How to stop a panic attack: tips on how to keep yourself calm


Deep breathing can help a panic attack (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Panic attacks are scary. They can be so severe that they have been likened to the feeling of a heart attack, with them causing symptoms such as shortness of breath and chest pains.

When you have anxiety, and something triggers it, you never know when a panic attack might strike – but there are ways to stop the attack from getting any worse – because in some cases, they have resulted in people going to the hospital and being helped by paramedics.

For mental health awareness week, we’re discussing Google’s most searched questions on mental health, including how to stop a panic attack.

Rachel Boyd, Head of Information Content at Mind, says panic attacks can be a ‘scary experience, particularly if you’ve never had one before or if you don’t know what’s happening.’

She says: ‘Panic attacks can be a scary experience, particularly if you’ve never had one before or if you don’t know what’s happening.

‘They’re an exaggeration of the body’s normal response to danger, stress or excitement. You might have physical symptoms like dizziness, nausea, rapid breathing, chest pains and sweating.’

Use techniques such as deep breathing and counting to five

Rachel suggests a few techniques for how to stop a panic attack as it takes place – or to prevent it actually happening when you feel one is coming.

Counting to five can als help (Picture: Phébe Lou Morson for Metro.co.uk)

She says: ‘If you experience a panic attack there’s a few techniques you can try.

‘It can help to concentrate on breathing slowly in and out while counting to five.

‘Focusing on your senses too – what you can taste, feel, smell, see and hear – can help bring you back from feelings of panic.’

Think about something similar, and bring back awareness to your body

Rebecca Lockwood, an award-winning Mindset Coach tells Metro.co.uk her best techniques for stopping a panic attack head-on.

She says: ‘If someone is suffering with a panic attack or is about to, the best thing to do is to think about something that is familiar, like your favorite song and begin to sing or put it on to listen to.

‘This helps because it brings the awareness back to now and to changes the current thinking and internal representation.

‘Meaning that what you are thinking about in your mind changes. It brings you back to here and now and helps you change your physiology.

‘Changing your physiology will help you because think about it, when you are feeling unhappy or low, you have your shoulders slumped, you are looking down, when you are happy you are the opposite.

‘Your shoulders are back, your chin is up and your chest is open. By listening to your favorite music you will begin to feel more upbeat and interrupt the negative pattern.’

Use apps to help keep you grounded

There are also apps such as Calm, where there are options for meditation, calming stories and music, which may all be very helpful when you feel a panic attack coming along.’

Most importantly, it is vital that you remember that you are safe, nothing bad is going to happen to you – and although panic attacks can be terrifying, the feelings do and will pass.

This mindset can help keep you calm when you feel one about to take place.

However, if you have frequent panic attacks, Rachel suggests seeing your GP.

She says: ‘If panic attacks are becoming more regular, lasting longer or generally impacting on your day to day life, it’s worth visiting your GP.

‘Speaking about mental health can be a tricky thing to do, but Mind has lots of tips and advice to help prepare you for your appointment.’



Mental Health questions answered

Google’s most-asked mental health questions in 2019 so far:

According to Google, the most frequently asked ‘how to’ questions relating to mental health this year so far are:

1. How to relieve stress
2. How to help anxiety
3. How to stop worrying
4. How to stop a panic attack
5. How to deal with stress
6. How to cope with depression
7. How to know if you have anxiety
8. How to know if you have depression
9. How to help someone with PTSD
10. How to overcome social anxiety
11. How to get help for depression
12. How to treat OCD
13. How to help a depressed friend
14. How to overcome a phobia
15. How to treat PTSD

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MORE: How to treat PTSD: Five tips on getting through the aftermath of trauma





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