How to Calm Down from a Panic Attack 3 Ways to Stop a Panic Attack

How to Calm Down from a Panic Attack: 3 Ways to Stop a Panic Attack

How to Calm Down from a Panic Attack:

3 Ways to Stop a Panic Attack


Panic attacks can be overwhelming and terrifying experiences, leaving individuals feeling helpless and trapped in their minds.

If you have ever experienced a panic attack, rest assured that you are not alone, many people experience panic attacks for different reasons. These episodes can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or background.

However, understanding panic attacks and learning how to calm down from them can empower you to navigate these challenging moments with greater ease and confidence.

In this article, we will delve into the world of panic attacks, unraveling their mysteries and providing you with practical strategies to find calm amidst the chaos.

It is important to recognize that panic attacks are not a sign of weakness or a character flaw.

They are, in fact, a common symptom of panic disorder, an anxiety disorder characterized by unexpected and recurring panic attacks. People with a generalized anxiety disorder or with panic disorder may avoid situations that might cause another panic attack.

By gaining a deeper understanding of panic attacks and learning effective techniques to calm yourself in those critical moments, you can regain a sense of control over your emotions and live a more fulfilling life.

So, let us embark on this journey together, where we will explore the power of breath, the management of triggers, seeking professional help, and self-help techniques that can make a significant difference in your overall well-being.

What is a Panic Attack and How to Identify It?

Understanding panic attacks.

Calm Down from a Panic Attack scaled

To effectively manage your symptoms from panic attacks, it is crucial to demystify their nature and gain insight into how they manifest.

Panic attacks are intense surges of fear and anxiety that can arise unexpectedly, causing a range of distressing symptoms. It is important to differentiate panic attacks from anxiety attacks, as the two terms are often used interchangeably but represent distinct experiences.

A panic attack is a sudden onset of intense anxiety and intense fear that lasts for several minutes and causes physical symptoms like chest pain, difficulty breathing, and muscle tension. They tend to start without warning, and symptoms reach a peak within minutes.

Symptoms of a panic attack.

During a panic attack, someone may experience a rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath or rapid breathing, dizziness, trembling, muscle tension, feelings of anxiety, and a sense of impending doom.

The physical sensations can be accompanied by a variety of emotional and cognitive symptoms, such as fear of losing control or going insane.

It is important to remember that panic attacks are not life-threatening, although they can feel overwhelming at the moment.

While a panic attack isn’t life-threatening, the symptoms may seem similar to other serious health conditions like a heart attack. If you are unsure whether you are experiencing a panic attack or a heart attack, seek medical attention right away to rule out the possibility of a life-threatening condition.

Knowing the triggers

By understanding the physiological and psychological aspects of panic attacks, we can begin to address them with a sense of knowledge and empowerment.

In the following sections, we will explore effective ways to calm down during a panic attack, starting with the power of breath and understanding personal triggers that contribute to their occurrence.

Knowing what triggers a panic attack can help prevent future episodes. Triggers may differ from person to person, but some common ones include stress, caffeine, and certain phobias such as emetophobia.

How to Calm Down from a Panic Attack 3 Ways to Stop a Panic Attack

How to Get Through a Panic Attack

The Power of Breath: Harnessing a Simple Technique

Panic has a distinct breathing pattern (1). You start to hold your breath and your body intuitively goes into a fight or flight response. Your body wants to relax, so give it enough oxygen and allow it to do so. Breathing exercises have long been recognized as effective tools for inducing relaxation and calming the mind.

When faced with a panic attack, focusing on your breath can help regulate your body’s physiological response and restore a sense of balance. Here are a few techniques you can try:

1.     Deep Breaths: Find a comfortable position and place your hand on your belly. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, feeling your belly rise as you fill your lungs with air. Exhale slowly through your mouth, feeling your belly fall. Repeat this pattern focusing on the sensation of your breath and allowing it to soothe and center you.

2.     Box Breathing (2): Visualize a box in your mind. Inhale deeply for a count of four, hold for a count of four, exhale for a count of four, and hold again for a count of four. Repeat this cycle, envisioning each side of the box as you breathe in a controlled and rhythmic manner.

