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How To Come Down From An Anxiety Attack

Identify A Point Person

How To Calm Down During A Panic Attack

Annette said that one of the things that has helped her through attacks is having what she calls a panic attack point person. This may be your therapist, a family member or spouse, or a good friend. Whoever it is, this person should be familiar with your anxiety history, and should be someone you feel you can rely on.

It’s important to have people in your life who don’t judge you and know what works for you when you are having an episode, says Annette, a 43-year-old woman in Oregon who has been diagnosed with panic disorder. I’m so lucky to have a couple people who are always there for me and treat me with respect and dignity when I need it most.

Knowing The Signs Of An Anxiety Attack

The first anxiety attack someone has usually catches them off guard. The signs of an attack are often so intense that the person does not know how to react at the time. Since they become more anxious about being anxious, symptoms worsen. Many tend to think that they are having a heart attack or a stroke.

An anxiety attack can sneak up on you, and the symptoms can hit you quickly. Knowing what the signs are will make it easier for you to calm down. Some signs of an anxiety attack include shortness of breath or heavy breathing when thinking about a particular scenario. Sounds seem louder, and lights seem brighter than the norm. The heart may beat very fast or irregularly. Many people suffering from anxiety attacks experience dissociation, feeling as if they are watching themselves from outside their bodies.

When someone is anxious, they may display an extreme change in emotion, such as an unstoppable need to cry, scream, laugh, or yell. The person may need to get away from an uncomfortable situation immediately, even if it results in losing a job or ruining a relationship. Physically, someone having an anxiety attack can have an uncontrollable shaking or other movements of a hand, foot, or another body part.

In many cases, those who suffer from severe anxiety worry about having a panic attack. This condition can escalate the symptoms and bring on an anxiety attack. Learning coping mechanisms from therapy can stop anxiety before it even starts is extremely important.

Panic Attack Treatment And Prevention

Cognitive behavioral therapy and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are the first-line, evidence-based treatments for anxiety. These treatments can be used separately or in combination.

Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on identifying and addressing anxiety-related thoughts and behaviors. It often involves meeting with a therapist weekly and practicing hands-on strategies each day to manage anxious thoughts and behaviors.

SSRIs are taken daily and can help adjust levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain, which can affect mood and anxiety. There are many types of SSRIs. A medication provider will determine which one is best for you and will meet with you regularly to monitor benefits and side effects.

Duval doesnt recommend avoidance strategies or using substances such as drugs or alcohol to cope with or abstain from anxious feelings or panic attacks. Incorrect use of substances, including prescriptions, can interfere with relationships and work.

It is a way to mask or avoid the anxiety were not giving ourselves ways to manage it that are going to decrease it long term, Duval says.

Instead, she suggests finding strategies to manage the attacks or reduce the anxiety around having a panic attack.

The challenge is that oftentimes the more we try to prevent something, the more it will happen, Duval says. A big part of managing anxiety and panic is finding ways to face it.

Also Check: How To Get Over Health Anxiety

What Do Panic Attacks Feel Like

During a panic attack, physical symptoms can build up very quickly. These can include:

  • a pounding or racing heartbeat
  • feeling faint, dizzy or light-headed
  • feeling very hot or very cold
  • sweating, trembling or shaking
  • pain in your chest or abdomen
  • struggling to breathe or feeling like you’re choking
  • feeling like your legs are shaky or are turning to jelly
  • feeling disconnected from your mind, body or surroundings, which are types of dissociation.

During a panic attack you might feel very afraid that you’re:

  • losing control
  • going to die.

When Might I Have Panic Attacks

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Panic attacks happen at different times for everyone. Some people have one panic attack then don’t ever experience another, or you might find that you have them regularly, or several in a short space of time. You might notice that particular places, situations or activities seem to trigger panic attacks. For example, they might happen before a stressful appointment.

Most panic attacks last between 5 to 20 minutes. They can come on very quickly. Your symptoms will usually be at their worst within 10 minutes. You might also experience symptoms of a panic attack over a longer period of time. This could be because you’re having a second panic attack, or you’re experiencing other symptoms of anxiety.

