How to Manage a Panic Attack

Panic attacks are more common than you probably think, as they often accompany other mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety. They always occur unexpectedly and make you feel like you have to fight for every single breath. Intense feelings of fear and/or anxiety, heart palpitations, excessive perspiration, and a feeling of tightness in your chest or head are all common panic attack symptoms. The good news is that there is a number of ways to manage panic attacks and reduce their impact on your daily life, so with a little effort and luck you should be able to get your panic attacks under control.

Learn the diaphragmatic breathing technique
The most popular piece advice regarding anxiety and panic attack is to take deep, slow breaths, which is indeed quite helpful. However, you can take this practice one step further and learn to do diaphragmatic breathing, when it is your belly that is expanded after an inhale, not your chest. Once you feel a panic attack coming, start breathing diaphragmatically, making sure that your exhales are allowed a little more time than the inhales.

Avoid vitamin deficiencies
While all vitamins and microelements are important for your health and overall well-being, there is no underestimating the role of the B6 vitamin and iron in improving and maintaining your mental health. Iron and B6 help the body regulate its serotonin production, and in its turn, serotonin is crucial to your brain’s ability to “let go” of negative thoughts, deal with stress effectively, and generally feel calm and happy. Magnesium deficiency may also cause anxiety.

Try exercising
Obviously, it is not always possible to start exercising when you’re experiencing the onset of a panic attack. However, if you happen to be at home or have the opportunity to take a break from work or studies, exercising is a great way to deal with the panic attack. Researchers have found that just 20 minutes of exercise can reduce the symptoms of anxiety drastically. In addition, some scientists believe that exercising has a positive impact on the serotonin levels, so it could be even more beneficial for your mental health than we currently know.

Believe in yourself
This is not a technique that will help you deal with a panic attack immediately, but boosting your self-confidence is a great way of managing panic attacks on the long-term scale. The more confident you feel, the less likely your anxiety disorder is to take control over your thoughts and eventually lead to a panic attack. Focus on your strengths and positive experiences and use them to shut down the negative thoughts every time they pop into your mind. This process is definitely not easy and will take a long time, but the results are totally worth it.

Pick up a soothing hobby, such as coloring
Some people who suffer from panic attacks and anxiety choose coloring to be one of their weapons against the negativity in their minds. They explain that coloring helps them relax, forget their compulsion to worry about things, and just enjoy “living in the moment”. Given that the same effect is true about most hobbies that involve arts or crafts, you don’t necessarily have to become a “colorist” to enjoy the same effect.

Learn to do progressive muscle relaxation
When you’re anxious and about to experience a panic attack, your muscles are most likely tense because your body is preparing itself for the “fight or flight” scenario. Progressive muscle relaxation can help you identify the muscle groups that are the most likely to be tense when you’re anxious, and learn to gradually relax them. Start at the top of your body, relaxing your facial muscles first, then progress to the neck and shoulder, and go on until you reach your feet and toes.

Finally, always remember that you’re not really dying or facing any immediate dangers during a panic attack. You need to recognize that panic attacks are only in your head, and “embrace” your symptoms. Once you learn to accept your panic attacks, it will be much easier to manage them with any of the methods described above.