3.     4-7-8 Breathing: Sit or lie down comfortably and place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth. Inhale silently through your nose to a mental count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Exhale completely through your mouth to a count of eight, making a whooshing sound. Try to deliberately relax your tongue on the lower palette of your mouth as you exhale. This can help your body feel more relaxed. Repeat this cycle several times, feeling the air and allowing it to guide you to a state of deep relaxation.

These breathing techniques can help especially if are practiced regularly, not only during a panic attack but also as a preventative measure. Incorporating them into your daily routine can help reduce overall anxiety levels and provide a valuable tool for managing future panic attacks.

Remember, everyone’s experience with panic attacks is unique, so it is essential to find the breathing technique that resonates most with you. Experiment with different methods and embrace the one that brings you the greatest sense of calm and relief.

Practicing deep breathing techniques regularly can help you better manage your breathing during a panic attack. Try breathing deeply for a few minutes each day to better prepare for when a panic attack may occur.

Embracing Relaxation Techniques: Finding Peace Amidst the Storm

In addition to deep breathing, if you’re prone to panic attacks, incorporating these relaxation techniques  (3) can further enhance your ability to calm yourself down from a panic attack. These techniques focus on promoting relaxation in both your body and mind, allowing you to regain a sense of control and serenity. Here are a few techniques you can explore:

  1. Muscle Relaxation Techniques: Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique that involves systematically tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups in your body. Starting from your toes, contract each muscle group for a few seconds and then release the tension, moving upward through your body. This exercise helps relieve muscle tension and relax your muscles, a common symptom experienced during panic attacks.
  2. Mindfulness: involves directing your attention to the present moment without judgment. Engaging in mindfulness exercises or meditation during a panic attack can help redirect your focus away from anxious thoughts and sensations. You can try focusing on your breath, observing your thoughts and what you’re feeling without attachment, or practicing guided imagery to transport yourself to a peaceful and serene place. You might also find it helpful to mentally review who you are and what you’re doing in the here and now.
  3. Visualization: Visualization exercises allow you to harness the power of your imagination to create a mental image that promotes relaxation and calmness. Close your eyes, focus your mind, and imagine yourself like you’re in a happy place, such as a tranquil beach or a lush forest. Engage your senses by visualizing the colors, sounds, and smells of this imagined environment. Allow yourself to fully immerse in this mental oasis and experience a sense of peace.
  4. Sensory Grounding: Grounding techniques involve connecting with your five senses to anchor yourself in the present moment. Clear your mind and focus on specific sensory experiences, such as the feeling of the ground beneath your feet, the texture of an object in your hands, the scent of a calming essential oil, or the taste of a soothing cup of herbal tea. By redirecting your attention to the sensory input around you, you can shift your focus away from the panic attack symptoms and find a sense of stability.

Ways to Prevent Panic Attacks

Identifying and Managing Triggers: Empowering Yourself to Take Control

Understanding the triggers (4) that contribute to panic attacks is a crucial step in effectively managing and preventing them. They can vary widely from person to person, but common ones include stressful situations, certain environments, specific thoughts or memories, or even physical sensations. By identifying yours, you can take proactive steps to minimize their impact. Here are some strategies to consider:

1.     Self-Reflection and Journaling: Take time to reflect on your panic attacks and the circumstances surrounding them. Keep a journal to track patterns and potential triggers. This self-awareness can help you identify specific situations, thoughts, or emotions that consistently precede your panic attacks.

2.     Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Consider seeking the guidance of a mental health professional trained in CBT. CBT can help you challenge and reframe negative thought patterns that contribute to panic attacks. By addressing underlying beliefs and adopting healthier cognitive habits, you can reduce the frequency and intensity of your panic episodes.

3.     Lifestyle Adjustments: Evaluate your lifestyle and make adjustments that support your well-being. This may include incorporating stress-reducing activities like exercise, mindfulness practices, or engaging in hobbies that bring you joy. Establishing a regular sleep routine, maintaining a balanced diet, and reducing stimulants like caffeine and nicotine can also contribute to overall emotional stability. Physical activity and regular exercises can help people blow off steam and burn off excess energy, which can be created through an anxiety attack. Not only that, but it can cause your body to release endorphins, which are natural “feel-good” hormones.

By actively managing and addressing triggers, you can regain a sense of control over your panic attacks and work towards minimizing their occurrence. Avoiding them may help prevent panic attacks. If you know that a certain situation or activity causes you to feel anxious, try to avoid it or limit your exposure to it.

