Panic attacks: Tips to manage symptoms and regain control

Panic attacks can be overwhelming and distressing, here are some effective strategies you can employ to regain control and manage them

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Shireen Shahnas

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Published: Fri 15 Sep 2023, 10:25 AM

Panic attacks comes like sudden episodes of fear and anxiety that can last for several minutes. They often occur without warning and can be accompanied by a range of physical symptoms, including a rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, trembling, and a feeling of impending doom. While panic attacks are distressing, they are not life-threatening, and they can be managed.

Here are some tips to help you overcome panic attacks.


1. Practice deep breathing

Deep, slow breathing is a powerful tool to calm the nervous system. Try the 4-7-8 technique: Inhale for a count of four, hold for a count of seven, and exhale for a count of eight. Repeat several times until you feel more relaxed.

2. Ground yourself

Grounding techniques can help you stay rooted in the present moment. Focus on your senses: Name five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.


3. Challenge negative thoughts

Panic attacks often come with irrational and catastrophic thoughts. Challenge these thoughts by asking yourself if there is any evidence to support them. Often, there isn't.

4. Progressive muscle relaxation

Tense and release muscle groups one by one to reduce physical tension. Starting with your toes and working your way up to your head can be effective.

5. Use positive affirmations

Create a list of positive statements or affirmations, such as "I am safe" or "This too shall pass." Repeat these statements to yourself during a panic attack to counter negative thoughts.

6. Visualize a calm place

Close your eyes and imagine a place where you feel safe and relaxed. Focus on the details of this place, such as the colours, sounds, and sensations. This can help distract your mind from panic.

7. Stay in the moment

Avoid thinking too far ahead or dwelling on the past. Instead, focus on the present moment and what you need to do to stay safe and calm.

8. Stay hydrated and avoid stimulants

Dehydration and stimulants like caffeine and nicotine can exacerbate anxiety. Drink water and avoid these substances, especially during high-stress times.

9. Reach out for support

Share your feelings with a trusted friend, family member, or therapist. Talking to someone you trust can provide comfort and reassurance.

10. Self-care and regular exercise

Prioritise self-care practices such as getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, and engaging in regular physical activity. Exercise can reduce overall anxiety levels.

11. Practice mindfulness and meditation

Mindfulness techniques and meditation can help you stay grounded and reduce the severity and frequency of panic attacks over time.

12. Seek professional help

If panic attacks are a recurring issue, consider consulting a mental health professional. They can provide you with tools and strategies to manage and overcome them effectively.

While panic attacks can be distressing, you have the power to regain control over them with these quick tips and techniques. If panic attacks persist or significantly impact your life, don't hesitate to seek professional help. With the right support and tools, you can overcome panic attacks and lead a calmer, more fulfilling life.

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