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The Transition House, Inc.

How you can overcome your panic attacks


Panic disorders are characterized by debilitating anxiety and fear that can rear its ugly head at a moment's notice. People who have panic disorders often wait in fear of their next panic attack. If you suffer from panic attacks, you know these attacks can happen anywhere at any time.

Most panic attacks last about 20 to 30 minutes, and very rarely last longer than an hour. A full-blown panic attack includes a combination of the following signs and symptoms: Heart palpitations or a racing heart, chest pain or discomfort, feeling dizzy, light-headed, or faint, numbness or tingling sensations, hot or cold flashes, fear of dying, and losing control. In order to help you fight some of these symptoms, here are a few tips on things to avoid and ways to keep calm when you're experiencing a panic attack.

The worst thing you can do is ignore what is happening to your body. The first step in calming yourself down is acknowledging your anxiety and the panic that is occurring. Of course, this doesn’t mean to embrace the panic, just simply realize it exists. Acknowledge the fact that you are afraid, but not in danger. Remind yourself of this. The more you resist the panic, the worse it will become.

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You might be tempted to just try not to think about it. In theory, this might seem like a good idea, but in reality, avoiding the cause of your panic attack could cause it to resurface the next time you are facing your trigger(s). Breathe and count to 10 to yourself, wait, and think before you react. Let yourself wait a moment and realize what is happening. Then, talk to yourself silently about what is happening and what you need to do. Answer your fears…”So what if X happens?” ... “Well, if X happens, I will be afraid, then I will calm down again.” Remind yourself that this state of panic is not permanent.

As with the majority of anxiety, panic attacks are based upon fears about the future. The best way to combat those fears is to live in the present moment and remind yourself that your fears are not actually happening. Engage in the environment around you and try to bring yourself back to the present moment after your panic attack has passed. Living presently may not solve your panic attacks, but it can place you on the right path.

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