How to handle panic attacks when they occur, according to psychologists

Tips on how to deal with panic assaults after they happen, in line with psychologists

By Cassidy Morrison Senior Well being Reporter for Dailymail.Com

Up to date: 19:04 March 14, 2023

  • Psychological well being specialists advocate distractions, good posture, remedy, and extra
  • About 11% of individuals in america expertise a panic assault annually
  • Anxiousness is the most typical psychological well being drawback, affecting 40 million adults

Hyperventilation, chest pains, sweating, and a racing coronary heart are simply among the terrifying signs of a panic assault.

One in 10 Individuals may have simply certainly one of them this 12 months, in line with the Cleveland Clinic, and about one in 50 may have extra.

Many victims say they really feel like they’re about to die, have a coronary heart assault or go insane, whereas others say they really feel like they’ve misplaced management of their our bodies.

However spoke to a few psychologists about stop assaults naturally — with out medication — and the way finest to take care of them in the event that they come up:

Psychological well being specialists Dr Ian Stanley, Dr Karen Lynn Cassiday and Dr Carolyn Rubenstein (pictured left to proper) spoke to about some confirmed methods to fend off assaults. They embrace hands-on identification of a panic assault when it strikes, slowing respiration, and distraction from bodily signs


Whereas getting mundane recommendation like taking deep breaths could appear mundane to somebody experiencing a panic assault or panic dysfunction, it truly works, in line with Dr. Ian Stanley, a psychologist on the College of Colorado.

He recommendsexhaling for a couple of seconds longer than inhaling. When one begins to come up,attempt inhaling to a depend of 4 and exhaling to a depend of six.

Inhalation is related to the sympathetic nervous system which prompts the struggle or flight response. In a way it’s the accelerator pedal.

In the meantime, the exhale is related to the parasympathetic nervous system, which is what impacts our physique’s capability to relax.

Prolonged exhalation routinely locations extra emphasis on the aspect of the nervous system that gives relaxation and leisure.

It sort of trains the physique to decelerate after which present physiological suggestions, that the menace is not as imminent as a panic assault makes some assume, Dr. Stanley stated.


Dr. Carolyn Rubenstein, a psychologist in Boca Raton, Florida, recommends sharpening your senses on one thing exterior to behave as a distraction from bodily and emotional panic.

What I attempt to actually advise individuals to do as a result of it is sort of artistic is consider the rainbow.

“And take into consideration in search of three pink issues [in the room or your surroundings]three orange issues and three yellow, inexperienced and blue issues.

‘And you’ll even broaden that and search for gold, silver, black and white and actually interact it. It even works when you’re driving or flying.

It is actually useful by way of de-escalation as a result of it’ll maintain you busy and it takes a while.

“And it actually forces you to broaden your perspective and get out of your physique for a couple of minutes so you may relax.”

Different useful distractions may embrace listening to nice music, dipping your face or palms in ice chilly water, or getting some recent air.


For many individuals, merely figuring out that panic is on the best way will be reassuring.

Telling your self very calmly and concretely that the physique’s response to some overseas stimulus is a miscalculation is sufficient to disarm panic, in lots of circumstances.

Dr. Rubenstein stated: You are labeling it, you are taking a look at it, reasonably than reacting from it. You come from a locus of management, reasonably than the signs that management you.

It is a thoughts trick that we use, it type of introduces logic, and never a lot simply feelings being in management.

“Tagging is actually necessary to regaining that management, and it places you again within the driver’s seat for a second, which will be extremely useful once you really feel a whole lack of management.”

READ MORE: Avoiding Anxiousness-Inflicting Conditions…Can Trigger Anxiousness!

Dr. Tracy Marks, a psychologist in Atlanta, Georgia, says an individual fighting anxiousness could make their situation worse by avoiding sure triggers.

Panic assaults aren’t inherently deadly, however experiencing them can really feel like struggling a coronary heart assault and even dying.

The signs are extensive ranging and rely on the person, however a few of them embrace chest pains, dizziness, nausea, tremors, sweating, speedy heartbeat and hyperventilation, and a deep concern of dropping management.

They usually come on rapidly and may final wherever from 5 to twenty minutes.

The interval following a panic assault the place your physique and thoughts are recovering can really feel like a foul hangover.


Dr. Karen Lynn Cassiday, chief govt officer of the Anxiousness Therapy Heart of Better Chicago, informed that folks susceptible to panic assaults ought to preserve good posture and sit up.

Impaired respiration attributable to poor posture induces and exacerbates the extent of hysteria.

He stated: What individuals do, and animals too, after they’re underneath persistent stress, they go into this posture of concern and also you make it tough on your physique to breathe naturally and all of the sudden you breathe out an excessive amount of carbon dioxide.

Standing or sitting in a assured posture with a puffed chest and broad shoulders has a psychological increase, enhancing confidence, temper and vitality ranges and decreasing stress, anxiousness and melancholy.


Whereas the 4:6 methodology helps you hit the brakes in a panic, Dr. Cassiday additionally warns in opposition to respiration too deeply throughout a panic assault.

Many individuals fighting a panic assault will be capable to recall the oft-given recommendation to breathe deeply or deeply to stabilize the guts charge. However once you hyperventilate, it is simpler stated than performed and truly exacerbates the issue.

It is because hyperventilation happens when individuals breathe so quick and deeply that they expel an unusually great amount of carbon dioxide, which in flip causes the heady signs resembling dizziness that characterize a panic assault. These signs mimic the sensation of suffocation, which units off a vicious cycle of breathless panic.

Dr Cassiday stated: The worst factor you are able to do is take a deep breath as a result of it solely serves to decrease your carbon dioxide ranges much more. Breathe slowly and gently via your nostril so it is as quiet as doable and you’ll barely really feel it at the back of your throat.


Anxiousness is a typical sickness and psychologists and licensed social staff are skilled to educate individuals via it.

There are various remedy choices for panic assaults and panic problems. Cognitive behavioral remedy, typically referred to as discuss remedy or psychotherapy, is the primary line of remedy for panic dysfunction and panic assaults.

CBT equips the affected person with the instruments to raised modify their thought processes and actions to deal with and disarm the intrusive ideas that result in panic assaults.

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Remedy cannot solely assist somebody higher perceive what to do when a panic assault happens, but additionally change their conduct and thought patterns that might set off a panic assault sooner or later.

Dr Karen Lynn Cassiday stated a panic assault is like once you had been a child and somebody’s older brother was holding your head underwater in a swimming pool and also you thought you’d by no means make it to the floor.

Having 4 or extra of those signs is actually overwhelming, which is why many individuals may assume, I am having a stroke, I am going loopy, I am dying, there’s one thing terribly flawed with my physique. And actually, they’re proper, it is actually none of these issues that I simply talked about.

Many individuals coping with panic assaults face a continuing concern of being caught off guard by one whereas performing regular life features, resembling procuring or driving.

Some individuals won’t ever expertise a panic assault. Most individuals will expertise one or two of their lifetime. However an unlucky 4.7% of Individuals undergo from panic dysfunction, persistent anxiousness that features frequent panic assaults.

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