Seeking Professional Help: Finding Support and Guidance

While self-help techniques can be incredibly beneficial, it is important to acknowledge the value of seeking professional help when needed. Panic disorder is a diagnosable mental health condition, and mental health professionals are equipped with the knowledge and expertise to guide you on your journey. Consider the following options:

1.     Therapy: Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or exposure therapy, can provide valuable tools and strategies for managing panic attacks. A therapist can help you explore underlying causes, develop coping mechanisms, and provide a supportive space to discuss your experiences.

2.     Medication: In some cases, medication may be prescribed to help manage panic disorder. Anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants can be effective in reducing the frequency and intensity of panic attacks. It is important to consult with a psychiatrist or medical professional to determine the best course of treatment for your specific needs. In some cases, your doctor might also prescribe a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medication like Lexapro or Prozac, which are anti-depressants that prevent panic attacks long-term.

Remember, seeking professional help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Mental health professionals can offer guidance, support, and tailored interventions to help you regain control over your life and find lasting relief from panic attacks.

If you find yourself experiencing frequent panic attacks, seeking help from a clinical psychology professional may be beneficial. Therapy such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you learn coping mechanisms and strategies to better manage panic attacks.

Prevention is Key: Building Resilience and Minimizing Panic Attacks

How to Calm Down from a Panic Attack 3 Ways to Stop a Panic Attack

While learning how to calm down from a panic attack is essential, prevention (5) plays a crucial role in managing panic disorder. By adopting proactive strategies and making positive lifestyle changes, you can reduce the frequency and intensity of panic attacks. Here are some key approaches to consider:

1.     Stress Management: Chronic stress can contribute to the occurrence of panic attacks. Prioritize stress management techniques such as exercise, mindfulness, and relaxation exercises. Engaging in activities that bring you joy and practicing self-care can help regulate stress levels and promote emotional well-being.

2.     Healthy Boundaries: Establishing healthy boundaries in your personal and professional life is essential. Learn to say no when necessary and prioritize self-care. Avoid overcommitting yourself and recognize the importance of self-preservation in maintaining your overall well-being.

3.     Social Support: Surround yourself with a supportive network of family, friends, or support groups. Sharing your experiences with trusted individuals can provide comfort and validation. They can also offer valuable insights and coping strategies based on their journeys.

By incorporating prevention strategies into your daily life, you can build resilience and create an environment that minimizes the occurrence of panic attacks.

Moving Forward: Embracing a More Calm and Resilient Life

As you navigate the journey of managing panic attacks and finding calm, it is crucial to embrace a mindset of growth and resilience. Panic attacks may be a part of your life, but they do not define you. Consider the following steps as you move forward:

1.     Embrace Self-Compassion: Be gentle with yourself throughout this process. Understand that setbacks may occur, but they do not diminish your progress. Practice self-compassion and treat yourself with kindness, acknowledging your efforts and celebrating even the smallest victories.

2.     Embrace a Growth Mindset: Adopt a growth mindset that embraces challenges as opportunities for growth. Recognize that managing panic attacks is a continuous journey, and each step forward is a step towards personal development and resilience. Embrace the belief that you can learn, adapt, and overcome.

3.     Seek Professional Support When Needed: If panic attacks persist or significantly impact your quality of life, do not hesitate to talk to your doctor and seek ongoing professional support. Mental health professionals can provide guidance, monitor your progress, and adjust treatment plans as necessary.

Remember, you are not alone in your journey. With perseverance, self-compassion, and the support of professionals and loved ones, you can build a calmer, more resilient life where panic attacks hold less power over you.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a panic attack?

A panic attack refers to a sudden episode of intense fear or anxiety that is accompanied by various physical and psychological symptoms. It can be triggered by specific situations or occur without warning.

2. What are the symptoms of a panic attack?

The signs of a panic attack vary from person to person, but common physical symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, rapid breathing, muscle tension, and difficulty breathing. Psychological symptoms may include intense anxiety, fear of losing control, and a sense of impending doom.

3. Ways to stop a panic attack.

There are several techniques you can try to stop a panic attack. Deep breathing exercises, such as inhaling slowly and exhaling deeply, can help regulate your breathing and promote relaxation. You can also try muscle relaxation techniques, close your eyes, or practice mindfulness to redirect your focus away from the panic attack.

