How do I stop a panic attack

First aid for panic attacks

Many people who suffer from stress and psychological stress, not infrequently also suffer from panic attacks. Panic attacks feel a little different for everyone, but the symptoms are often the same: a sudden racing heart, sweat breaking out, and chest constricting. You may experience dizziness or nausea. These physical symptoms are accompanied by fearful, almost catastrophic thoughts, such as the fear of losing control or even dying.

While it can stick to a single panic attack, panic attacks will in many cases develop into a panic disorder or an anxiety disorder. Affected people begin to fear the next attack: the fear of fear keeps the panic disorder going. Breaking out of this vicious circle requires professional treatment, for example with the help of cognitive behavioral therapy.

Do you also have an anxiety disorder? Register for our study in cooperation with Charité Berlin on the subject of fear & panic and get free access to the selfapy course at fear & panic. In this way you will help us to further confirm the effectiveness of our courses.

6 Tips for Immediate Relief For Panic Attacks

The earlier psychotherapy to treat anxiety attacks begins, the higher the chances that the anxiety cycle will not become too entrenched and quickly overcome. Immediate help accompanied by psychologists is offered, for example, by our online course on Angst & Panik. In the meantime, it is important to know how to act during an acute panic attack. We have summarized the 6 best tips in this first aid kit.

1. Slow down breathing

Using the right breathing technique while in the middle of an attack is essential. When people are prone to panic attacks, they tend to forget to exhale because they are too busy getting air into their lungs, and it is easy to hyperventilate.

It often helps those affected to breathe in slowly and deeply through the nose until the stomach is filled with air and then exhale through the mouth. You can try to feel the incoming air in your nose and feel how the abdominal wall rises and falls again. You can put one hand on your stomach to focus on raising and lowering your stomach. The focus should be on the breath, and it is better to breathe deeply into the diaphragm or abdomen rather than into the chest. This focus on breathing should be maintained until the fear has subsided and the heartbeat slows down.

Against hyperventilation, it helps to hold your breath for 10-15 seconds or to breathe “back” into a paper bag.

2. Drink water

Another simple but very effective trick is drinking cold water. It's best to always have a water bottle with you. Drinking a few sips of water distracts the body, and drinking it automatically slows breathing. Many sufferers also find it pleasant to splash water on their face during a panic attack or let it flow over the palms of their hands.

3. Relaxing during an acute panic attack

When a panic attack approaches, those affected should first try to relax. For example, by applying progressive muscle relaxation, which helps relax the body and soul. The method is easy to learn and very effective. Alternatively, it can help to gently stretch individual parts of the body or massage the neck yourself.

Perhaps practicing yoga or some other gentle sport can bring some improvement. Gentle exercise keeps the body busy and brings breath and heart rate back to normal levels.

4. Accept the attacks

Nobody has to be ashamed of having a panic attack. Fighting against them can even be a hindrance. Affected people should allow the feelings - physically and emotionally - without fixating on them. You should be aware of what happens during a panic attack, but not get into it.

It can help to remember that an attack will go away after 10, 15 or 30 minutes at the latest. A mantra or an affirmation such as “I am strong and can survive this” or “I am in control” can help.

5. The panic attack emergency kit

An emergency kit can be helpful in the event of a panic attack. This can be a note in the cell phone or in the wallet. Here you can write down five things that can help when you have a panic attack. Breathing, relaxation, meditation or other coping methods that are personally helpful for one. Other distractions can also help. This steers the focus away from the physical warning signals and hectic breathing and can prevent or alleviate a panic attack.

6. Meditations for panic attacks

Meditating regularly helps many people to better manage their fears. There are many apps for this that offer free meditations and breathing exercises. For example, apps like 7Mind, Zenify or Headspace offer many different meditations and breathing exercises. Many meditation apps now have special meditation courses for anxiety and panic attacks.