“My panic attacks seem to come out of the blue now. But in fact, they seem to be triggered mainly at night when I want to go to sleep but cannot stop my mind racing, experiencing worry and panic about anything that may be on my mind.”

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Ways For How To Calm Down When Anxiety Strikes

Anxiety is a terrible feeling. Your heart races. Your mind races even faster. You feel like all of the problems that have been hovering at the back of your mind suddenly need to be dealt with all at once. You imagine terrible things happening even though there’s no good reason to think that they are. You panic.

How can you deal with this awful feeling when it creeps up on you. Here are ten ways to help yourself calm down when you’re feeling anxious:

  • Identify the true cause of your anxiety. Most of the time, there’s something that we’re worried about that lies beneath the thing that we think is causing us to be anxious. If you are skilled at figuring yourself out then you might be able to determine what’s really going on. For example, you’re sitting by the phone waiting for your boyfriend to call and you’re feeling completely anxious and you’re sure that something horrible has happened to him or he’s out on a date with someone else or … that’s what you think is causing the anxiety but what is really causing the anxiety could be that you’ve been feeling unsafe in this relationship and you’re not sure where it’s going. Although there’s still a problem to be dealt with, you are able to recognize that it needs to be dealt with in a different way and that it’s not the phone call that you’re anxious about. This can reduce the immediate feeling of anxiety.
  • Make Use Of The Schools Mental Health Services

    Your school has additionally services available to you if need be. For example, if youre experiencing high anxiety during tests, theres likely a separate room you can go to take tests. You likely have a guidance counselor, maybe even a mental health sector, and caring adults surrounding you at any given time. Take advantage of this.

    If you need to talk to someone, do it. Dont bottle up your emotions and anxiety, as this is only going to make your anxiety worse. Teachers and counselors are there to help you learn and to help you grow as an individual. They arent just adults standing at the front of a classroom who dont give two cares about you. So, reach out to them in times of need. Youll be surprised at how helpful this is. Teachers are full of words of wisdom that can put you and your mind back on track.

    Read Also: What Does Anxiety Do To Your Body

    The Question Is When Do Anxiety Symptoms Go Away

    So, Im often asked this question when Ive had a client whos come to see me and they may have booked in several sessions, a week apart, say.

    Its usually around week four, week five, theyre starting to feel better within themselves and some of the anxiety symptoms are falling away but then these doubts to start to creep in about the longevity of the healing, what to do when anxiety symptoms come back and often, people report this feeling of two steps forward, one step back.

    So they say, I was feeling so great and I was doing so well and then something happened and I had a panic attack.

    Or, I just woke up this morning feeling absolutely terrible and I dont understand why when I was feeling so great.

    So, its that doubt and the impatience that people have.

    They start to get a glimpse of what its like to feel well again and to have a life without anxiety and so it could feel really disconcerting when youre doing great, youre doing really well and then suddenly, your old enemy, anxiety, pops up again usually in the most inconvenient of times and places.

    But I want to say: Its so completely natural, completely normal.

    Anxiety recovery hardly ever happens in a step by step, linear sequence and in fact, Id go so far as to say that the two steps forward, one step back thing is an important part of the recovery and its a really good opportunity when the symptoms resurface again to putting to play what youve learned to manage those symptoms.

    What Is An Anxiety Attack


    Dr. David H. Barlow, Professor of Psychology at Boston University and the director of the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders and Clinical Programs and Boston University, points out that each year people go to the emergency room believing they are having a heart attack.

    These can be incredibly uncomfortable and the sufferer can feel like they are going to die or are going crazy. Therefore, the simple fact of informing them that none of these things is going to happen can give them some relief.

    However, knowing what youre dealing with is always helpful. Likewise, studies such as the one carried out by researchers at Harvard University show that almost 27% of the population will suffer an anxiety attack at some point. In many cases, these can become recurrent until they completely alter the quality of life of the patient.

