What to Do During an Anxiety Attack

Jan 3, 2018 | Anxiety, Blog

Anxiety Attack
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“>Thankfully I’ve been able to get on top of my anxiety and I’m going to share some tips for how you can cope with anxiety attacks too.

What Causes an Anxiety Attack?Anxiety Attack

Before I share my tips for what to during an anxiety attack, it’s helpful to know why they happen in the first place.

It all starts with your brain zeroing in on a ‘threat’ and activating the fight-or-flight response. This coincides with an adrenaline boost, which brings on the typical symptoms of a panic attack.

This would be quite a good thing if you were facing actual danger but because the threat is a perceived danger and not real, these kinds of symptoms just cause more panic, especially if they have come on all of a sudden and don’t feel as though they are a response to anything.

The end result? The symptoms lead you to believe you are seriously ill or actually dying and you’re having a full blown anxiety attack.

Anxiety AttackIt can often be the case that you’ll worry about whether you’ll have another anxiety attack and this can actually trigger another anxiety attack.

Often, an anxiety attack will happen when you’re under a good deal of stress, though not always. The very first time you experience an anxiety attack will often come completely out of the blue and future experiences will often follow the same pattern.

Anxiety Centre describes them as an ‘involuntary anxiety attack’ that is caused by chronic stress that puts the body in high-stress mode and can encourage an anxiety attack for no obvious reason.

There is also a ‘voluntary anxiety attack’ which is triggered by worries that something bad will happen, which activates the stress response. This is a bit more obvious with regards to the trigger.

What to Do During an Anxiety Attack

Once an anxiety attack begins, it can be difficult to stop it in its tracks as the physical effects are already in motion. What you can do is to try to make the symptoms less intense and stop it reaching its peak.

Understand why they happen

If you have a good idea of why they happen, how the stress response works and what it does to your body, a lot of the fear of the unknown automatically disappears.

Fear is one of the big reasons why anxiety attacks happen and this keeps the fear cycle going. If you can tell yourself that an anxiety attack is a normal response to your mind having perceived a threat and that it isn’t anything to be overly concerned about health-wise, you can feel more in control of the situation and how you react.

Another important thing to recognise is that your anxiety attack will end. It won’t keep going on indefinitely and the quicker you can calm yourself, the sooner it will start to decrease in intensity.

Distract yourself

It can be hard to focus on anything other than how you’re feeling during an anxiety attack and this can intensify symptoms.

If you can refocus your mind away from it, this can be a way to reduce the severity of your symptoms.

When you feel panic setting in, distracting yourself from it can stop you getting too caught up in your own mind.

Walk around a bit

This can be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re shaky and panicky but if you’re able to move around a bit, it can be a good way to cope with an anxiety attack.

It encourages the blood to flow more and increases carbon dioxide levels a bit too so you you don’t hyperventilate as much.

Release some tension

If you can start to relax, you can effectively close off the stress response and bring an anxiety attack to an end.

One of the easiest but most effective ways to do this involves slow, controlled breathing. This helps to calm the mind and body. Anxiety Centre recommends breathing from your diaphragm in particular. This is something that you can do pretty much anywhere that an anxiety attack may strike.

Psych Central recommends using yoga or gentle stretching as a way to relieve some of the tension in your body.

How do you cope with an anxiety attack? I’d love to get your tips on what you do during an anxiety attack to help to move through it.

 

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22 Comments

  1. Nicole Clarke

    Understanding why they happen is an essential step to battling your anxiety attacks. I had to reflect on myself before I found peace.

    Reply
  2. Gajanan

    Whenever Anxiety Attack is there, I feel, it is end of the world for me. I then try to go on net for some help. Finally I can suggest, distraction and yoga breathing techniques do work. Nothing to worry about.

    Reply
  3. Jeffrey

    My anxiety attack comes and go – I always think that there is something wrong with my heart when they hit. I still have them quite often, most of the time triggered by stepping into uncomfortable environments (e.g. a very warm vehicle, places with loud noises), and even though I can stop it reaching its peak (which is full blown BP spike and a visit to A&E) it still takes me maybe half an hour to calm down. Is there a way to recover quicker?

    Reply
    • Deb

      Hi Jeffrey,
      I’m in the middle of a panic attack right now. I know exactly how you feel. I always feel like it’s my heart too. It scares the crap out of me and I feel helpless, restless and unhinged. I take medication and it helps but it never seems fast enough. I’m trying to distract myself by writing to you. Distraction is my best weapon. Well, the meds actually but they also take a little too long when I’m feeling this way. Distraction helps while I wait for the meds to kick in. I’ve tried a number of different kinds but the only one that really helps is Xanax, I know what you go through and it is awful. Get a good psychiatrist (ps you’re not crazy) to help you find something to get you through the crisis times. I know a lot of people are anti-medication but the peace of mind it brings me is priceless. I’ve been suffering from these for years. YEARS. It’s hellish but once it passes, I almost feel stupid- like I over-reacted. And then I get one and I remember what all the hubbub was about. My heart goes out to you. If it’s any consolation, taking the time to read your post and writing back to you has helped me right now.

      Reply
      • Abeer

        Hi Deb, i am going through frequent episodes myself. N i found this post and your comment helped me to undersrand that i am not alone in my symptoms. I m trying to get myself a good physiologist. In the meanwhile, my GP has prescribed me Valium to take when needed. My heart shoots abnormally high. They say its normal. But it feels the worst thing ever. Like i m going to die instantly. It has led me to this condition that now even a smallspike in heart rate causes me to go crazy that its gonna shoot too much. This is the worst thing i have ever experienced. I actually believe that i m going to die very soon becase of it. I hv two little kids. It makes me very sad for them. I know i need help.

