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Panic & Anxiety

How to Control Panic Attacks

Wondering how to control panic attacks? Any person who has ever had a panic attack wonders how to control panic attacks because they’re just so scary. Trying to learn how to control panic attacks, though, can be a little like trying to control a team of runaway horses – next to impossible. If at first you don’t succeed in learning how to control panic attacks, well, you’re not alone. Many panic attack sufferers feel that they absolutely have no control over their panic attacks. They key, though, is to catch the attacks early and to take preventative measures, since once you’re in the middle of a full-blown panic attack, learning to control it can be next to impossible.

Learn Your Triggers and Early Symptoms

For most people, a panic attack starts rather slowly, often with hyperventilation. Pay attention to your mind and body, and try to understand what you’re like leading up to a panic attack. It’s easier to learn how to control panic attacks if you’re trying to control them as they’re building up rather than as you’re smack in the middle of them.

When you’ve learned your triggers and your early symptoms, there are a couple of things you can do to control your panic attacks: breathing exercises and muscle relaxation. These two things will rarely stop a panic attack, but they may make it last a little less time, and they may make you more outwardly calm even when you’re panicking inside. Over time, these responses may become natural when you feel yourself starting to have a panic attack, but at first, you’ll have to remind yourself to start them and force yourself to practice them in the fact of a panic attack. Here’s how they work:

Breathing Exercises: One of the most popular breathing exercises is abdominal breathing, which is essentially when you take long, slow breaths that make it all the way to the bottom of your lungs – unlike the shallow breaths you usually take during your everyday life or the super shallow, fast breaths you take when you’re about to hyperventilate at the beginning of a panic attack. Start forcing yourself to take slow breaths as you count to five breathing in, and count to five again breathing out. This can help calm your body and mind, and at the very least, it can lower your heart rate and keep you from hyperventilating.

Muscle Relaxation: Normally, when you relax your muscles with progressive muscle relaxation, you’re in a quiet room, lying down, and starting with your feet to work your way through all your major muscle groups. When you’re about to have a panic attack in the middle of the shopping mall, this may not be an option. Instead, start with your face, where your muscles are likely to tense quickly at the onset of a panic attack. As you’re deep breathing, practice releasing the muscles in your face, your neck, your shoulders, your chest and belly, and then your hips, arms, and legs. If you’ve practiced progressive muscle relaxation frequently before this, you’re more likely to be able to make this work effectively for you at the beginning of a panic attack.

Prevention is the Best Cure

The best way to learn how to control panic attacks is, frankly, not to let them get started. If you struggle with frequent panic attacks, it’s a good idea to get into some therapy, and to start taking supplements like inositol that will help curb the panic attack frequency. Also, avoid panic-triggering items, such as caffeine, and practice all-around lifestyle stress reduction to make panic attacks a less likely possibility in your everyday life.


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