How To Stop A Panic Attack

Posted by on Jan 22, 2015

 

 

HOW TO STOP A PANIC ATTACK

The most important thing to remember if you suffer from panic attacks is that the symptoms are uncomfortable but not dangerous.  You have experienced these sensations in your body before but they did not cause you great concern that you started to panic.

You may feel in absolute despair and you perceive that every situation has the potential to bring on another attack. Rest assured panic attacks are very easily treated.

What is a panic attack?

When you have a panic attack it’s actually your body working really effectively to keep you alive, it’s not trying to harm you.

It is your Sympathetic Nervous System producing adrenaline to help you either to stay and fight or take flight and run from danger (fight or flight response).

It is activated when you perceive you are in danger.  Of course you may not actually be in danger.  For example if you’re walking along a dark alley late at night and you see two hooded figures coming towards you, you may perceive you are in danger of being attacked.  Your pulse is racing, your heart is pounding, you may feel light headed and wanting to freeze to the spot or run like mad.  Once they pass and you realise they are just a nice couple of teenage kids you instantly relax.  In a second you have told your brain that you are no longer in danger and your sympathetic nervous system goes to a normal state. So you can see, your body does what ever you tell it to and it does a very good job of it too.

 

How to stop an attack

The key to stopping a panic attack is to realise that when you fear it and run from it you give it power, but if you turn round and face it you disarm it. So how do you do that?

For example, some people like to think of their panic attack as a monster or a thing.  They can make it any shape or colour they want and give it a name. Some people call it  PAM, the Panic Attack Monster.

If you hold on really tightly in fear of another attack you actually give PAM more power and the symptoms would increase.

The day you turn round to PAM and say “come on then, do your worst.”  the symptoms will reduce immediately!

Every time you get that rush of hot and cold draining through your body, sweaty palms or pounding heart or what ever it is that alerts you to the possibility that you could be having another attack, just acknowledge in your head that it is PAM or whatever you want to call it.

Sometimes an attack comes out of the blue for no apparent reason.  This is because you have trained your sympathetic nervous system to be on high alert for any possible danger, so unconsciously it is scanning for any triggers that you have put in place.   You now need to tell it that you don’t need that warning signal now as you’re not in danger and that’s just an old habit.

This is where your imagination can work wonders.  Like I explained earlier, imagining that your panic attack is a being or creature, you can blame it for any uncomfortable sensations you get in your body, that are no longer needed.  For example I would have said “PAM shove off we don’t do that any more that’s an old habit” then I would imagine in my mind PAM scurrying off scared because she had been found out.  When you face it, you disarm it.

Just try, as an experiment to make a panic attack happen and see how hard it is to actually bring one on. Say to yourself, “come on then, bring it on.” Because you are facing it and challenging it, it loses power and goes as quickly as it came.

When you face PAM it is running scared from you instead of the other way round.  The more you face your fear or your PAM or what ever you want to call it, the more you disarm it. You can see it for what it really is, powerless, pathetic and afraid.  You get back the control.

The more you do this the more it works and in turn you will start a cycle of behaviour where you will see that you can trust your new technique to work and regain control again. Each time it works it brings you more confidence of it always working.

Remember, symptoms of anxiety are uncomfortable but not dangerous.  Tell yourself this.

 

What else can you do?

Find out as much as you can about your panic attacks.  Get to understand yours and be aware of what happens to your body.  Isolate your feelings and get to know them and don’t be afraid of them.  For example:

If you had never had a panic attack before and your hands were tingling a bit, that wouldn’t make you panic.  If you felt a bit lightheaded you may question if you needed to eat or if you were coming down with something but it wouldn’t make you have a panic attack.  So don’t be in fear of your symptoms as that gives them power.  Having some of those feelings does not mean it’s a panic attack. Normalise them and the battle will be over.

It’s also important to be aware of what you tell yourself, watch your self-talk.  If you start talking negatively to yourself, question it.  Come up with an alternative positive statement that will make you feel good about yourself.  Would you say those horrible negative statements to a friend?  If not then why are you saying it to yourself?  Be kind to yourself.

Be aware of the images you play over and over in your mind.  Replace negative images from events with positive images from events, places or people that make you happy.

 

Finally, SMILE I know this is probably the last thing you want to do right now but just allowing a gently smile has been scientifically proven to lift your spirits.

A smile helps your body to release endorphins that make you feel happy.

Cortisol levels are reduced  when you smile and this gives you a burst of energy.

So take back control  of your life and have a try at these techniques.  Keep practicing so your unconscious mind understands the new changes you want to make. You can do this and you will be really surprised how it will work and you will be panic free. And really, if you analyse your feelings and symptoms, that’s all that they are, a discomfort.  Remind yourself of this.

If you would like further help being panic free then please email me at Carolyne@thereallyusefullifecoach.com  or call me for a chat  on 07984 826 982.