Panic Attacks

Panic AttacksWhat are panic attacks?

Most people have normal fear and anxiety reactions to certain stressors or events in our lives. However, panic disorder takes these to a whole new level. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, intense feelings of fear, shaking, sweating, nausea, numbness, and a fear that you are about to die. Often times panic attacks happen in situations where there is little real danger. Additionally, panic attacks sometimes grow worse over time because the person is in constant fear of having another panic attack. 

How do I prevent panic attacks?

There are some things you can do to help calm yourself down when you feel a panic attack coming on.

Write Down Your Thoughts: When you feel like you are about to have a panic attack, write down your negative thoughts. This switches you from being a victim to being an observer. Once you have written down your negative emotions, write down more rational and grounded statements like "I have a loving family" or "I am calm and in control."

Don't Believe Everything You Think: Sometimes our thoughts lead us astray, especially for those with panic disorder. Remember that not everything you think is true. You may feel an overwhelming sense of fear when the problem(s) at hand are small and inconsequential. Your thoughts are just a symptom of the panic attack and often are exaggerated. Take a deep breath and re-evaluate the situation.

Positive Self-Talk: Many people who have panic disorder feel ashamed and embarrassed. Remember that even though you cannot control the fact that you have panic disorder, you can control the way you react to it. Use positive statements like "I am going to be okay" and "I know I am in control." 

Ice Cubes: If you are having a particularly bad panic attack, place an ice cube wrapped in a paper towel and hold it in your hand for as long as you can stand the cold. This will help take your mind off of the panic attack and help to de-escalate your symptoms.

Exercise: Exercise releases endorphins, which help make you feel better. Even something as simple as taking a walk outside in fresh air can help lessen your symptoms. 

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Speiser, Jeremy. "Chinese Herbal Medicine for Panic Attacks." News. Web. 12 Mar. 2015. <>.

Tartakovsky, Margarita. "How to Halt and Minimize Panic Attacks." Psych <>.