    Anxiety attacks, also known as panic attacks, are intense reactions that cause a loss of control of some bodily functions. As this publication from the Medical Journal of Costa Rica and Central America points out, symptoms include:

    • Tachycardia
    • Dizziness, nausea, or stomach discomfort
    • Fear or panic

    Anxiety attacks, which vary in degrees of severity, are triggered by catastrophic thoughts. They often come on quickly, which is why its so important to become familiar with these tips so you can start treating an attack as soon as possible.

    Recommended Reading: How To Help A Teenager With Social Anxiety

    Panic Attacks I Turned My Mental Health Crisis Into A Mental Health Triumph

    Although it’s taken me a long time I have learned I am a strong person who has the potential to help others.

    You might find that you become scared of going out alone or to public places because you’re worried about having another panic attack. If this fear becomes very intense, it may be called agoraphobia. See our pages on types of phobia for more information.

    I felt like I couldn’t breathe, I just wanted to get out, to go somewhere else, but I couldn’t because I was on a train.

    Panic Attacks And Panic Disorder

    Panic disorder is characterized by repeated, unexpected panic attacks, as well as fear of experiencing another episode. Agoraphobia, the fear of being somewhere where escape or help would be difficult in the event of a panic attack, may also accompany a panic disorder. If you have agoraphobia, you are likely to avoid public places such as shopping malls, or confined spaces such as an airplane.

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    Other Risk Factors For Developing Anxiety

    In addition to these primary causes of an anxiety disorder, there are other risk factors that can contribute. These include:

    • Severe stressors: These include financial ruin due to job loss or losing a loved one on whom you heavily depended.
    • Certain personality types: These include Type A personalities and perfectionists.
    • Gender: Women are twice as likely to have generalized anxiety disorder as men.
    • Underlying medical conditions: These include chronic pain, respiratory conditions, gastrointestinal disorders and heart disease.
    • Everyday stressors: These include more minor stressors like a hectic schedule or dealing with an unruly child. Such factors can build up without proper self-care.

    Calming Step : Have A Script Ready

    5 Ways to Calm Yourself During an Anxiety Attack

    A panic attack can fill your head with racing, negative thoughts, which can keep the panic going and make you feel worse. But you can wield a powerful weapon against them: A script of positive thoughts.

    Write down encouraging words you can read to yourself during a panic attack, Dr. Josell says. Your script should answer the negative thoughts. So if you feel like youre going to pass out, tell yourself you wont. If you feel like youre dying, tell yourself you wont die from a panic attack. The words you hear are powerful, and over time, they become your truth.

    Ideally, write your script when youre feeling calm. Tuck it in your pocket or purse or type it into your smartphone notes so its easy to access.

    If youre in the middle of a panic attack and dont have your script, you can fight negative thoughts on the fly. Try repeating in your mind or out loud phrases like, Im strong, and I can handle this, or This is only temporary, and it will pass.

    Your script helps you deal with an attack that arises, but its a preventive measure, too. It can calm your fear of having another panic attack because you know youre in control. The more confident you are that you can manage a panic attack, the less likely you are to have future attacks.

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    Try The File It Mind Exercise

    The File It technique works particularly well if youre lying awake at night thinking of all the things you have to do or havent done, or if youre rehashing something that happened during the day.

    These are the steps for performing this exercise:

  • Close your eyes and imagine a table with file folders and a file cabinet on it.
  • Imagine yourself picking up each file and writing down the name of a thought thats racing through your mind for example, the fight you had with your spouse, the presentation you have to give tomorrow at work, or the fear you have of getting sick with COVID-19.
  • Once the name is on the file, take a moment to acknowledge the thought and how important it is to you. Then, file it away.
  • Repeat this process with every thought that pops into your head until you start to feel calmer
  • The idea with this exercise is that youre taking a moment to name your triggers, examine them, and then consciously put them aside with a deadline to tackle them later. In other words, youre validating your own feelings and making a plan to deal with them, one by one, when its a better time.

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