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Panic Attack | Help!

Waking up in the middle of the night, my heart pounding and unable to catch my breath. Thoughts are rushing through my head, “Am I dying?”, “I must be having a heart attack”, Of course this is happening, I am not meant to feel good”. Sometimes I am overwhelmed with emotion, other times I am just scared for my life.

Most people will experience a panic attack at some point in their lives, for some people they are a regular occurrence - especially when the stresses and anxieties of life become too much. They look different for everyone but can be frightening, both for the person and anyone trying to help them through it.

Dealing with the stress and anxiety that lies at the root of panic attacks is really the only way to prevent them from happening but what can we do in the moment to calm ourselves down and can control again?

Take control of your breathing - take slow, complete breaths and count while you do so if it helps. This will help you to relax.

Replace any panic filled thoughts with calming ones. Remind yourself that nothing bad is happening to you - it’s a panic attack and it will end. Some examples might be, “I am fine, everything is fine”, “I am loved and I have people who want to help me” or “Keep breathing and this will pass”.

Don’t try and run away from the situation you are in, focus on mastering your emotions, and give yourself time to come back to being in control. It’s ok to go for a walk, or take a moment outside, but always come back to where you were.

Identify the emotions you are feeling and work out why you are feeling them. Validate those emotions - for example, “I am fearful because I may lose my job and that reminds me I need to take control and look for other options.”

Change your focus - pull your thoughts away from your panic, or maybe a task that might be causing the issue and focus on other things going on around you, listening to music that calms you down or use other redirection techniques.

If you are experiencing panic attacks regularly, then seek help from your doctor or mental health professional so they can help you get to the root of what is going on.

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