“an abrupt surge of intense fear or intense discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes”.
- Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
- Trembling or shaking
- Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
- Feelings of choking
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Nausea or abdominal distress
- Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint
- Chills or heat sensations
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Feeling of unreality or feeling detached from oneself
- Fear of losing control or “going crazy”
- Fear of dying
1. Focus on Your Breathing
- Take slow, deep breaths in through your nose and slow, deep breaths out through your mouth.
- Try closing your eyes to tune out distractions to only focus on your breaths or try focusing on an object while breathing.
2. Ground Yourself
- Use grounding techniques that incorporate the five senses to help move through distress. A favorite is 5-4-3-2-1. What are 5 things you can see? 4 things you can touch? 3 things you can hear? 2 things you can smell? 1 thing you can taste?
- Use an activity to divert attention from your panic sensations such as talking to someone or taking a walk. Keep in mind while distraction offers temporary relief, it is important to acknowledge and work through panic.
- Do relaxing activities that can be used on your own such as progressive muscle relaxation where muscle groups are tensed and then relaxed.
- Find a mantra that speaks to you such as “This too shall pass”.
- Remind yourself that you are having a panic attack and that it’s OK–you are not dying, not crazy, etc.
5. “Ride the Wave”
- Anxiety is here and panic has arrived. At this point, lean into the fear of panic and brace yourself for the wave ahead! Once a wave has arrived, learning how to “ride the wave” and implement coping strategies is the best thing to do.
- Learn interventions in therapy to cope with anxiety and panic, do exposure work to help reduce avoidance, and talk to your doctor about medication options.
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