Unfortunately, there is no easy solution for preventing an oncoming panic attack. Panic attacks are typically triggered by stress, although sometimes no warning or trigger is necessary to bring one on. You may be able to reduce the effects of an oncoming panic attack and eventually stop the attack by breathing deeply and trying to relax. Many people use a paper bag to help their breathing. There are, however, a number of things you can do to help prevent future panic attacks.
Short-Term Methods for Preventing Panic Attacks
The following methods are not meant to prevent a panic attack that you feel is about to hit, but rather meant to help prevent them throughout the day and week.
• Spend 10-20 minutes breathing deeply each day.
• Engage in relaxation exercises and/or meditation exercises. Yoga is a powerful practice that is known to help people relax.
• Each time you experience a negative thought, shout “STOP!” inside your head. This stops the flow of emergency messages from your brain to your adrenal glands that often trigger panic attacks.
• Identify the emotion(s) you feel and the reason why you feel it, and then validate that emotion.
• Replace negative feelings with positive feelings by making a positive statement that is as strong as (or stronger than) the negative thought.
Long-Term Methods for Preventing Panic Attacks
• Exercise regularly every week, ideally between 20-30 minutes three times a week. Even walking is an effective form of exercise for reducing stress and anxiety.
• Talk to a therapist about your panic attacks and strategies for reducing stress. Therapists often specialize in panic attack treatment and can help you make a plan.
• Consider medications that may be helpful to you, although consult with your therapist about medications that you’re already taking, because the combination of certain medications can actually increase anxiety.
• Join a panic disorders group to obtain support from other people experiencing the same thing. The Anxiety Disorders Association of America provides information about such groups on its webpage.
• Work to gradually improve your outlook on the world by developing a more positive mentality. Write down positive thoughts daily and make lists of things you are thankful for. Intentionally seek to be positive whenever possible. Make efforts to focus more on other people rather than yourself, which can be achieved by volunteering or engaging in social or community groups. A more positive mentality reduces stress and anxiety and improves mood.
The University Behavioral Health of El Paso specializes in panic attack treatment and other mental health issues. Visit Ubhelpaso.com or call (915) 544-4000 for more information.