Panic Attack Symptoms:
- Intense Fear, Worry, Anxiety, or Dread
- Shortness of breath
- Tightness in the chest
- Rapid heartbeat
- Sweating or Shaking
- Inability to relax
How to Manage Panic and Anxiety:
- RATE the panic on a scale of 1-10. 1 = no concerns or worries; all is normal. 10 = full blown panic attack/crisis mode Anything we can MEASURE we can start to control and manage.
- ACCEPT the anxiety. Don’t try to stuff the emotions down or ignore how you’re feeling.
You’re feeling this way for a reason so don’t ignore your symptoms.
- ASK yourself, what’s the worst that could happen here? How can I handle it?
- BREATHE normally. During a panic attack we experience shortness of breath and tend to breath rapidly. So normalize your breathing and focus on deep breaths. On the inhale count to 5, hold for 3, and then exhale for 7 counts to help stabilize.
- FOCUS on an object in the room. See it and describe it to yourself. This helps to orient you in the present moment and shifts your focus.
- TIME the panic attack. Although, it can feel like an eternity, note how little time passes.
- NOTICE if the attacks are happening in a certain location or at a certain time. This is called “cued” or “triggered” panic attacks. When it passes, get out a piece of paper and write about that place or time. This helps to further process it and for you to piece together what may be triggering your symptoms and causing underlying worry or anxiety.
- TAKE your writings to your counselor to further explore the causes of the panic. Overcoming a panic attack is not a matter of willpower. It is a malfunction of brain chemistry which can be helped by cognitive-behavioral therapy or EMDR. A panic attack won’t hurt you physically, even though it feels unbearable. Relaxing a small amount and observing what’s happening will help to maintain perspective and minimize symptoms.