How to Deal with a Panic Attack



Abigail McCoy, Secretary

Mental health is a prevalent issue in this day and age. Around 40 million adults in the United States have some sort of anxiety disorder; this excludes all of the teenagers who have been diagnosed or have self-diagnosed.

Due to anxiety being one of the prevailing mental disorders in the U.S., someone will almost certainly either witness a panic attack or have one themselves at some point in their lifetime. There are many different coping methods that can be used to deal with one, but here are some of the most popular.

First, recognize that it is in fact a panic attack. Sensory overload is a common side effect, as well as heavy or difficult breathing. Once it is clear that it is in fact a panic attack, coping methods should begin.

Breathing techniques often help when one is in such a situation. Breathing in for four seconds, holding for four, and breathing out for four often helps getting labored breathing regular again, or helps get air into the body. Other techniques recommend breathing with different time intervals, but the four second rule is easier to remember and practice when having an anxiety attack.

Grounding oneself is also an easy way to calm down during or after a panic attack. Think of it as a mini game of sensory ISPY. Name five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. The brain starts to focus on this mini game, keeping you in the moment and gradually helps you out of a panic attack.

There are many other techniques but these are the most common and healthiest coping mechanisms for panic attacks without medication. If you believe you may be suffering from a long term anxiety disorder then consulting a doctor or therapist is the way to go.