Preparing for a Panic Attack | Center for Growth Therapy

Preparing for a Panic Attack

Alex , CAS, MSW, ACSW, LCSW — Founder & executive director

Panic Attack Treatment in Philadelphia, Ocean City, Mechanicsville, Santa Fe: Preparing for a Panic Attack

Be Prepared: as a sufferer of Panic Attacks you know how suddenly they can appear. Preparation can be a key to helping you manage and ideally eradicate your future attacks.

Preparing for a panic attack: you will want to practice your selected intervention on a regular basis, especially when you are “attack free.” This allows your body, mind, and emotions, to experience and plan for the future. Your practice will make it easier when an attack hits, to identify and concentrate on your personally developed intervention. It is important to find methods that work for you, although the controlled relaxed breathing seems to play a major role in healing as often those who experience a Panic Attack either hyperventilate or breathe very shallow. Deep, relaxed, controlled breathing helps to bring the body and mind into focus, and provide sufficient oxygen throughout the body, alleviating faintness or lightheadedness.

Deep controlled breathing exercise is a critical step in preparing for a panic attack - There are many variations of this technique, and you may find a different method that may work for you.

  • Begin by sitting or lying in a comfortable position. Close your eyes.
  • Place one hand on your stomach, and inhale deeply and slowly. Feel your hand rise on the inhale.
  • Now exhale slowly feeling your hand go down.
  • As you become accustomed to deep controlled breathing, you may begin to count or add a meditation phrase or word. For example, breath in slowly, count 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10, hold for a brief
    count of 3-5, then exhale slowly for a count of 10.
  • Practice this breathing method throughout your day, and in a variety of places, so that you can readily call on this technique whenever and wherever a Panic Attack may occur.

Self-Guided Imagery/Visualization-Again there are many variations of this meditative technique.

  • Begin by finding a comfortable, quiet spot.
  • Close your eyes and begin controlled breathing.
  • As you concentrate on your breathing, you will begin to feel your body relax.
  • Continue breathing and visualize yourself at a place that has always brought you calm or peace (perhaps a beach)
  • See your place in your mind. Look around your visualization and observe what you see. Sea gulls calling on the shoreline, the frothy foam of the waves meeting the beach, the smell of ocean, and the mist from its waves.
  • See yourself there relaxing, enjoying all there is.
  • Continue your breathing and observations.
  • Gradually increase your awareness to your present surroundings.
  • Open your eyes and remember your special place whenever you need to go there.

Another form of visualization actually involves visualizing yourself in the place or situation to which you have experienced a panic attack previously. With this type you include the controlled breathing, but you visualize yourself in the “panic producing place/situation,” and actually “see” yourself in control, relaxed, and enjoying yourself, without panic.

Mediations/guided meditation-There are many variations on meditation and a lot of commercially produced programs that you can use.

  • Begin by identifying some key words or phrases that you wish to positively focus on for your mediations. Make it simple and easy to remember. For example, the word “peace,” or “calm,” or phrases such as; “I feel good,” “I am in control,” “I’m okay,” etc.
  • Once again, find a comfortable position and preferably a quiet place.
  • Begin with controlled breathing.
  • As you begin to relax, repeat your word or phrase over and over, with thought, not just repetition. Think about what it means and how you feel.
  • If panic enters into your meditation, concentrate and focus on your controlled breathing, and your phrase.
  • Attempt to push all other thoughts from your mind. Your focus should be breathing and your word or phrase.
  • When you feel relaxed you can slowly begin to bring your awareness back to your present surroundings.
  • Open your eyes, look around, and say your words or phrase
  • Call on your words or phrases whenever panic strikes. If you can safely find a quiet spot, attempt a brief meditation. If you cannot find a quiet spot, begin controlled breathing and bring your word or phrases into your breathing routine. Try to focus on both for a few minutes.

Continuing to practice will enhance you ability to control your panic attack. When you are able to perform any or all techniques above and subsequently ease or even halt the attack, your positive experiences will help you realize that “nothing bad has ever happened,” and “it will pass.”

Panic to Peace Quick Tips for preparing for a panic attack

  • Remember the panic attack will pass
  • Nothing bad has ever or will happen
  • There is nothing wrong with you
  • You are now aware of techniques to help you control and hopefully alleviate your attacks and symptoms (controlled breathing, visualization, meditation, positive self-talk, and self awareness)
  • You can go anywhere and do anything!

Preparing For A Panic Attack May Require Seeking Professional Support

  • Having a therapist who specializes in Panic Disorders will be very helpful in helping you manage, cope, and identify possible triggers (social situations, places, thoughts, feelings, etc.)
  • A trained professional can help you identify specific needs and techniques that may help your individual situation

Part of managing panic involves letting others in. Take control of your panic, do not let your panic control you. Pick up the phone and call a family member, friend, boss, spiritual counselor or therapist. You do not have to suffer alone.


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