How to handle panic attacks when they occur, according to psychologists

How one can deal with panic assaults once they happen, based on psychologists

By Cassidy Morrison Senior Well being Reporter for Dailymail.Com

Up to date: 19:04 March 14, 2023

  • Psychological well being consultants suggest distractions, good posture, remedy, and extra
  • About 11% of individuals in america expertise a panic assault annually
  • Anxiousness is the commonest psychological well being downside, affecting 40 million adults

Hyperventilation, chest pains, sweating, and a racing coronary heart are simply a few of the terrifying signs of a panic assault.

One in 10 Individuals can have simply considered one of them this yr, based on the Cleveland Clinic, and about one in 50 can have extra.

Many victims say they really feel like they’re about to die, have a coronary heart assault or go insane, whereas others say they really feel like they’ve misplaced management of their our bodies.

However spoke to a few psychologists about tips on how to forestall assaults naturally — with out medicine — and the way finest to take care of them in the event that they come up:

Psychological well being consultants Dr Ian Stanley, Dr Karen Lynn Cassiday and Dr Carolyn Rubenstein (pictured left to proper) spoke to about some confirmed methods to fend off assaults. They embody hands-on identification of a panic assault when it strikes, slowing respiratory, and distraction from bodily signs


Whereas getting mundane recommendation like taking deep breaths could appear mundane to somebody experiencing a panic assault or panic dysfunction, it truly works, based on Dr. Ian Stanley, a psychologist on the College of Colorado.

He recommendsexhaling for just a few seconds longer than inhaling. When one begins to come up,strive inhaling to a depend of 4 and exhaling to a depend of six.

Inhalation is related to the sympathetic nervous system which prompts the combat or flight response. In a way it’s the accelerator pedal.

In the meantime, the exhale is related to the parasympathetic nervous system, which is what impacts our physique’s potential to relax.

Prolonged exhalation mechanically locations extra emphasis on the facet of the nervous system that gives relaxation and rest.

It sort of trains the physique to decelerate after which present physiological suggestions, that the menace is not as imminent as a panic assault makes some suppose, Dr. Stanley mentioned.


Dr. Carolyn Rubenstein, a psychologist in Boca Raton, Florida, recommends sharpening your senses on one thing exterior to behave as a distraction from bodily and emotional panic.

What I attempt to actually advise individuals to do as a result of it is sort of inventive is consider the rainbow.

“And take into consideration on the lookout for three purple issues [in the room or your surroundings]three orange issues and three yellow, inexperienced and blue issues.

‘And you’ll even broaden that and search for gold, silver, black and white and actually have interaction it. It even works in the event you’re driving or flying.

It is actually useful when it comes to de-escalation as a result of it is going to hold you busy and it takes a while.

“And it actually forces you to broaden your perspective and get out of your physique for a couple of minutes so you may relax.”

Different useful distractions would possibly embody listening to nice music, dipping your face or fingers in ice chilly water, or getting some contemporary air.


For many individuals, merely figuring out that panic is on the best way may be reassuring.

Telling your self very calmly and concretely that the physique’s response to some overseas stimulus is a miscalculation is sufficient to disarm panic, in lots of instances.

Dr. Rubenstein mentioned: You are labeling it, you are it, slightly than reacting from it. You come from a locus of management, slightly than the signs that management you.

It is a thoughts trick that we use, it type of introduces logic, and never a lot simply feelings being in management.

“Tagging is actually vital to regaining that management, and it places you again within the driver’s seat for a second, which may be extremely useful while you really feel an entire lack of management.”

READ MORE: Avoiding Anxiousness-Inflicting Conditions…Can Trigger Anxiousness!

Dr. Tracy Marks, a psychologist in Atlanta, Georgia, says an individual fighting nervousness could make their situation worse by avoiding sure triggers.

Panic assaults aren’t inherently deadly, however experiencing them can really feel like struggling a coronary heart assault and even dying.

The signs are huge ranging and rely on the person, however a few of them embody chest pains, dizziness, nausea, tremors, sweating, speedy heartbeat and hyperventilation, and a deep concern of shedding management.

They usually come on shortly and might final wherever from 5 to twenty minutes.

The interval following a panic assault the place your physique and thoughts are recovering can really feel like a foul hangover.


Dr. Karen Lynn Cassiday, chief government officer of the Anxiousness Therapy Middle of Better Chicago, advised that individuals vulnerable to panic assaults ought to keep good posture and sit up.

Impaired respiratory attributable to poor posture induces and exacerbates the extent of tension.

He mentioned: What individuals do, and animals too, once they’re underneath persistent stress, they go into this posture of concern and also you make it troublesome to your physique to breathe naturally and out of the blue you breathe out an excessive amount of carbon dioxide.

Standing or sitting in a assured posture with a puffed chest and broad shoulders has a psychological increase, bettering confidence, temper and vitality ranges and decreasing stress, nervousness and despair.


Whereas the 4:6 technique helps you hit the brakes in a panic, Dr. Cassiday additionally warns in opposition to respiratory too deeply throughout a panic assault.

Many individuals fighting a panic assault will be capable to recall the oft-given recommendation to breathe deeply or deeply to stabilize the center fee. However while you hyperventilate, it is simpler mentioned than finished and really exacerbates the issue.

It is because hyperventilation happens when individuals breathe so quick and deeply that they expel an unusually great amount of carbon dioxide, which in flip causes the heady signs comparable to dizziness that characterize a panic assault. These signs mimic the sensation of suffocation, which units off a vicious cycle of breathless panic.

Dr Cassiday mentioned: The worst factor you are able to do is take a deep breath as a result of it solely serves to decrease your carbon dioxide ranges much more. Breathe slowly and gently by means of your nostril so it is as quiet as doable and you’ll barely really feel it behind your throat.


Anxiousness is a standard sickness and psychologists and licensed social employees are skilled to teach individuals by means of it.

There are lots of remedy choices for panic assaults and panic issues. Cognitive behavioral remedy, typically referred to as discuss remedy or psychotherapy, is the primary line of remedy for panic dysfunction and panic assaults.

CBT equips the affected person with the instruments to raised modify their thought processes and actions to deal with and disarm the intrusive ideas that result in panic assaults.

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Remedy can’t solely assist somebody higher perceive what to do when a panic assault happens, but in addition tips on how to change their habits and thought patterns that might set off a panic assault sooner or later.

Dr Karen Lynn Cassiday mentioned a panic assault is like while you have been a child and somebody’s older brother was holding your head underwater in a swimming pool and also you thought you’d by no means make it to the floor.

Having 4 or extra of those signs is actually overwhelming, which is why many individuals would possibly suppose, I am having a stroke, I am going loopy, I am dying, there’s one thing terribly incorrect with my physique. And actually, they’re proper, it is actually none of these issues that I simply talked about.

Many individuals coping with panic assaults face a relentless concern of being caught off guard by one whereas performing regular life capabilities, comparable to buying or driving.

Some individuals won’t ever expertise a panic assault. Most individuals will expertise one or two of their lifetime. However an unlucky 4.7% of Individuals undergo from panic dysfunction, persistent nervousness that features frequent panic assaults.

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