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How can I control panic attacks when the breathing techniques don't work because I cant concentrate?

7 Answers
Last Updated: 03/16/2021 at 1:53am
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Lindsay Scheinerman, MA, LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

My work with clients is to help them recognize and build on their strengths to find solutions for the conflicts presented in their lives.

Top Rated Answers
November 14th, 2016 7:56pm
The next best thing in my experience is to distract your mind. This can be with just about anything. Have a conversation with someone, watch a movie, listen to music, read, paint or draw, snuggle a pet, so on.
January 1st, 2017 12:14pm
Most of the time, you cannot completely control panic attacks. But the good news is that when they happen, they will undoubtedly pass. And usually the they only last a couple of minutes. If you have a panic attack and cannot control your breathing, I would advise going somewhere alone or with a supportive friend/family member) or going somewhere safe while it passes. Personally, sitting down or lying down helps my panic attacks. Chewing gum does for me as well, because it makes me more aware of my body and what it's doing/how it's feeling. You could also distract yourself is possible - even with something to play with in your hands (for example, a sponge, rubber ball, etc).
March 13th, 2017 10:21pm
I also found it hard to concentrate on breathing while we are having panic attack. What helped me a lot was installing breathing app. It helped me to have clear guidance and comforting sound. Whenever I have panic attack, I just start the app and follow it. I would recommend to try several relaxation technique apps when you are feeling fine, and have your favorite on your home screen so that you can quickly access to it when you have panic attack. Also, if you have not done so, I would see your doctor or therapist and talk about it.
May 8th, 2017 11:22pm
Personally 99% of the time I cannot help myself through a panic attack. I always call someone that I know will help and support me and help me get out of my attack. They help me through the breathing exercises and tell me soothing things that I need to hear because my mind is too foggy and panicky to do anything else.
July 3rd, 2017 11:03pm
Look around you, find 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 of your favorite scents, and one of your favorite flavors. This is called a grounding technique and it helps many people, including me. After you do this, you might feel a little better. You now can do some breathing exercises.
March 31st, 2020 12:45pm
I would recommend having a pre-recorded meditation/breathing session ready to go on your phone for when you need it, or a trusted person you can call who will sit with you and remind you to breathe. Anxiety is powerful and can shut down your ability to think, even about basic things like regulating your breathing. But remember you are powerful too, and you will get through this, sometimes you may just need a little help along the way and there is no shame in that. Preparation is the best thing you can do for yourself, so what is definitively one of the simplest yet most effective ways to handle an anxiety-provoking situation is to plan in advance and have something or someone on standby for when you need that little extra help to calm down.
March 16th, 2021 1:53am
One thing that can work is a 5,4,3,2,1. I like to use colors. So I find 5 things that are red, 4 that are orange, 3 that are green, 2 that are blue and one that is purple. This really helps focus the brain so you are able to be calmed down enough to focus on breathing more. Another that can be good to use is 5 things you can see, 4 things that you can touch or feel, three things that you can hear, two things that you can smell and one thing that you can taste. This also has a similar effect. Other things I do are count different objects or breathe with a clock ticking so like 3 ticks breathing in, three holding and three breathing out.