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Help! I Keep Having Panic Attacks

Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by panic attacks. Panic attacks aren’t limited to psychological distress; rather, panic attacks cause both physical and psychological distress. About 13% of people experience at least one attack in their lifetime.

Here at Allied Psychiatry and Mental Health in Newport Beach, California, we know that panic attacks can come on suddenly without warning and overpower you. But we also know that panic disorder (and other anxiety disorders) are treatable. If you’re overwhelmed with panic attacks, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

In the meantime, board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Hadi Estakhri shares tips for easing panic attacks the moment they strike.

1. Remember it will pass

Panic attacks can cause a racing heartbeat, sweating, nausea, increased anxiety, and feelings of fear. Even though you might feel scared and overwhelmed, try to remind yourself that panic attacks will pass. Most panic attacks start to subside after about 10 minutes.

2. Take deep breaths

During a panic attack, it’s common to experience shallow breathing. This can increase your feelings of anxiety. If possible, try to focus on deep breathing, which can help shift your body out of flight-or-fight mode. 

3. Find a less busy spot

Busy places, sights, or sounds can trigger or intensify a panic attack. If possible, relocate yourself to a more peaceful location e.g., a quiet corner or a separate room, or a quick step outside.

4. Try to ground yourself

Panic attacks can make you feel detached from reality, but grounding exercises can help you stay rooted in the moment. You can focus on an object in the room, or you can try the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding method.

To ground yourself using this method:

If the 5-4-3-2-1 method is too difficult during a panic attack, that’s okay. Instead, simply try to focus on one object in the room.

5. Walk around the room

Movement, such as light walking, can help produce endorphins. Walking can also help relax your mind and calm your breathing.

6. Picture your happy place

It’s a cliche, but it’s a cliche for a reason. When you picture your happy place, your body can start to relax. For example, if your happy place is the beach, imagine how the sand feels against your bare feet, listen to the sounds of the ocean, etc. 

7. Take medications 

If you are prescribed anti-anxiety medication, continue to take it as directed. Medications often used to treat panic attacks include benzodiazepines, serotonin, norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Get help for your anxiety disorder

While the above tips can help you during a panic attack, Dr. Estakhri can help you treat anxiety at the source. Depending on your specific needs, you may benefit from a combination of medicine, psychotherapy, and lifestyle modifications.

If you need help managing panic attacks, we’re here to help. To book an appointment, call our Newport Beach, California office at 949-258-7135 to start exploring your anxiety treatment options. You can also schedule an appointment directly on our website.

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