6 Ways to Cope With a Panic Attack
Panic attacks are mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting and for those who have experienced them, they can be terrifying.  Unfortunately, panic attacks are incredibly common. I, like many, suffer. Even Jennifer Lawrence and Adele have spoken out about their experiences with panic attacks. Almost everyone will experience at least one in their lifetime.
The causes for panic attacks can vary. Many times there are there triggers or stressors that lead someone to have one, however, some may experience panic attacks with no known trigger, increasing the anxiety that accompanies the attack. It can feel impossible to calm an attack when you do not know what is causing it. Attacks typically begin suddenly and can occur at any time. Panic attacks involve a period of intense fear and anxiety that leads to physical symptoms such as racing heart rate, sweating, shortness of breath, nausea, chest pain, or lightheadedness. Physical symptoms vary for all individuals. I feel like I am losing control. My heart pounds, and I cannot catch my breath. I also experience uncontrollable crying and trembling. Stress, family history, preexisting mental health conditions, smoking, and caffeine can increase the risk of having a panic attack. Check out 30 Days of Stress Relief for some awesome stress relief techniques.
If you have experienced an attack, then you know well the difficulties of getting through and relieving the attack.  During an attack, it is easy to feel helpless and like the attack will never end.

Here are a few steps that may help you cope through an attack.
Keep a panic attack note book. 
Keep a panic attack note book. When you are not having a panic attack, write down all the things in your life that make you feel happy and calm. You can even write a specially mantra or message to yourself. When you are experiencing your panic attack, focus your attention on what you have written.

It can be hard to bring your mind out of the attack. However, visualization can help to calm the panic. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in the place where you feel most safe. Visualize that you are there and that you are panic-free.
Step outside.
 It may help to remove yourself from your current environment. You can move to another room, or even head outside for some fresh air. If you’re able, it can also help to go for a walk. Remember though, leaving your environment may not eliminate the stress that exists there.

Remind yourself where you are.
You may want to try bringing yourself back to the present. Look around you. Focus on the concrete things that are around you. One technique that works for some is to focus on 5 things you see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you hear, 2 things you can smell, and one thing you taste.
If you do not experience panic attacks, but know someone who does, there are a few things you can do to help them through it.
  • Never tell them to calm down. This is will not help, and often will make the panic worse.
  • They may need you to sit there silently while they work through it, give this to them if they need it.
  • If appropriate offer a hug or hand to hold.
  • Remind them that they are safe.  
This may be the hardest tip, but it is so important. However, if you try to accept that the attack is happening rather than trying to fight it, it can help you to get through it easier. Try to remember that this feeling will fade. Try to take it one minute at a time.

Focus on your breathing.
It is easy to lose control of your breathing and begin to hyperventilate during a panic attack. Try focusing your attention on breathing in intervals. Breath in for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds, and exhale for 5 seconds. Not only will this help to calm your breathing, but it also distracts your mind.
While these tips may help some through panic attacks, this is not a definitive lists. Try doing anything that helps to make you feel calm or safe. If these tips, or other techniques do not work, it may be helpful to visit your doctor. If panic attacks become frequent or interfere with your life, please speak with your health care provider.  

Amanda grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, IL but is now enjoying living in Louisville, KY. She received her bachelors degree at Northern Illinois University where she acted as a resident advisor and mentor to fellow students. This was where she found her passion for wellness and helping others. She went on to study community health and receive her Masters of Education at the University of Louisville. During her studies, she focused her graduate research on programming for mental health and youth wellness. She also acts as an advocate for mental health and suicide prevention. She has always enjoyed using her voice and knowledge to educate and advocate about important health topics. Amanda spends much of her time employed as a nanny for three wonderful children.

When she is not busy promoting health education or chasing around the kids, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, playing with her Pomeranian, Sulley, or indulging in a great book. Amanda thrives on helping to educate others about important health issues and effective health related behaviors so they can live happier and healthier lives!