How to control and stop panic attacks?

Panic attacks are a type of psychophysiological manifestation , characterized by being very intense and unpredictable. Statistically it has been shown that most people have experienced these attacks at some point. However, 1 in 5 people will eventually develop a disorder from experiencing panic attacks consecutively.

The most remarkable thing about these episodes are their symptoms, which can be very overwhelming for the patients themselves. Mainly they are identified from physical changes and unexpected reactions , they have a direct connection with the emotional state and the fear that is felt at the moment. As the name implies, these attacks arise from direct interaction with a specific fear.

When it becomes a daily problem, patients will face symptoms such as shortness of breath and increased heart rate. The inability to control these symptoms is what makes this condition one of the most limiting in the field of psychology. That is why it is necessary to find the most appropriate techniques and resources to control and stop panic attacks.

Tips and Recommendations

Panic attacks usually manifest in a distinctive way, which is why some symptoms can be considered to be more common. Considering that each person experiences fear in a very particular way, that is why attacks can occur in multiple ways. Patients react and condition their behavior according to the type of fear or style that the attack generates.

The most common is that these attacks start when the patient interacts directly with a situation, something or someone; to which in particular there is an intense fear. What follows is a set of symptoms that manifest themselves in the way of proceeding, which changes dramatically. These behaviors cannot be controlled, causing patients to feel helpless and unable to maintain their composure. 

Here are some tips and recommendations that usually provide good results. It is important to note that for some patients they may be more helpful compared to others. That is why it must be selected and put into practice and those that are the most and appropriate for each case. They are as follows:

  • The deep breathing technique helps control hyperventilation. This is a very common symptom in panic attacks, consequently they usually help to increase the feeling of anxiety. By putting this technique into practice, difficulty in breathing correctly is reduced by controlling this mechanism. It is basically about inhaling and exhaling through the mouth in a slow and rhythmic way.
  • It can be difficult for some patients to recognize that they are experiencing a panic attack. It is very useful to recognize this fact to be able to identify what are the most appropriate steps or decisions to control and stop the symptoms. Unfortunately fear paralyzes people imminently causing lack of control to increase.
  • Disconnecting from the senses can be of vital help. Some triggers for these attacks come from the visualization, contact or hearing of certain stimuli; they are associated with specific fears. This is especially helpful when the patient is in an overstimulated environment to which he reacts negatively. Blocking out these extra stimuli will help you focus.
  • Certain muscle relaxation techniques allow deep breathing to be achieved more easily. For some people, panic attacks mean that they lose control over their own bodies. The extreme stiffness of the limbs is a clear example of how the body automatically reacts to fear. Muscle relaxation is put into practice through exercises such as moving the fingers of the hands.
  • The power of the mind is so strong that simply imagining ourselves in a happy place can counteract the effects of fear . Relax by concentrating on places, situations or people; they are mental aspects that contribute to keeping the mental state balanced. The more details that are included in these imaginary scenarios, this technique will be more effective.

What habits influence panic attacks to stop?

Some habits that are part of the daily life of patients can influence panic attacks in a positive or negative way . This means that it is very likely that carrying out certain activities can be counterproductive , however multiple external factors must be taken into account.

For example, stress is a common factor for most people today; unfortunately it causes multiple negative consequences on physical and mental health. This is why trying to experience less stress can be very helpful. Likewise, we must avoid being part of situations, environments and relationships that generate anxiety.

On the other hand, it has been proven that exercising guarantees better physical health and consequently greater mental stability. This is seen in the production of endorphins necessary for the pumping of blood throughout the body. A greater amount of this substance in the system notably improves mood, counteracting the effects of stress. Simply by walking daily we are helping the body to maintain a constant production.

Also on a daily basis it is highly recommended to integrate the practice of Mindfulness . Mindfulness practice helps people connect with reality in a more effective and healthy way. Sometimes during panic attacks there is a separation or detachment from the environment, consequently the symptoms are more serious.

Patients are often advised to avoid the stimulants to which they are most sensitive. Some of them contribute to increasing adrenaline levels, which are associated with panic attacks. Various studies have shown that people diagnosed with this condition can have a negative reaction to the effects of caffeine, alcohol, or medications.

The most common treatments 

It has been observed that during the initial stages of this condition treatments can be applied that provide positive short-term results. This is the case of cognitive behavioral therapy , it is usually used as the first option because it is highly effective. During its implementation, the patient himself will learn to use techniques and resources that will even help prevent these attacks.

Mainly psychotherapy aims to identify the stimuli that start the attacks , to later select the most conducive techniques to cope with each episode and its symptoms. Also, affected people will feel less shame and more support when communicating their symptoms. When they share their stories, there is an effect of well-being and greater tranquility.

Medications such as benzodiazepines may be helpful for some people , however they should be used with caution and under strict medical supervision. Its effects help counteract panic attacks for a certain period of time. One of the most used is alprazolam (Xanax), it can be very addictive so it should be administered in moderation. However, medications of this type are often highlighted when there is an official diagnosis of panic disorder.

Finally, it is important to clarify that panic attacks do not put patients’ lives at risk, but they do cause a decline in quality of life. They become a limitation, which can have a negative impact on different areas of family, social or professional life.

Due to its unpredictability, that is why you should always try to be prepared and implement techniques that can help prevent them . It has been shown that when combined with good habits they can stop being experienced for a time or with less constancy.

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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