If you suffer from panic attacks, you’ve probably heard a myriad of so-termed solutions, all of them different. You may be wondering, “Which solution is the right solution?”
The truth is that just like people themselves, panic is not a one-size-fits-all issue. Though the choices may seem confusing, it’s a positive thing that there are so many different things to try. This way, you can find the one, or ones, that work for you and for your panic.
Don’t knock them — herbs really can help you with panic attacks.
- Valerian root: Valerian root has long been used as a sleep aid due to its sedative properties. Used in small doses, this calming effect can help ease panic attacks and general anxiety. It’s great for “racing thoughts” too.
- Passion flower: Passion flower works on the central nervous system to calm the physical effects of a panic attack.
- Kava kava: Another herb often used as a sleep aid. It calms restlessness and nervous agitation.
- Lavender: Try this as an essential oil or diluted (dab it on your wrists and neck) for a generalized feeling of calm.
Don’t underestimate these, either. In our experience, the single most life-changing tool for stopping panic attacks (or getting through them) is what you have “up there” … your mind.
- Tell yourself that you will not die from a panic attack. Panic attacks are so terrifying, you may feel you’re actually dying, particularly if you get physical symptoms such as a racing heartbeat. As bad as it feels, your panic attack will not physically hurt you. It has to end some time — there has never been a recorded panic attack that went on and on without ending.
- Don’t run. Running away signals your body that there really is something to be terrified of. Stay where you are; go off unobtrusively into a corner for a little privacy if you want to be less conspicuous. Panic attacks end. You don’t need to run in order for that to happen, even if it feels like it. If in the past you’ve run away at the onset of a panic attack, and noted that afterward, it ended, please note that it absolutely, positively was going to end anyway.
- Calm your breathing. DO NOT take overly deep breaths. This will produce the opposite effect – hyperventilation. Take calm, slow, even breaths and wait a beat or two between each one. Breathing regularly rather than the typical shallow, quick breathing that accompanies a panic attack signals your subconscious that there is nothing to physically be afraid of right now.
- Don’t try to “fight” your panic attack. Fighting, whether literally or figuratively, signals your brain that there is something terrible going on. You want to feel less terrible, not more so. As hard as it is at first (this gets easier), go with the feelings. Rise up to meet them and feel them at their peak. They will go down; they have to. There is no such thing as an indefinite panic attack. But you can make yours shorter than it otherwise would have been by not fighting and hence producing more adrenaline, more fear and more panic.
If you’re debilitated by your attacks, it may take a few times out in situations while feeling calm to change things for you. For many people, this means, at one time or another, prescription medications. Ask your doctor. Xanax and Valium are popular on-the-spot meds that can stop a panic attack in its tracks.
Never take higher than the dosage your doctor prescribed and never take them proactively (in advance) except under the advice of your doctor. These can be habit-forming.
Counseling & Self Help
You may have felt hurt, embarrassed and traumatized by your panic attacks. Talk to a counselor or therapist with experience in this area. Don’t be hesitant to try this — we all need someone to talk to. Self-help guides and systems to help control your panic can definitely help out, too – one such system is Panic Away.
Your counselor may also uncover reasons behind your panic attacks. Once you get to the heart of those, you may be able to address your panic issues more calmly. Knowledge is always power. Use it.
Remember that you are not weak. It takes a huge amount of strength and courage to have a panic attack and get through to the other side. If anything, you’re stronger and braver than the general population.
Respect yourself — you have an illness that you’re working through. Be proud; you are a survivor, and you’re going to come out on top.