April 19, 2021

7 Therapy Techniques You Can Use During a Panic Attack

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Medicially Reviewed By:
Dr. Priya Chaudhri
credentials here

Panic attacks can feel just like a heart attack. Learn how to manage panic attacks.

A panic attack is a complete surprise when most people first have one. It seems that out of nowhere you are covered in sweat, heart racing, breath shallow, and feeling faint. A panic attack mimics a heart attack, with almost the exact same symptoms. Because of this people often rush to the ER to be checked out.

Panic attacks may be very scary while you are in the midst of one, but in most cases they do pass within minutes. Also, as much as it feels like you might be dying, panic attacks are not lethal.

The bigger problem with panic attacks is fear about the next one. It is such a frightening event that the thought of ever going through it again can make you withdraw. You might fear going outside again or being in a similar situation for fear of having a panic attack. This can disrupt daily life and even impair functioning.

There are some techniques you can fall back on should a panic attack happen again. These are non-drug actions to take that can help you cycle through the attack and regain your composure. Keep reading to learn all about how to manage a panic attack.

About Panic Attacks

A panic attack strikes with little warning and feels like a wave of terror washing over you. In fact, this is why panic attacks are so unsettling. You live in fear of the next one. The symptoms are so scary that you start to avoid any place or situation that might spark a future panic attack. This can have ill effects on all aspects of daily life.

A panic attack will include four or more of these symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath.
  • Rapid heart rate.
  • Trembling or shaking.
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Heart palpitations.
  • Chest pain.
  • Chills
  • Dizziness
  • Fear of losing your mind or control.
  • Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting.
  • Choking feeling.
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Feeling detached from reality.
  • Intense dread, feeling threatened.
  • Fear of dying.

Panic attacks will emerge quickly without warning, but will also subside fairly swiftly.

What is Panic Disorder?

Panic disorder is the clinical diagnosis of an anxiety disorder. It affects 2.7% of adults each year, and 4.7% over the course of a lifetime. The main feature of panic disorder is having panic attacks on a frequent basis. When the panic attacks begin to cause impairment, the person begins to live in fear. These are the signs of a mental health challenge that disrupts daily life and leads to isolation.

7 Ways to Manage a Panic Attack

When you feel a panic attack coming on you can begin right away to manage its effects. Here are 7 techniques you can use during a panic attack:

1. Focused breathing.

Begin taking slow, deep breaths. The deep breathing technique can be practiced anywhere at any time. Deep focused breathing involves breathing in through the nose for 5 seconds, allowing the chest to expand. Hold the breath for 5 seconds, and then slowly exhale through the mouth for 5 seconds, pushing the air out. Repeat this pattern several times until you feel your body begin to relax.

2. Self-talk.

Use your own mind to override the effects of the panic attack. This means to take control over the event by shaping your thoughts. Try to have a list of short statements that you can begin to use, like a mantra. These might be “This will pass soon,” “I am fine,” “I won’t die from this,” or “Just ride this out.” All of these types of statements help you to affirm that you are not going to be hurt by the panic attack.

3. Essential oils.

The oils that are taken from certain plants or flowers can have powerful effects on your state of mind. Rubbing one of them onto your wrists and then wafting the scent into the nose, breathing deeply, can relax you. The best oils for panic attacks are lavender, rose, ylang ylang, or frankincense. Keep a vial handy in your purse or car to use in the event of a panic attack.

4. Counting objects.

Practice a counting exercise during the panic attack. This helps to distract you from the symptoms. You can begin to count every flower you see, or rock, or red car, or anything you wish. You can also begin counting slowly backwards from one hundred.

5. Relax your muscles.

Muscle tension is a common feature of not only panic attacks, but also all forms of anxiety. Once you are seated try clenching a muscle group and holding it for a count of 5, and then release. This can distract you plus also relax your whole body.

6. Mindfulness.

This is a type of meditation where you dismiss thoughts about future worries or past events and focus on the present. During a panic attack you can fully accept the feelings of fear being felt at the moment. But along with that acceptance you also assure yourself that it’s a transient event and will soon be over.

7. Sit and rest.

Because a panic attack can really throw you off balance, it is best to find a quiet place to sit it out. Once seated, close your eyes and practice deep breathing. Focus your mind on a soothing scene or event until the sense of panic passes.

Being aware that what you are feeling is a panic attack and not a health event is half the battle. If you are concerned about your health, see a doctor for a full exam. If there is no health issue or heart disease present then you can better endure the panic attack. You can see it for what it is and know that it will soon pass.

Elevation Behavioral Health Treats Anxiety Disorder

Elevation Behavioral Health is an upscale residential mental health treatment center in Los Angeles. If you feel like panic attacks are causing you to go through life in fear of the next one, why not get some expert help? Elevation’s program allows you to focus on getting better, and the home-like setting gives you a chance to heal. Take a break from the stressors in your daily life. Enjoy our upscale private home and its stunning setting. Our team will help guide you back to wellbeing. For questions about our program, reach out to us today at (888) 561-0868.


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