How To Calm Down From A Panic Attack

By Sarah Fader

Updated December 07, 2018

Reviewer Heather Cashell


Panic attacks are a scary experience for anyone. When a person has a panic attack he or she may feel like they are experiencing a medical emergency, and even believe that their lives are in danger. A panic attack creates several distressing sensations, like fear, hyperventilation, ringing in ears, numbing or tingling in arms and legs, and chest pain. If you are one of the many people who experiences panic attacks you may feel hopeless to control your symptoms, but there are methods you can learn to help you calm down and reduce the effects of the attack.

What Is A Panic Attack?

It is important for a person who experiences panic attacks to understand what panic attacks are and why they happen. Each person experiences panic attacks for different reasons, but every panic attack is a stress response. Panic attacks are a reaction to being under pressure, overwhelmed, or afraid. People who experience panic attacks have either experienced a traumatic event, are struggling to cope with something unsettling or upsetting, or suffer from general anxiety issues.


How To Cope With Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are difficult to live with, especially when you have trouble anticipating what will trigger an attack. When you have a panic attack your body and mind react so severely that you may lose touch with what is going on around you. When the fear and stress response of a panic attack takes over it can be difficult to regain control over your mind and body. Fortunately, there are exercises that you can learn to calm down from panic attacks.

Focus On Your Breathing

Hyperventilation is a hazardous symptom of panic attacks. When you are experiencing a panic attack your breathing becomes shallow. This shallow breathing deprives your body of oxygen, which causes your brain to think you are dying, which causes more panic. Focus on your breathing to reduce the intensity of this reaction. Try placing your hand on your chest, taking a 10 second inhale, hold for 3 seconds, and release the air on a 10 second count. Continue this until you feel your body relax.


Remind Yourself You Are Not Dying

As a reaction to the racing heartbeat and hyperventilation, your brain will conclude you are dying and go into survival mode, which causes more panic. In these situations, remind yourself that you are not dying, you are just having a panic attack. Remind yourself that you are safe and this feeling will pass. Alerting the brain that this is only a panic attack will reduce the intensity of the reaction.

Bring Yourself Back To The Present

It is easy to get lost in a panic attack. When you feel yourself about to have a panic attack, bring yourself to the present moment. What do you hear? What do you see? What do you feel and smell? Keep yourself grounded in the present moment. This will calm you down by allowing the brain to focus on the present moment, rather than the distressing thoughts that are triggering the attack.


Seek Mental Health Counseling

If you are having panic attacks it is important to seek mental health counseling. Panic attacks are the result of stress, fear and anxiety. With counseling, you can work with your therapist to understand the core issues and triggers for the panic attacks. You will also learn new ways to strengthen your coping strategies to help you calm down from a panic attack. If you feel you need professional counseling services, go to to connect with a mental health professional today.

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