What can and should one do when having a panic attack to lessen the effects of the symptoms?

32 Answers
Last Updated: 07/23/2019 at 9:17pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Melissa Hummelt, LMHC

Licensed Professional Counselor

I am passionate about empowering others, creating awareness around difficult situations, and ultimately supporting people in creating meaningful lives and relationships.

Top Rated Answers
Anonymous
March 21st, 2015 9:56pm
Distract yourself from the symptoms and thoughts of the panic attack. One of the reasons panic attacks can go from bad to worse and end up lasting a while is because we tend to focus on what is happening and what we are feeling during an attack. A great way to lessen and even shorten the effects is a positive distraction. That can come from many different things whether its playing a game, watching a favorite show/movie, listening to music, reading, talking to someone. You have to find what works best for yourself to distract your mind from the attack.
Randy1
April 1st, 2015 7:51pm
Breath. In through the nose, counting to 4. hold for two, then exhale through pursed lips. count to 4, hold for 2. then repeat. If you can remember to do this, the symptoms will rapidly diminish.
Anonymous
September 22nd, 2015 2:12am
When I have panic attacks, people say to focus on breathing, but I find that worsens my symptoms for some reason. So, instead, I think about myself being somewhere else, some place that I enjoy being at; some place relaxing like a beach. Thinking about places and people that I love helps to calm me down and relieve the "heart attack" like feelings. I hope that my experience can help someone else!
DeniseZ
October 28th, 2014 4:31am
If you focus on you fear, your panic attack will only get worse. Keep reminding yourself that it will pass and it cannot hurt you.
mahoganyecho
October 29th, 2014 12:14pm
The number one thing is breathe deeply. You'll calm down your brain because it'll start sending warning signals as soon as your breathing turns shallow. For me, talking out loud to myself is very helpful too
Helper6754
October 29th, 2014 10:53pm
you can take your medicine also you can try to slow your breathing and take deep breaths until it passes
LovelyFreedom
November 6th, 2014 9:38pm
You can count from 100 to 38 in your mind. So you distract your mind and panic attack go away.
Anonymous
November 8th, 2014 3:51pm
count and repeat really slowly in your head. 1 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 3 ect. As a temporary thing distraction, using your mobile phone to take your mind off it. But you should see your doctor and look into what help is available to you in terms of therapy/medication
ListenLady
September 8th, 2015 1:38pm
There are different methods people use to help when having a panic attack. One method is by breathing exercises such as deep or box breathing. Mindfulness meditation can also be used. Other people just let the panic attack happen, let it flow over them like water because once you realise a panic attack can't hurt you and that they always pass, the panic attack loses its power and you aren't scared anymore. Other people use distraction techniques like adult colouring books for example, or cooking, going for a walk, playing a game, anything that distracts your mind from the panic attack. There are also options a doctor can give you such as medication or refer you for therapy such as Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
thistooshallpass25
October 23rd, 2014 1:03pm
Personally, I became aware of my symptoms of a panic attack. When I would feel them, I would wrap my arms around myself as tightly as I could, like a hug. The contraction on you makes it easier for you to breathe and calm yourself. I would focus on my breathing and that is all. Nothing else, just getting my breathing under control.
lonelyghost
October 29th, 2014 5:23am
Focus on trying to slow down your breathing by taking long breaths. Try not to let your mind cycle through all the thoughts that are causing the attack.
Jedda
October 29th, 2014 6:52am
1. Acknowledge it when it occurs. 2. Address the symptoms - stop what you are doing, sit down, take some deep breaths, have a drink of water or a cup of tea. 3. Let other people know what is happening to you.
Alicianne
October 30th, 2014 1:36am
Take deep breaths. In through the nose. Then, hold. Exhale through the mouth. It doesn't need to be loud or obnoxious-sounding. But it does help.
Anonymous
November 13th, 2014 9:23pm
The first time I had a full blown panic attack, I called my therapist and he told me to focus on tangible things instead of recoiling back into my head. Try to drink some water and focus on anything outside of your head. Distractions are very key here. Also try being around friends because being alone is never good.
JulieAliH
November 16th, 2014 5:04am
In order to take control over your panic attack, take deep breaths. If you're having shortness of breath, take a deep breath and hold your breath for 10 seconds; this may seem strange, but it helps to regulate your breathing. Lying down (if possible) is also very helpful. If in public, try to find somewhere to sit and just close your eyes, clear your mind, and practice the breathing technique described above.
Anonymous
November 20th, 2014 1:34pm
Remove yourself from the stressful situation, take deep breaths and small sips of water. Concentrate on regulating your breathing.
electricUnicorns51
April 8th, 2015 4:54pm
close your eyes. breathe dee. think happy thoughts. it happens to me a lot. that helps way more than you'd think
AskingAriel
April 15th, 2015 1:29am
Remember to stay calm. Focus on your breathing. In through your nose and out through mouth. Remember that it'll pass soon.
Anonymous
July 16th, 2018 11:25am
Focus on things around you, like what you see, hear, smell, touch, etc, normally making your mind think about these thing, it'll help stop focusing on whatever's making you panic or feel like your gonna panic.
fffJavy
October 23rd, 2014 7:50pm
The most effective method I've used to manage by own panic attacks and assist with others' is to use breathing exercises. I use an inhale/exhale count that starts at three and end at ten to calm myself, and if I'm assisting someone experiencing a panic attack, I ask them to breathe with me during the same exercises. Hope this helps, and best of luck to you :)
Nodzaa
November 14th, 2014 12:37am
Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold breath for 7 seconds then exhale for 8 seconds and repeat.. It works well :)
MorningGloryBlue
November 18th, 2014 11:11am
