoms listed above. Panic attacks usually last no more than 10 minutes, although it can seem much longer when experiencing one.
Panic attacks are usually triggered in specific situations that are related to a root anxiety issue. For example, someone who has social anxiety may have a fear of crowded places, they go out shopping and find themselves overwhelmed in a packed out shopping centre, a panic attack follows. The social anxiety is the disorder, the panic attack is a symptom, and the crowds of people are the trigger.
As such if you are having regular panic attacks, you may find that you have an underlying anxiety disorder.
Panic Attack Interventions.
There are 2 types of panic attack intervention, Psychotherapeutic and pharmacological.
Psychotherapeutic interventions refer to overcoming anxiety through the reprogramming of your thinking. A great example of this is the inducing of panic attacks in a controlled environment. This exposes the sufferer to their symptoms in a safe place, where they can become familiar with the feeling of a panic attack and learn to recognize the onset. Research shows that by undertaking this type of therapy regularly, you actually change your thought pattern in trigger situations, nullifying the flight or fight response that presents itself as panic attacks.
Pharmacological interventions refer to the use of pharmaceutical drugs to reduce anxiety by altering the chemical makeup of your brain. This is done through the use of medication such as diazepam which increases levels of serotonin in the brain. This works as an antidepressant, which in turn reduces anxiety. The long term effectiveness of using pharmaceuticals is unclear. It is conclusive that they do reduce the symptoms whilst medicated, although there is little to support their effectiveness of addressing and overcoming the root cause.
12 Ways to Stop Anxiety Attacks in its Tracks.
1. Recognize that you are having a panic attack.
Sometimes some simple recognition can offer instant relief from intruding panic attack. Looking at yourself from an outside perspective and speaking to your self can give some much-needed reassurance. If you are aware that what you're feeling is a panic attack and not something worse, you will find it easier to manage and overcome your symptoms.
2. Ground yourself.
Grounding yourself is the term given when you reconnect yourself to the earth through your body. The best way to do this is to slip your shoes off and feel the ground beneath you. This technique is both very calming and effective at distracting your mind from spikes in anxiety and panic.
Using visualisation techniques is an example of taking yourself away from the situation to reduce your anxiety. Visualisation works to stop panic attacks by imagining yourself in a happy or comfortable situation. This can be done by picturing yourself at a place you enjoy or feel comfortable. Visualising a loved one that brings you comfort can also help.
4. Have a glass of water.
Probably not the first thing that comes to mind when asking yourself "how can I stop my panic attack now", but having a cold glass of water is an effective way of centring yourself and bringing some clarity to your mind. If you can feel the early onset of a panic attack, having a glass of water can definitely help to stop it in its tracks.
5. Eat something sweet.
When your feeling lightheaded and dizzy from a panic attack, eating or drinking something sweet will quickly raise your blood sugar and help you to feel better. Enjoying something sweet like a chocolate bar is also tasty and enjoyable, a great way to lift your mood.
6. Close your eyes.
If you find yourself in a situation that is making you feel anxious and full of panic, closing your eyes and distancing yourself from your surroundings can help to stop a full-on panic attack from forming. This is a fantastic technique to practice when using visualisation to stop your anxiety attacks.
7. Focus on an object.
Finding yourself in a panic attack can have you feeling an overwhelming amount of thoughts racing through your mind. Focusing on a singular object and listing everything about it can take your mind away from your panic and reduce your symptoms.
8. Use muscle relaxation.
Tensing up your muscles and then relaxing them is effective at relaxing your whole body and your mind. To use this technique start by tensing any set of muscles such as your arms, contract them for 5 seconds, and relax them for 10, repeat this multiple times across different muscles in your body.
9. Repeat a mantra.
Repeating a mantra is a great way to reassure yourself during a panic attack. A mantra can be anything that helps you to cement truth in a situation. Simply repeating "I am okay, this feeling will pass" can greatly help stop a panic attack.
Exercise is a long-term technique for stopping panic attacks. Exercise reduces feelings of depression and anxiety by releasing mood-boosting endorphins. Regular exercise can also help you feel more confident that will give you the mindset to overcome adverse situations.
11. Herbal teas.
There are plenty of studies to support the effects of herbal teas for reducing anxiety. Regularly drinking teas such as chamomile and mint are excellent at calming your mind and reducing the chance of getting panicked and having an attack.
Practicing mindfulness techniques can be used as a long term preventative and is an answer to how to calm yourself down in a panic attack. Mindfulness is the art of being in the here and now, with no focus on the past or future, only the present. Practicing mindfulness can train your brain to stop thinking anxious thoughts, and is proven to reduce anxiety in those who partake in mindfulness training regularly. Meditation and yoga are examples of mindful practices.
How to Avoid Panic Attacks in the Future.
Finding yourself in a panic attack can be both uncomfortable and distressing. Using preventative techniques such as mindfulness, exercise and herbal teas are brilliant and natural ways to avoid suffering attacks further down the line. Avoiding the situations that trigger your anxiety is not a healthy solution. Consulting a professional is the best place to start when looking to reduce your anxiety at the source, and to avoid suffering from panic attacks in the future.