How To Stop A Panic Attack While It's Happening: Getting Over Panic Attacks

If you're reading this article, there's a good chance you're living with some form of anxiety disorder at the moment. And if that's the case, you'll also know how difficult it can be to find a good method to get the anxiety to stop, and there's a good reason for this. When anxiety starts up, it totally occupies your mind. It's so powerful and consuming that very little that you think or do even gets noticed by you or your mind. That's why all the tips and tricks you normally try when your panic starts make very little difference. If this all sounds familiar to you then you need to try something else, something different: distraction techniques.

What can you do to stop constant anxiety and fear? Is it possible to stop panic attacks without medication?

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A distraction technique is simply anything you can do, or anything you can expose yourself to, that gets past the panic and occupies your mind for long enough to allow your panic to fade. Not all methods will work, though, since the panic blocks most of the things around you from getting inside you deeply enough to occupy your mind. So you need to choose your distraction techniques carefully. You also need to test them out on yourself to see which work best for you.

So what should you try as distraction techniques? The best distraction techniques are those that distract your senses in a strong way. Your senses, especially your senses of sight and sound, play a huge role in how you feel and where your emotions are, so it makes sense to use distractions that really occupy these senses. When you expose yourself to visual things that are compelling or unusual, it's hard for your mind to stay centred totally on anything, and that includes panic and anxiety. The same goes for strange sounds, or loud sounds. When your mind has to process sounds like these, a part of you has to focus on them, and therefore that part of your mind is no longer focusing on the panic.

You can start trying out these distraction techniques for yourself right away. All you need to do is expose yourself to strange sights and sounds when you feel your anxiety increasing. This might be with music, optical illusions, or foreign TV and radio stations (listening to languages you don't understand really scrambles your mind and is great at interrupting anxiety). The key is to start trying things, because eventually you'll come across something that works great for you. And when you stumble onto a distraction technique that works for you, it is often one you can depend on for years.

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Here are 7 of the questions I'm most asked about Generalized Anxiety Disorder...


GAD is a chronic condition which leaves the sufferer with overwhelming anxiety and fear on a daily basis. They are normally fully aware they are continually anxious and fearful, but can't stop themselves from worrying and thinking the worst about a variety of things, situations and events, in a way that far outweighs their significance.


To be diagnosed with general anxiety disorder you usually have had to had the symptoms continually for at least 6 months. GAD normally develops gradually over time. It most often first appears in childhood or adolescence, although it can strike in adults. It is more common in females than males and if there has been GAD in the family line before, you are more at risk.


Apart from the symptoms such as always being stressed and unable to relax, there are other signs such as sleeping problems, headaches, irritability, lightheadedness, nausea, hot flashes, sweating, twitching, shaking, depression, etc. There may also be a frequent need to urinate.


This is a tough one, as there is a variety of medical opinion on it. But there seems to be a common understanding that generalized anxiety disorder may be caused by genetics (family history), brain chemistry (chemical imbalances in the brain) or environmental conditions (death in the family, changing jobs / school, abuse, the use / withdrawal from addictive drugs, etc.).

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Most people will be prescribed drug-based medications to help manage their mood and calm them down. Typical are antidepressants and tranquilizers, although beta-blockers can be given for some of the more physical symptoms.


They can be effective for many patients, but they are used to help 'manage' your condition, so there is no guarantee that when treatment is stopped you won't relapse back into your condition. They do have some nasty side effects like nausea, stomach problems, drowsiness, slurred speech, confusion, dizziness, lightheadedness, memory loss, blurred vision, and so on. And, of course, there can be long term dependency issues.


There are many alternative therapies for GAD such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), modelling treatment, psychotherapies, hypnotherapy, counselling, etc. Talk to your doctor about these other options. And there are homeopathic and herbal remedies that more and more sufferers are turning to as well. Talk to your local experts in these fields for expert information.

But the key to curing General Anxiety Disorder is to get rid of the continual fear that is carried around. This fear is so profound that it can actually trigger panic attacks. And the symptoms of panic attacks are so horrifying that your fear increases even more because you don't want to have another attack. This has been referred to as your anxiety cycle, which needs to be broken to get to a permanent cure.

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Below are three key questions you need to know the answers to, if you want to know how to stop panic attacks. I will give you those questions, and then offer analysis on the correct answer. But there is an assumption here, and that is that you have already been diagnosed with panic attacks, and are aware of the symptoms...

1. When I feel a panic attack coming on I...
(a) panic because I know how terrifying the symptoms are
(b) think that this time I will have a heart attack or die
(c) don't panic because I know a panic attack cannot harm me

The correct answer is (c). It is a medical fact that a panic attack cannot harm you. The symptoms are just the result of your body making various chemical and other changes in your body during its 'flight or fight' response to a perceived danger. But there was no danger, it's just that your body misinterpreted your high stress and anxiety as a sign that you were in danger.

