How To Cope With A Panic Attack

Panic Attacks Are Terrifying And Can Come From Nowhere. But You Can And Will Survive Them.

How To Cope With A Panic Attack

People that make light of panic attacks have clearly never had one. They say things like “it’s all in your mind.” But they can be severe enough to fool paramedics into thinking someone is having a heart attack. If that doesn’t illustrate how serious they are then I don’t know what will.Yes, panic comes from the brain. But it activates an entire system that has serious physical and psychological effects. Yes, it is in the brain, but your brain is triggering an ancient fear response. It’s signalling that you are in serious danger, when in fact you’re not. So if anyone tells you it’s all in your mind, tell them to get fucked.

“Unless you’ve suffered with panic attacks which is what I was diagnosed as having, it’s hard to explain” Donny Osmond

Symptoms Of A Panic Attack Include:

Intense feelings of anxiety, fear or panic

A racing heartbeat

Feeling Faint

Shortness of breath

Mental Confusion

Shaking hands/arms/legs

Dizziness

Tight chest Chills/ hot flushes

Dry mouth

Sweating

Pins and needles

Tingling fingers

Need to use the toilet

Ringing in the ears

Feelings of dread, like something terrible will happen

The time a panic attack lasts will vary. There’s no way of telling how long it will last or how severe it will be when it starts. And many people (including doctors) will tell you to avoid your triggers. But it’s not always that simple. If going outside is your trigger, you can’t really avoid it, can you? Avoiding your triggers isn’t always possible. So you need to know how to handle a panic attack when it happens.

What Can I Do About A Panic Attack?

Unfortunately, there’s no way to stop a panic attack in its tracks. But you can lessen the physical and psychological impact it has on you.

Don’t Fight It

Trying to pretend a panic attack isn’t happening is never going to work. You could just end up making things much worse for yourself. Don’t try to distract yourself from the panic attack. Focusing on things around the room can leave you overstimulated. Sensory overload can make a panic attack much worse. The last thing you need right now is more information going into your brain.

Try To Remember That It’s Not Life Threatening

I know it’s hard when you’re having a panic attack because it really does feel life threatening. But it will pass and you are not going to die. If you can, try telling yourself that you’re okay. Or ask someone to keep telling you. It might sound silly right now, but you’re not having a panic attack right now. Being told that you’re okay can actually be very calming.

Tell Someone

If there’s someone with you, tell them what’s happening. They need to know what’s happening. They might not be able to help you, but it can be nice to have someone there to reassure you.

Breathe Deeply And Slowly

Breathing might not sound like it will have much of an impact when you feel like you’re going to have a heart attack. But it can. Exhaling slowly has been shown to lower your heart rate. This might not make the panic attack stop, but it will make you feel slightly calmer.Breathe in slowly through your nose and out slowly through your mouth. Repeat this process until you feel more at ease with your surroundings.

Panic attacks completely remove your ability to think logically for a while. So you’re probably not going to remember any of this. Print it off or write it down, make a few copies and keep them in various places. Keeping one in your pocket means you’ll be able to take it out and look at it when a panic attack hits.

panic attacks
Claire Raymond
Claire Raymond
Read next: Never In the Cover of Night
Claire Raymond

I have been a writer for 14 years now, I'll figure it out one day.

See all posts by Claire Raymond