How Can I Help Myself During a Panic Attack?

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Those of us who live with panic attacks know just how intense, all-consuming and terrifying they can be. We can find ourselves totally overpowered by the fear, sadness and shame we’re feeling. We can feel as though we’re having a heart attack, losing our minds, or even dying. We might suffer from suicidal thoughts and feel such intense panic that we feel suicide is the only option to find relief from our emotional pain. We can feel as though our panic will never end, and we can fear that we’ll always be in this terrified state. Our panic attacks are usually a result of an unresolved fear or unhealed trauma that is still firmly rooted in our minds and hearts, that we haven’t learned to cope with yet, that is still driving our emotions and causing us distress. A panic attack is a sign we’ve been triggered by something that hasn’t yet been reconciled within us.

There are many holistic methods to working through a panic attack. One of the most powerful and transformative ways to offset the symptoms of panic is meditation. When we practice meditation on a regular basis, we start to have more control of our thoughts. We’re able to slow them down and make better sense of them. We’re able to process and manage our thoughts and feelings so that we’re much less overwhelmed by them. Meditation teaches us that we have more power over our minds than we might have thought. We feel powerless over our thoughts and feelings, especially during a panic attack or when we’re suffering from depression or anxiety. Meditation enables us to reclaim our power over our minds. We’re able to see our thoughts for what they are – many of them are harmless and benign. They are powerless over us unless we give them that power and allow them to control us.

A huge part of meditation is breathing. When we’re experiencing panic, deep breathing can slow down and even eradicate our painful symptoms. A great breathing exercise is 1:2 breathing, where we make our exhale twice as long as our inhale. You can also try alternate nostril breathing, closing one nostril at a time while you exhale through the opposite nostril. Both of these exercises help neutralize the chemical reactions we experience when we’re in a heightened state of stress or panic. We can find ourselves calming down almost immediately with these breathing techniques, and when we practice them regularly, we can help ourselves prevent panic attacks from returning.

Riverside Recovery is committed to helping you uncover the issues fueling your addictions. Our treatment programs include multiple forms of therapy, family workshops and mindfulness-based relapse prevention education. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information.