A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear, panic, or anxiety that sets off severe physical reactions. It can be overwhelming and terrifying. When panic attacks happen, you might think you’re having a heart attack or even dying. Some have experience chest pain while others have reported feeling like they’re having a stroke when it occurs.
There are various ways to prevent panic attacks. Following these strategies can help you stop a panic attack when it happens, or sense one is about to come on.
Before we dive right in, it is essential to note that panic attacks themselves aren’t life-threatening; however, they can be scary and significantly affect your quality of life. Let’s see some of the most common signs that show you may be having a panic attack.
- Headaches, dizziness, and lightheadedness
- The feeling of impending danger
- Fear of loss of control or death
- Accelerated, pounding heart rate
- Feeling of numbness
- Trembling and chills
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or vomiting
- Chest pain
- Fast and accelerated, pounding heart rate
The best way to deal with a panic attack is to see your medical health care provider as soon as possible to help stop them from getting more severe or happening more frequently. Now that you have understood how a panic attack happens and have seen the symptoms let’s see some practical ways to prevent panic attacks from happening.
Effective Strategies You Can Use to stop or prevent panic attacks
Let go of caffeine, alcohol, and smoking
Taking these substances can worsen panic attacks. Panic support groups have valuable advice about how you can effectively control or manage your attacks. Furthermore, understanding that other people are encountering the same feelings can be reassuring and comforting. Your general practitioner can put you in contact with panic support groups in your area. (1)
Regular exercise, such as aerobic exercises, has a lot of health benefits. Also, exercise activities release endorphins, which help keep the blood pumping at precisely the right time. Doing these exercises will help you manage or control your stress levels, release tension, improve your mood, and boost self-esteem.
Mindfulness is a type of meditation in which you concentrate on being intensely conscious of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation. Since panic attacks can cause a feeling of disconnection from reality, mindfulness can prevent it from happening.
Practicing mindfulness also helps to relax the body and mind, reduce anxiety, and help remove stressors. Spending too much time planning, problem-solving, imagining, or thinking negative or random thoughts can be exhausting, making you undergo stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression. Practicing mindfulness will direct your attention can help you direct your attention away from all these disturbing factors. (2)
Do well to use times of quiet and solitude to practice mindfulness.
Recognize that you’re having a panic attack
Recognizing what you’re having or experiencing will help you make the right moves. Knowing the difference between a panic attack and a heart attack will help you focus on the correct technique and take the appropriate action to prevent it. As we have said earlier, panic attacks are not life-threatening. It will come and go away. They are only temporary. This will make you calm yourself and try to relax, knowing there is no impending danger.
Muscle Relaxation Techniques
Muscle relaxation techniques can control your body’s response and help relieve tension. When your body is physically relaxed or calm, you won’t feel anxious. Also, practicing muscle relaxation techniques can help stop a panic attack in its tracks because it effectively relieves tension and controls the body’s response.
Also, muscle relaxation techniques can help with sleep problems. You can get on with it by relaxing one muscle at a time, starting with fingers to moving your way up through your body.
Regular breathing exercise is also another effective way to prevent panic attacks. If you can control the way you breathe, you’re less likely to experience the hyperventilating that can make panic attacks worsen. Here are some ways to do deep breathing.
- First of all, try to be relaxed.
- Breathe in through your nose and let your stomach fill with air.
- Place one hand on your belly and the other hand on your chest.
- Then exhale out through your nose. (5)
- As you breathe in, sense your belly rise, and as you breathe out, feel your belly lower.
- The hand on your stomach should move more than the one that’s on your chest.
- Take full deep breaths three times and breathe fully into your belly as it goes up and down with your breath. (6)
Your breath is also a powerful tool to help manage stress and anxiety.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy aims to improve mental health. It focuses on changing patterns of thinking and behaviors, improving emotional regulation, and developing personal coping tactics that target solving current difficulties.
Also, it can identify and change the negative thought patterns that are feeding or bringing your panic attacks.
One of CBT’s goals is to “become your own therapist.” You will be able to learn skills you cal later use on your own after treatment and keep on feeling better. Studies have shown that people tend to maintain their advancement over time, which is very reassuring. (7)
Eat regular meals to stabilize your blood sugar levels
Based on an article published by Science Daily, Out of 4,385 patients that were surveyed, 193 reported experiencing recent episodes of panic attacks. Panic episodes were associated with more soaring blood sugar levels, increased diabetic complications and symptoms, more significant disability, and lower self-rated health and functioning.
Eating balanced diet foods, especially foods containing protein, healthy fat, and fiber reduces spikes in blood sugar levels after meals. Try to eat every 3 to 5 hours to keep your blood sugar levels steady.
Also, it takes discipline to do it, but stabilizing blood sugar levels is entirely doable. It can help to stop or prevent panic attacks from occurring.
Conclusively, If you always feel stressed and worried, mainly about when your next panic attack may occur, you may have panic disorder. Following the above steps in this article will help you to prevent panic attacks.
According to Professor Salkovskis, he says, and I quote: “There’s no quick fix, but if your attacks are happening time after time, seek medical help”
See also: How To Deal With Mental Exhaustion