How to defuse a panic attack

How to defuse a panic attack

by Eunice Chua 03 Feb 2020

The worse thing about panic attacks isn’t the actual occurrence itself, but the never-ending worry of getting one which lingers dauntingly at the edge of your every waking moment. Anyone who suffers from such a condition will be able to relate to this helpless fear, but being vulnerable to panic attacks doesn’t make you a a helpless victim. With practise, you can overcome the ubiquitous dread of getting a panic attack with some tips from people who have been there, done that.


1. Activate your safety behaviours

Don’t be embarrassed that you have certain habits that help you stay in control. Having safety behaviours doesn’t make you a lesser being – in fact, it would be decidedly inhuman for you to be brave and confident all the time!


2. Change your perception of the problem

Nobody wants to be labelled as mentally flawed and or be stereotyped as a looney. These fears are understandable, but they are far from the truth. It’s time to accept that panic attacks aren’t mental disorders; they’re just occasional mental struggles. Panic attacks are really just escalated bouts of anxiety which everyone is prone to. Certain people just react to them in different ways.


3. Prevent anxious thoughts from disconnecting your mind

Once negative thoughts take control, they’ll overwhelm your mind and disconnect your mind from your body, leading to that terrible out-of-control sensation. It’s possible to save yourself from that state. Simple acts like shuffling your feet on the ground will force your mind to refocus on a reality that's tangible and stable.


4. Accept that not all remedies work

There are so many solutions to coping with panic attacks. The thing is, what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for everyone else, so don’t despair and label yourself as incurable if any one approach fails. The most commonly unhelpful solutions are ones that teach you how to control anxiety. Panic attacks occur when events trigger uncontrollable anxiety in us, so merely extinguishing the anxious thoughts won’t solve the issue because the trigger events are ultimately the root cause.


5. Surround yourself with positive people

Not everyone will be supportive of you, but chances are most will if they truly care about you. Come out clean to those you trust, and you’ll find that having someone who understands what you’re going through will really help. It’s easier to fight the root cause of your panic attacks when there are friends you can rely on, especially when they’re around during your trigger events.


A life that’s largely unaffected by panic attacks is truly possible, as long as you remain realistic and keep your expectations reasonable. Accept how panic attacks are an inherent part of human nature. Understand the unique situations that trigger yours and allow yourself to be helped – by safety behaviours, by people and most importantly, by your own encouragement.