How to Identify and Treat Panic Attacks

Panic attacks can be frightening, especially if you don’t know how or why – or even when – they are occurring. The best way to be prepared for a panic attack in yourself or another person is to learn what causes panic attacks, what symptoms look for, and ways to manage and prevent them.

What Is a Panic Attack?

A panic attack is an intense episode of fear or anxiety that occurs when there is no physical threat or danger to your health.

The Signs of a Panic Attack

There are plenty of signs of having a panic attack, including a sudden irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, trembling, and sweating. Other symptoms include chest pain, difficulty swallowing, nausea, tingling or numbness, or feeling faint.

Ways You Can Treat and Prevent Panic Attacks

Use Deep or Slow Breathing

Hyperventilating and breathing irregularities are common signs of a panic attack; taking purposeful slow and deep breaths helps the body relax and calm down and return the breathing to its normal rhythm. In addition, breathing can lower cortisol levels, which ultimately reduces the levels of stress or anxiety.

Close Your Eyes

Sometimes panic attacks kick in due to the intense stimuli surrounding you. Closing your eyes can help drown out those stimulants and help you focus on your breathing.


Anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants can be prescribed to control panic attack symptoms before or when they occur. Be sure to speak with your physician about what medications might work best for you and any associated risks of such treatments.

Seek Counseling

Counseling is one of the most effective ways to treat anxiety. It can help you change how you see things and discover coping methods. Specifically, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been shown to treat and prevent panic attacks.

Seek a Service Animal

Some service animals are trained to sense panic attacks before they even happen!

When Should You See a doctor?

A panic attack can be scary when you feel like it will never stop. If your panic attack hasn’t calmed after 20 minutes of slow breathing, seek medical help immediately. If you experience frequent panic attacks, it could be a sign of a more serious panic disorder. In that case, the best course of action may be psychotherapy.

Have you ever experienced a panic attack? Let us know in the comments below.

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