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You can’t always prevent panic attacks, but the good news is that they usually pass on their own after 5 to 30 minutes.
When a panic attack strikes, it’s generally best to ‘ride the wave’ rather than try to resist it. But this doesn’t mean that there’s nothing you can do to make the experience less intense - there is.
If you ever find yourself in the grips of a panic attack again, try the following tips.
Your first impulse may be to over-breathe (hyperventilate) and panic even more, but remain where you are (if you’re in a safe place and the attack has come on unexpectedly), sit down if possible and take long, slow, deep breaths.
If you over-breathe during a panic attack you’ll blow out too much carbon dioxide, which can make symptoms, like dizziness or tingling in the hands and fingers, worse.
While a panic attack can feel like it will last forever, it won’t. Reminding yourself of this during an attack may help you to feel calmer and, in turn, ease your symptoms.
It’s also worth remembering that while the symptoms of a panic attack are often frightening, they are caused by anxiety and don’t mean that anything harmful is happening to you. Tell yourself this during an attack, as doing so may help you calm down.
When a panic attack starts, it may be tempting to try and distract yourself, but it’s actually better to do the opposite. Confront the event, stay aware of what’s happening and don’t fight your symptoms. Taking this approach can help you prove to yourself that a panic attack will pass and nothing bad will happen to you.
Once you’ve got your breathing under control and the anxiety starts to pass, you can then begin to focus your attention on your surroundings and continue what you were doing before the attack.
For more information on what to do during a panic attack to help bring your symptoms under control, read these self-help techniques.
You may feel tired or even exhausted after a panic attack. As you recover, it’s important to continue as you did before - try not to restrict your movements out of fear that being in or going to a particular place may bring on another panic attack.
Instead, try the following actions to help prevent further panic attacks:
There are also things you can do to help manage your anxiety, which should lower your risk of having another panic attack.
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If you are, download our app to learn more about what anxiety is and what you can do to help yourself.
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Panic attacks | Health Information | Bupa UK [Internet]. Bupa.co.uk. 2020 [cited 24 January 2020]. Available here.
Get help with anxiety, fear or panic [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2020 [cited 11 February 2020]. Available here.
Cold F, Health E, Disease H, Disease L, Management P, Conditions S et al. Slideshow: Ways to Stop a Panic Attack [Internet]. WebMD. 2020 [cited 11 February 2020]. Available here.
Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.