2. During a panic attack I...
(a) breath deeply and slowly expanding my chest as much as possible
(b) breath deeply, slowly and rhythmically using my abdomen as well as my chest
(c) get as many breaths in as I can

The correct answer here is (b). During a panic attack you hyperventilate, which upsets your normal oxygen / carbon dioxide balance which then causes some of the symptoms of the attack, e.g. dizziness, lightheadedness, and a feeling of being detached from reality. You get this back in balance by returning to your normal breathing pattern. But you must use all of your lung capacity, hence the vital need to inflate and deflate using your diaphragm as well as you chest.

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3. And during an attack I...
(a) don't analyse my symptoms but focus on external things
(b) analyse my symptoms to see how bad they are and if they are getting worse
(c) wonder if they are the same symptoms as I had in my last attack

Answer (a) is the correct response. By analysing and focussing on your symptoms (that can sometimes come and go in waves) you are increasing your fear and trepidation, which only increases the intensity and time-span of your attack. So you must concentrate and focus on external images like buildings, vehicles, trees, people, indeed anything of interest that will take your focus away from your symptoms.

If you got all three correct then well done indeed! You are well on course to be able to control and reduce the intensity of your attacks. But even if you didn't, then you too are now in a much better position with that knowledge.

Now that you know how to control your attacks, what about stopping them altogether? So let me ask you another question...

What do you think is the key issue that has to be overcome in order to prevent panic attacks ever happening again? Any idea? No?

The answer is your 'fear' of having your next attack! And it's no wonder, because the symptoms are just so frightening that nobody in their right mind would want to go through that again. Now, this fear can be subconscious or conscious, it doesn't matter which, because it's there nonetheless.

And here's the thing... your fear of another panic attack can actually cause one! Remember that your attacks are caused by very highly elevated anxiety levels, so fear just adds another layer on top which pushes your overall levels even higher. The result? Another panic attack!

This is your vicious cycle of anxiety, which you need to break-out of, in order to stop panic attacks happening in the first place.

You can't breathe, your thoughts are racing, and you might even feel like you're having a heart attack. You've tried medication, but it's not working like it used to--or it never worked at all. You can't stand the anxiety and panic any more, and you want a solution that works: Click Here

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The correct breathing technique can be very effective when trying to put an end to a panic attack. Your breathing pattern sets the tone for what is to follow. If your breathing is rushed and shallow, your nervous system will respond by adding more adrenaline flow through your veins.

This will only put you more on edge which is not what we're looking for when we are trying to stop panic. However, it is shallow breathing panic helps perpetuate. So, what can we do about this? In this article, we will discuss how to get into a breathing pattern that will bring about relaxation.


Eastern beliefs tell us air is parna and parna is life. So, this belief concludes, the more air you breathe properly, the more life you will have. Though I can see my doctor rolling his eyes at this statement, this belief has passed the test of time for thousands of years, so there just might be something to it.

Putting Eastern beliefs aside, there is no question learning how to breathe calmly brings about calmness. There is more to overcoming panic attacks than breathing properly but proper breathing sets the tone for us to stop panic.

This means we should be aware of our breathing at all times. When we find ourselves taking quick, shallow breaths, we should consciously change this breathing pattern. Of course, if we are doing aerobic exercise, we should not try to force our breathing into a different pattern.

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Proper Breathing is Deep Breathing

Especially when we feel a panic attack is imminent, we should practice deep breathing exercises. Normally this would entail sitting or lying down comfortably and remembering to loosen up our muscles. Tightening up muscles will not stave off panic, it will make it worse. If a panic attack is to come, make up your mind you will accept it and let it run its course without trying to fight it.

As you relax your muscles and sit or lie as comfortably as you can, start breathing in through the nose to the count of five. Then, hold your breath to the count of five. You should exhale even more slowly than you inhaled. If you inhaled to the count of five, exhale to the count of nine or ten, or possibly even longer. When breathing to stop panic, you should always exhale through the mouth. The proper breathing technique is in through the nose and out through the mouth.

As you breathe in, expand your stomach. Try not to keep all the air in your chest. In other words, don't raise your shoulders as you breathe in; let your abdomen expand. Also, when breathing out, you will contract your stomach. After breathing this way for 6 or 7 breaths, start to breathe comfortably shallow once again but continue to expand your abdomen on your inhales. You may breathe in through the nose and out through the nose at this point if you would like to.

There is no correct time period for using this breathing technique. Just use it as long as you're comfortable doing so. Also, breathing is only a part of a process used to end panic attacks forever. Still, it is a very important part of overcoming panic because mastering it will steal a large portion of panic's muscle away.

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