        Reply
  4. Wmlx

    Hi. I would like to ask you if you ever felt lightheaded, shaky, weak out of breath and phlem in the chest kind of stomach irritation? Thanks for your time.

    Reply
    • byunnie

      i do feel the same. but sometimes i might end up crying out of blue.

      Reply
    • Carrie

      Hello! I definitely have this problem during anxiety attacks as well. I’m currently on daily anxiety medication that help reduce the frequency of these attxks – they used to happen almost daily – but I still have them occasionally. They always used to make me think I had a breathing problem because I felt so lightheaded and shaky, my chest hurt and my breathing felt weirdly tight. The best thing I’ve found for them is to walk away from people, somewhere empty and quiet. The quiet and the light movement makes me feel a lot calmer.

      Reply
      • Jay

        Hello I feel very great but I cannot breath to good and I know im
        Having an anxiety attacks

        Reply
  5. Korey

    My anxiety attacks are quite often and it makes me feel like I’m dying or want to be dead just so it will stop I understand why I have it but anytime I try to tell myself to calm down or just try to relax I go back to the same way I know I need professional help just don’t want to be doped on pills and weed usually intensifys it so I stay away from it

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hi, WMLX
      ive had multiple anxiety attacks and I’ve had those exact same symptoms and feelings. You are not alone, and you’ve actually given me ease of mind because I thought I was the only one who felt those symptoms. You just have to breathe and distract yourself in the moment. I know its hard to do in the moment but the feeling will pass, I guarantee it. Thank you, also keep staying strong brother!

      Reply
  6. L.G. Swift

    Reliving a past experience in yoyr mind can bring on an anxiety attack. Like feeling of regret and hopeless ness. The best to do is to read scripture and know that God is in control.

    Reply
  7. Steve

    My anxiety attacks often cause great tension in my neck. I can barely look left or right and it travels up through my head. I also struggle to make eye contact with people but have never heard of anyone else having symptoms like it. Anyone else?

    Reply
    • Tessa

      I know what that feels like. It sucks. 🙁

      Reply
  8. Pradeep Kumar

    I am at another level of anxiety,
    When anxiety attack hit me I feel like my heart is going to explode, my mouth starts drying, my brain nerves starts penetrating and it feels like I can count, also my BP spiks like never before, my whole body starts severing, it’s even hard to breath, this is usually happens in midnight. It’s really a torcher. Like I feel now I am trying to distract myself by writing this post.
    Please advise me if anyone face the same problem and overcome with it.
    Pradeep

    Reply
    • John

      I I’m 12 and I’m starting to have anxiety attacks and you know what I can’t be bothered living because everything feels weird shake your everything zooms in and out and Ithe triggers when I go to the park

      Reply
      • Chloe B

        Hi Johmn – please go and speak to your doctor – you eont feel this way forever and it is possible to get better – please get some help x

        Reply
  9. Smith H.

    I can’t cope with the pain of my break up. Can’t eat or sleep, I feel depressed. Can’t sleep without the sleeping pills. And to make things worse I think I’m getting addicted to them. How can I make myself feel better and sleep better?

    Reply
  10. Victoria

    Hey, I wish I could say this is helpful, but the reason that I’m on this website is because I’m in the wake of a panic attack RIGHT NOW, and I really needed some guidance. I actually got it because I had a really terrible nightmare where things just disappeared into the void, and I woke up and had an attack shortly after.

    Reply
  11. Yadira

    I am in the midst of a panic attack, I started having them since my son was born out of the blue. I never in my life experienced this until now am 30. sucks really bad bc I don’t know how to control it. I’ve gotten it before but i kinda got a grip on it and it would pass. Right now am on day 3 and still feeling like this, am shaky, nervousness, I feel like I want to vomit, can’t eat right. My mom tells me to read the Bible and get closer to God, I just can’t seem to concentrate. I watched a show that triggered the way am feeling and since then I can’t seem to shake it off. It scares me really bad. I’ve had thought I shouldn’t have. I want professional help but don’t want the meds at all. I want to fight through this but right now as am having my anxiety attack I just feel hopeless. All these symptoms dry mouth I feel my head is going to explode or like my heart is going to give out. I moved to another state and am far from my family and it’s not possible to see them often, my husband works his butt off. We actually moved to start a business and all his time goes into the business. I really have no one to truly lean on. And am shy so it makes it really bad to make new friends. I really haven’t made any since we moved 3 yrs ago. Which that’s another reason why i feel lonely and like i have no one to talk to. But as am writing this I can say I have calmed down a bit so it’s been helpful.

    Reply
  12. Anne

    I’m reading your reply in 2019. And I think I just went through one. I’ve had one more intense than this one right now, and I can really relate with what you are saying here. The last one happened right before I was about to go to bed and that one today was right when I was taking my noon break while watching a Korean series. Acknowledgment is the key. And I feel better after a good release in the loo (i think its my body’s response to the anxiety I’m going through, which is good for me). I think I’m down to 30% of the anxiety levels while writing this. Getting this kind of connection with others who go through the same experience lifts most of the burden. Hanging in here with everyone else.

    Reply
  13. JACOB LOWE

    Hay i have anxiety attacks too dam often I feel like my heart is not beating or not even in my chest pain in my chest that is very uncomfortable like my throat will crush its self from the in side out i get really bad pins and needle in my face arms and legs and often feel like I cant breath or having a asthma attack and i want to scream and cry when i have one but im too scared to cry or scream I’ve been on numerous medications and im now looking at cbt as a therapy for it could some one please give me advice as to temporary options to make it easier people suggest i should take valium (benzodiazepines) but i dont like the idea of taking such a addictive prescription as it’s only good for the short term and can quite often over REGULAR use enhance attacks this is playing my life is their anything I can do to ease it till my medical professionals find a effective form of treat ment

    Reply

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