When I have panic attacks, I go through a few steps to try to minimize the symptoms. I first tell myself that all I'm feeling are anxiety symptoms - this is just my body reacting to something. I take stock of the anxious behaviors I am exhibiting, such as if I am shaking my legs, fidgeting, picking at my skin, or asking a lot of the same questions, only phrased differently. Once I have observed the symptoms taking place, I like to take some actions to lessen the physical strain of the panic attack. First, I start some deep breathing exercises. I like the rhythm of yoga breathing - breathe in for a 7 count, hold for a 4 count, breathe out for an 8 count. I do that anywhere between 3-10 times. I also like to take stock of how tense my muscles are. My shoulders and neck tend to get especially tense during panic attacks. If I notice this occurring, I use progressive muscle relaxation techniques or personal massage to loosen these muscles back up. I make sure that my shoulders are rolled down and back, rather than hunched up. If need be, I will do a little bit of stretching or yoga once I've done all these steps to get my mind on something else.
starryIris46
August 4th, 2015 7:19pm
Stay where you are If possible, you should stay where you are during a panic attack. The attack could last up to an hour, so you may need to pull over and park where it's safe to do so if you're driving. Focus If you have a panic attack, remind yourself that the frightening thoughts and sensations will eventually pass. During an attack, try to focus on something that's non-threatening and visible, such as the time passing on your watch or items in a supermarket. Slow deep breathing While you're having a panic attack, try to focus on your breathing. Feelings of panic and anxiety can get worse if you breathe too quickly. Try breathing slowly and deeply while counting to three on each breath in and out. Challenge your fear When you have a panic attack, try to identify what it is you fear and challenge it. You can achieve this by constantly reminding yourself that what you fear isn't real and that it will pass in a few minutes. Creative visualisation Many things can go through your mind during a panic attack – for example, some people think about disaster or death. Instead of focusing on negative thoughts, try to concentrate on positive images. Think of a place or a situation that makes you feel peaceful, relaxed or at ease. Once you have this image in your mind, try to focus your attention on it. It should help distract you from the situation and may also help ease your symptoms. Thinking positively can be difficult, particularly if you've got used to thinking negatively over a long period of time. Creative visualisation is a technique that requires practice, but you may gradually notice positive changes in the way you think about yourself and others. This audio guide aims to help you replace negative thoughts with more positive thinking. Don't fight a panic attack Fighting a panic attack can often make it worse. Trying to resist the attack and finding you're unable to can increase your sense of anxiety and panic. Instead, during a panic attack, reassure yourself by accepting that although it may seem embarrassing, and your symptoms may be difficult to deal with, the attack isn't life-threatening. Focus on the fact that the attack will evetually end and try your best to let it pass. Relaxation If you have panic disorder, you may feel constantly stressed and anxious, particularly about when your next panic attack may be. Learning to relax can help to relieve some of this tension, and it may also help you to deal more effectively with your panic attacks when they occur. Some people find complementary therapies, such as massage and aromatherapy, help them to relax. Activities, such as yoga and pilates, can also be helpful. You can also practise breathing and relaxation techniques, which you can use during a panic attack to help ease your symptoms. Exercise Regular exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, will help reduce stress and release tension. It can also encourage your brain to release the chemical serotonin, which can help improve your mood. It's recommended that adults aged 19-64 years should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week. They should also do muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms). Visit your GP for a fitness assessment before starting a new exercise programme if you haven't exercised before or for a long time. Read more about the physical activity guidelines for adults. Diet Unstable blood sugar levels can contribute to the symptoms of a panic attack. Therefore, you should maintain a healthy, balanced diet, eat regularly and avoid eating sugary food and drinks. Also, avoid caffeine, alcohol and smoking because they can all contribute to panic attacks! Hope this helped!
Anonymous
June 6th, 2016 4:10am
Take deep breaths. Breathing is GREAT. Breathe in for 3 secs, hold 3, out 3. Think calming thoughts.
Anonymous
June 27th, 2016 6:44pm
One coping strategy during a panic attack is to breathe deeply, and hold onto something tightly. You can also try to focus on the positive, or try to distract yourself.
helpfulsam99
July 12th, 2016 11:46pm
If you're hyperventilating, breathe through a paper bag or something similar so you won't take in too much oxygen, which can make you lightheaded and make the attack worse. Sit down in case you have trouble staying conscious. Try to ground yourself. Hold onto something like a pillow or the edge of a chair. Try to focus on the feeling of whatever you're holding onto and the sensation of your feet on the ground or your back resting against the wall or a chair. If possible, get another person there to help you and make sure you calm down and don't get injured.
Anonymous
September 19th, 2016 12:58pm
First, take a deep breath and get that heart rate down. calmly try to think why do I feel this way? Can I get away from whats triggering my attack? Am I an immediate danger? Sometimes asking ourselves these questions helps us to realize that the situation and we can help control the pain attacks.
trashypancakes
December 13th, 2016 6:16pm
They should take deep breaths, try their best to stay calm and go to their happy place, if that doesn't work try getting a wet cloth and put it on your head to cool down and alert an adult
Anonymous
April 24th, 2017 1:22am
It all depends on the symptoms you are having. The most important thing for anyone though is to breathe. It will slow your heart, calm your mind, and lessen chest pain. Close your eyes as well, it will allow you to focus. Start a breathing pattern, counting the seconds you breathe in and out.
friendlyfairy
May 14th, 2018 11:32pm
I use the method of speaking to myself about what is literally happening. For example saying aloud to yourself, "your thoughts are racing, slow it down" or "you're breathing really fast, take some deep breaths." It sounds ridiculous but I've found it has helped slow my thoughts and breathing during panic attacks to help me calm down.