Updated: Jan 30
Panic attacks are wretched events. They can leave a person feeling frightened, confused, and frankly, exhausted when they end.
For most persons, breathing exercises help to alleviate the duration and severity of a panic attack. By slowing down breathing, it allows the body to "stand down" from its red alert, perceived danger state. It reduces the heart rate, allowing muscles to relax.
However, for some persons, it may have the opposite effect. Ramping up anxious thoughts, driving the body's chemical reaction to perceived/anticipated danger which leads to exacerbating the symptoms of a panic attack.
This is when working with persons, I discuss a focus object. It can be anything: favorite wrap or sweater, a bracelet or necklace, a coin or shell, a keyring, a soft small animal toy or squishy toy. The purpose is to bring the mind out of the "Danger Will Robinson! Danger!" mode of perceived threat and allow the person to recognize they do have control. Maybe not of the situation, but of their reaction to it. A person concentrates on the item: the feel, the weight, the texture, and scent on it and think of a calming place they like to visit, think of someone they care about, and reminding themselves where they are at that moment.
It takes practice, and seeing a therapist allows a person to work out their action plan(s) for panic attacks.
Sometimes, there's medications that may be of assistance with panic attacks. It's a good idea to discuss that with your doctor. And working with a therapist can give you additional tools in dealing with anxiety and panic attacks.
Remember, there's no shame in reaching out and asking for help.
Take care of yourselves, and stay safe!
Social media is not intended to replace therapy with a qualified mental health professional. All posts are for educational purposes only. If you are in need of assistance for mental health services, please check with your primary care provider, Psychology Today, Better Help, Good Therapy or your insurance company to find the nearest mental health professional.
If you are in crisis, please contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255, use the Crisis Text Line by texting the word HOME to 741741 or dial 9-1-1.