Health & Lifestyle

How to handle panic assaults after they occur, per psychologists

Hyperventilating, chest pains, sweating and a racing coronary heart are simply a few of the terrifying signs of a panic assault.

One in ten Americans will endure one this yr alone, in line with the Cleveland Clinic, and round one in 50 will endure a number of.

Many victims say it seems like they’re about to die, have a coronary heart assault or ‘go insane’, whereas others say it seems like they’ve misplaced management of their physique. 

But has spoken to 3 psychologists about how one can stop assaults naturally – with out treatment – and the way finest to take care of them in the event that they current:

Mental health experts Dr Ian Stanley, Dr Karen Lynn Cassiday, and Dr Carolyn Rubenstein (pictured left to right) spoke with about some true and true methods for fending off attacks. They include identifying a panic attack matter-of-factly when it hits, slowing down your breath, and distracting yourself from physical symptoms

Mental well being specialists Dr Ian Stanley, Dr Karen Lynn Cassiday, and Dr Carolyn Rubenstein (pictured left to proper) spoke with about some true and true strategies for heading off assaults. They embrace figuring out a panic assault matter-of-factly when it hits, slowing down your breath, and distracting your self from bodily signs


While being fed hackneyed steerage resembling ‘take deep breaths’ can sound trite to somebody experiencing a panic assault or panic dysfunction, it really works, in line with Dr Ian Stanley, a psychologist from the University of Colorado.

He recommends exhaling for a number of seconds longer than inhaling. When one begins to come up, attempt inhaling for a rely of 4 and out for six.

Inhalation is linked to the sympathetic nervous system that prompts the ‘battle or flight’ response. It’s the fuel pedal, in a method.

Meanwhile, exhaling is linked to the parasympathetic nervous system, which is what influences our physique’s potential to settle down. 

Extending the exhale routinely places extra emphasis on the aspect of the nervous system that gives relaxation and leisure.

‘It simply sort of trains the physique to decelerate after which present some physiological suggestions, that the risk is not as imminent as a panic assault makes somebody assume it’s,’ Dr Stanley stated.


Have you tried any of those methods, and do they assist?

  • Yes 38 votes
  • No 35 votes
  • Only typically 22 votes


Dr Carolyn Rubenstein, a Boca Raton, Florida-based psychologist, recommends honing your senses on one thing exterior to function a distraction from the bodily and emotional panic.

‘What I attempt to actually advocate individuals do as a result of it is sort of artistic is considering the rainbow. 

‘And take into consideration searching for three purple issues [in the room or your surroundings], three orange issues, and three yellow, inexperienced, and blue. 

‘And you may even develop that and search for gold and silver and white and black and simply actually sort of have interaction it. It works even in the event you’re driving or in the event you’re on a airplane.

‘It’s actually helpful when it comes to de-escalating as a result of it should hold you engaged and it takes a bit little bit of time. 

‘And it actually does power you to develop your perspective and to get you out of your physique for a couple of minutes to be able to settle down.’

Other useful distractions might embrace listening to feel-good music, dunking one’s face or fingers in ice water, or getting some contemporary air.  


For many individuals, merely figuring out the oncoming panic will be soothing. 

Telling oneself very calmly and matter-of-factly that the physique’s response to some international stimulus is a miscalculation is sufficient to disarm the panic, in lots of circumstances.

Dr Rubenstein stated: ‘You are labeling it, you are taking a look at it, quite than reacting from it. You are coming from a spot of management, quite than signs controlling you.

‘It’s a psychological trick that we use, it sort of brings in logic, and never a lot simply the feelings being in management. 

‘Labeling it’s actually vital to get again that management and it places you again within the driver’s seat for a second, which will be extremely useful once you really feel an entire lack of management.’

Panic assaults aren’t themselves deadly, however experiencing one can really feel like enduring a coronary heart assault and even dying. 

Symptoms are wide-ranging and rely upon the person, however a few of them embrace chest pains, dizziness, nausea, shaking, sweating, speedy heartbeat and hyperventilating, and a profound concern of dropping management.

They sometimes come on quick and might final wherever from 5 to twenty minutes. 

The interval after a panic assault through which the physique and thoughts are recovering can really feel like a nasty hangover.


Dr Karen Lynn Cassiday, Managing Director of the Anxiety Treatment Center of Greater Chicago informed that individuals vulnerable to panic assaults ought to keep good posture and sit up.   

Altered respiration attributable to unhealthy posture induces and exacerbates the extent of tension. 

She stated: ‘What individuals do, and animals too, after they’re in power stress, they get into this concern posture and also you make it arduous to breathe naturally along with your physique and all of the sudden you exhale an excessive amount of carbon dioxide.’ 

Standing or sitting in a assured posture along with your chest puffed and shoulder broad has a psychological increase, enhancing confidence, temper and vitality ranges and decreasing stress, nervousness and despair. 


While the 4:6 technique helps press the brake pedal on panic, Dr Cassiday additionally cautions in opposition to respiration too deeply when within the midst of a panic assault. 

Many individuals within the throes of a panic assault will be capable of keep in mind the oft-given recommendation to breathe profoundly or deeply to regular their coronary heart charge. But when hyperventilating, that’s simpler stated than achieved and in reality exacerbates the issue.

That’s as a result of hyperventilation occurs when individuals breathe so shortly and deeply that they expel an unusually excessive quantity of carbon dioxide, which in flip causes heady signs resembling dizziness that characterize a panic assault. Those signs simulate the sensation of suffocating, which units off a vicious cycle of breathless panic.

Dr Cassiday stated: ‘The worst factor you are able to do is take a giant breath as a result of that solely serves to decrease carbon dioxide ranges even decrease. Breathe slowly and gently via your nostril so it is as quiet as attainable and you may barely hear it behind your throat.’


Anxiety is a typical illness and psychologists and licensed social staff are skilled to educate individuals via it. 

There are loads of remedy choices for panic assaults and panic issues. Cognitive behavioral remedy typically known as speak remedy or psychotherapy is the primary line of remedy for panic dysfunction and panic assaults. 

CBT equips the affected person to raised modify their thought processes and actions to confront and disarm intrusive ideas that result in panic assaults.

Therapy cannot solely assist somebody higher perceive what to do when a panic assault strikes, but additionally find out how to modify their habits and patterns of thought which may immediate a panic assault sooner or later. 

Dr Karen Lynn Cassiday stated {that a} panic assault is ‘Like the time once you have been a child and anyone’s older brother held your head underwater within the swimming pool and also you didn’t assume you’d ever get to the floor.’

‘Having 4 or extra of these signs is de facto overwhelming, that’s why lots of people would possibly assume, I’m having a stroke, I’m going insane, I’m dying, one thing is extremely mistaken with my physique. And the truth is, they’re appropriate, it’s simply none of these issues I’ve simply talked about.’

Many individuals who take care of panic assaults face a relentless concern of being caught off guard by one whereas finishing up regular life features, resembling meals procuring or driving.

Some individuals won’t ever expertise a panic assault. Many individuals will expertise one or two of their lives. But an unfortunate 4.7 % of Americans have panic dysfunction, power nervousness together with frequent panic assaults.

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