4. Can someone help you calm yourself during a panic attack?

Absolutely! If you’re experiencing a panic attack, it can be helpful to have a friend or family member you trust nearby who can offer support and reassurance. Simply having someone present can help calm you down and provide a sense of comfort.

5. What is the difference between a panic attack and an anxiety attack?

While the terms “panic attack” and “anxiety attack” are often used interchangeably, some professionals make a distinction. A panic attack occurs suddenly and has intense physical symptoms, while an anxiety attack is more gradual and may last longer, with less intense physical symptoms.

6. Can panic attacks be prevented?

Although it may not be possible to completely prevent panic attacks, there are strategies you can use to reduce the likelihood of experiencing them. This may include identifying triggers, seeking therapy (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT), practicing relaxation techniques regularly, and managing stress levels.

7. Are panic attacks symptoms of panic disorder or anxiety disorder?

Yes, panic attacks can be a symptom of panic disorder, which involves recurrent panic attacks and worry about future attacks. Panic disorder falls under the category of anxiety disorders, which are characterized by excessive and persistent fear or anxiety.

8. What should I do if I have emetophobia during a panic attack?

If you have emetophobia (fear of vomiting) and experience it during a panic attack, it’s important to remind yourself that it is a common symptom and not harmful. Implementing grounding techniques and self-care strategies can help you cope with emetophobia during a panic attack. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Recognize and accept your fear: Acknowledge that your fear of vomiting is a symptom of your panic attack and not a sign of imminent danger. Remind yourself that panic attacks do not cause vomiting in most cases.
  2. Practice deep breathing: Focus on your breath and engage in deep, slow breathing. Inhale deeply through your nose, hold for a few seconds, and exhale slowly through your mouth. This can help calm your nervous system and reduce anxiety.
  3. Ground yourself: Engage your senses to ground yourself in the present moment. Look around and identify five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This exercise helps distract your mind from fear and brings your focus to the present.
  4. Use positive self-talk: Challenge negative thoughts and replace them with positive and realistic statements. Remind yourself that you have coped with panic attacks in the past and that this feeling will pass. Repeat calming affirmations such as “I am safe” or “I can handle this.”
  5. Practice relaxation techniques: Explore relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, or mindfulness meditation. These techniques can help reduce overall anxiety levels and provide a sense of calm during a panic attack.
  6. Seek support: Reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist who understands your emetophobia and panic attacks. Talking about your fears and receiving support can be comforting and reassuring.
  7. Consider therapy options: If your emetophobia significantly impacts your daily life and well-being, consider seeking professional help. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common treatment approach for emetophobia and panic disorder. It can help you challenge and modify irrational thoughts and behaviors associated with your fear.
  8. Gradual exposure: If you feel ready, you can gradually expose yourself to situations that trigger your emetophobia. Start with less challenging situations and progressively work your way up. This process, known as exposure therapy, can help desensitize you to the fear and reduce its intensity over time.

Remember that everyone’s journey is unique, and it’s essential to find strategies that work best for you. If your emetophobia persists or worsens, it’s advisable to consult with a mental health professional who can provide personalized guidance and support.

Conclusion – Breath!:

Understanding panic attacks and learning effective ways to help you calm down from them is a powerful step towards reclaiming control over your life. By embracing the power of breath, identifying triggers, seeking professional help, and practicing self-help techniques, you can develop a toolkit to navigate panic attacks with confidence and resilience.


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2) Balban MY, Neri E, Kogon MM, Weed L, Nouriani B, Jo B, Holl G, Zeitzer JM, Spiegel D, Huberman AD. Brief structured respiration practices enhance mood and reduce physiological arousal. Cell Rep Med. 2023 Jan 17;4(1):100895. doi 10.1016/j.xcrm.2022.100895. Epub 2023 Jan 10. PMID: 36630953; PMCID: PMC9873947.

3) Manzoni GM, Pagnini F, Castelnuovo G, Molinari E. Relaxation training for anxiety: a ten-years systematic review with meta-analysis. BMC Psychiatry. 2008 Jun 2;8:41. doi: 10.1186/1471-244X-8-41. PMID: 18518981; PMCID: PMC2427027.

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