Health Blog

Helpful articles on mental and behavioral health

Blog

4 Powerful Steps To Overcome A Panic Attack

March 27, 2015

“All of a sudden, I felt a horrible wave of fear for no reason at all. My chest hurt and my heart was pounding. I was having a hard time breathing and it felt like I was going to die.” Every day, people experience panic attacks that cause extreme anxiety. Symptoms of panic attacks include rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness, and severe anxiousness. Most usually, panic attacks occur when a person feels a heightened sense of anxiety due to life stressors such as work, finances, or family issues. There are many ways to overcome panic attacks, including psychotherapy and medication. However, according to Dr. Patti McDermott, people can also follow a four step process – relax, stop negative thinking, use coping statements, and accept your feelings – to calm themselves before or during a panic attack.

Relax: Start by taking slow, deep, complete breaths to relax yourself. This will stop you from hyperventilating. As you do this, remind yourself that you are only feeling afraid and are not in danger. Continue to take slow, deep breaths until you feel your body start to relax. This will help to reduce the level of adrenaline in your system. Stop

Negative Thinking: Next, shout the word “STOP!” really loudly inside your head to stop the negative thoughts that are overwhelming you. During panic attacks, people are bombarded with an endless loop of catastrophic thoughts. Shouting “STOP!” will interrupt the emergency message that your brain is sending to your adrenal glands. This will allow you to interrupt the scary thoughts and replace with calming ones.

Use Coping Statements: When having a panic attack, you may be saying something in your head like “I’m going to die” or “I don’t know what to do!” After you shout the word, “STOP!” immediately replace the fear thought with a positive statement such as, “I’m only having a panic attack and it will be over in just a few minutes if I relax,” or “I am fine, everything is fine.” Consider brainstorming the kinds of fearful thoughts that make you feel panicked and then make a list of coping statements that you can look at when you start to feel your level of panic rising.

Accept Your Feelings: It is important to accept your feelings and not minimize the experience of a panic attack. First, try to identify what emotion you are feeling and the reason you are feeling it. Validate that feeling and the reason for it.

Following these four steps will help you to overcome your panic attacks and calm yourself within a few minutes. However, if you continue to have panic attacks, consider meeting with a psychologist to talk about what is causing your anxiety. You can also visit iPrevail to chat with a trained peer life coach for free who can help you to address your anxiety 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Share this article