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How to Handle a Panic Attack

By Jenny Gould, Jun 10 2019 11:42AM

Sudden feelings of panic are very unpleasant - if you’ve ever had what is generally called a panic ‘attack’, you will know that. The first thing to note is that this is not an ‘attack’ in any way. That word is likely to make you feel more anxious and panicky, so call it whatever you like, but don’t call it a ‘panic attack’!


However bad it might feel, panic is not dangerous. You might feel you’re going to choke, have a heart attack or faint, but it is simply an over-enthusiastic stress response. The adrenaline and other stress hormones are released as if your life were being threatened by that lion….but it isn’t. You notice the physical sensations ( e.g. feeling of tightness in your throat) and that leads to a vicious cycle of panicky thoughts and more physical sensations. The feeling will pass (as it always does), and once you give it less importance it immediately seems less threatening.


How to Handle a Panic Attack

No need to be afraid. Flow through it. It will pass as it has before. This will significantly reduce its power.

Move your body. This changes your physiological state.

Tell yourself something positive.

Actively do something else, it doesn’t matter what! Turn your attention elsewhere.


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