Staying Calm: Can You Avoid Panic Attacks?
Updated: Feb 5, 2021
When a panic attack hits, it feels like your world is spiraling out of control. These sudden feelings of fear and anxiety can wear on your body and mind, leaving you feeling exhausted. But can you avoid panic attacks altogether? With help from a mental and behavioral health professional, you can learn to spot a panic attack and calm yourself down.
How to Identify and Avoid Panic Attacks
A panic attack is the sudden onset of intense anxiety, fear, and a variety of physical symptoms. Unlike anxiety attacks, panic attacks can occur without a clear cause. Individuals who have panic attacks often may be diagnosed with a panic disorder. Some of the most common symptoms of panic attacks include:
Racing heart rate
Rapid or shallow breathing
Dizziness or light-headedness
Chills or feels of overheating
Numbness and tingling
Sensations of choking
It’s also common to feel a sudden loss of control or fear of dying. Some individuals will feel detached from reality during a panic attack, which can be frightening as well. If you’re experiencing panic attacks, it’s important to work with a mental and behavioral health professional. Behavioral therapy for anxiety can help you identify your panic triggers and learn tools for coping.
Since panic attacks often occur without a clear cause, it can be difficult or impossible to prevent them. However, you can work with a therapist to develop coping techniques to use when you feel the first signs of a panic attack. Here are some techniques that your counselor may suggest.
Identify the panic attack. One of the best steps you can take at the onset of a panic attack is to identify the situation. Remind yourself that you’re having a panic attack and that the symptoms will pass. When you tell yourself that you’re okay, you can take some of the fear out of the situation.
Breathe mindfully. As your heart races, your breathing rate may increase as well. Intentionally slowing down your breathing can help lessen the symptoms of the panic attack. Slow your breath down by inhaling deeply through your nose and exhaling slowly through your mouth, holding for one second in between. Focus on the sensation of the breath and the movement of your chest. Doing so can get your mind off the panic attack.
Repeat a mantra. Talk to your therapist about creating a mantra to repeat when a panic attack sneaks up on you. This can be a phrase like, “I am going to be okay,” “This moment is temporary,” or “I am calm.” Focusing on a mantra can keep you centered and help you calm down.
Practice visualization. When you feel your heart start racing, visualization can shift your mind to a calm situation. You might close your eyes and picture a soothing place in nature, such as a forest, meadow, or lakeshore. It can be helpful to visualize a familiar place that makes you feel comfortable. Once you imagine that location, your panic attack may start to subside.
Panic attacks can be overwhelming experiences. Resources like anxiety group therapy or individual counseling can help you develop healthy coping mechanisms, so you can stop panic attacks in their tracks. While it may take time to find calming techniques that work for you, these services can minimize panic’s role in your life.
If you’re experiencing occasional panic attacks or living with a panic disorder, the team at The Collective is here to help. From individual counseling to medication management, our offerings encompass our holistic approach to mental and behavioral health. Contact us today to learn more about our Denver counseling and coaching services.
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