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How to stop and prevent an anxiety attack



  How to Control An Anxiety Attack

Even if it sometimes seems impossible, you can manage anxiety attacks when you understand your triggers and what calms you down.


Malte Mueller / Getty Images.

A anxiety attack can be a frightening experience. You may feel that you cannot breathe, that your heart is beating too fast, that your head is spinning and that you are unable to control your thoughts. Anxiety attacks are often accompanied by or caused by feelings of doom or fear, and it may seem that the fear will never end.

Even if you can't seem to stop the spiral, you can: With the right tactics, you can learn how to manage and prevent anxiety attacks. However, it is far more complex than the "do not panic" and "just breathe" claims that are often given as advice for dealing with anxiety says licensed psychotherapist Haley Neidich.

Note that you do not have to be diagnosed with anxiety or another mental illness to have an anxiety attack: anyone can experience an anxiety attack even if there is no psychiatric diagnosis, and everyone can benefit from knowing how to control one in case it arises.

Also note that there is a difference between an anxiety attack and a panic attack. A panic attack is clearly defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders, while an anxiety attack is not.

One of the main differences between the two is that panic attacks often occur without warning and can be caused by an external fear, such as a phobia you come into contact with, but panic attacks can occur without triggers. Anxiety attacks, on the other hand, often build up over time and are often caused by an internal fear or a sense of doom, such as what could happen when thinking of the pandemic of coronavirus .

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The lack of diagnostic criteria does not invalidate anxiety attacks; it just means that symptoms are more prone to interpretation and that there is an opportunity to discover terrifying triggers.

With that you can see if you are having an anxiety attack and how to stop or manage it.

Read more: Calming anxiety in social situations

Signs of an anxiety attack

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If you've never had an anxiety attack, you may not even know what to look for. Even if you regularly experience anxiety attacks, the signs leading to an anxiety attack can change, leaving you baffled when one time feels different from the previous.

"While many people can easily identify their triggers and early warning signs, it is something that can take time and support," Neidich explains. & # 39; Some people will experience anxiety attacks that seem to come out of nowhere and they may need professional support from a psychotherapist to help them identify the more subtle and underlying issues that contribute to this. & # 39;

That said, and although everyone experiences anxiety attacks differently, Neidich says that most people have a few ubiquitous symptoms.

"The most common early symptom is anxious thinking, especially thinking that is rooted in 'what if' which usually leads people on a dark mental path," says Neidich. "This can happen slowly or quickly, depending on an individual's external environment and vulnerability factors."

Racing thoughts and physiological symptoms such as a beating heart, breathing difficulties and gastrointestinal disorders are all telltale signs of an anxiety attack or severe anxiety in general, Neidich says.

"Anxiety attacks can be a terrifying experience, because people often feel they die or have a heart attack during the episode," she says. "For this reason, many people who have had an anxiety attack will develop the fear of having another one, which will only exacerbate their underlying anxiety."

That is all the more reason that recognizing the early symptoms of an anxiety attack is key in preventing and managing them, Neidich repeats.

Read more: 5 online therapy services to help with depression, anxiety and stress

How to deal with an anxiety attack

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It can be difficult to completely stop an anxiety attack once it has started, but you can take some steps to manage anxiety attacks, reduce the severity of symptoms, and reduce their frequency. Neidich shares five tips for managing and managing anxiety attacks.

1. Distraction

"Distraction is the primary tool for treating an anxiety attack once it starts," says Neidich. She adds that if you pay too much attention to your body – such as breathing deeply, as is often recommended – your symptoms can get worse.

Instead, Neidich says, "Once you've established that an anxiety attack has started, it's time to distract yourself while you wait for it to pass. Put on a funny movie, grab a coloring book, go for a walk, listen to a podcast, put on your soothing playlist or call a friend and tell them to talk about something else. "

If you discover tools that work for you, keep a list in the notebook on your phone, so if you are not sure what to do, you can simply scroll through that list. As for finding distraction tools, Neidich says just about anything will work as long as it doesn't make your anxiety worse.

"Social media makes many people's anxiety worse, but I just had someone tell me that watching dance videos on TikTok helped them get through an anxiety attack," Neidich says as example. "We are all individual and should take the time to find out what will improve our symptoms."

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Listening to a playlist of calming or fun songs can reduce anxiety.


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2. Aftercare

Aftercare is how you calm yourself as soon as the anxiety attack subsides, Neidich says. This can include tactics similar to distractions, such as walking, logging, or calling someone. If you choose to call someone, Neidich says it's someone who & # 39; knows he shouldn't ask you why you had the anxiety attack & # 39; (see tip # 4 for more information).

"Once the peak of the anxiety attack has set in," Neidich says, "using grounding techniques to be more present in your body is a big part of aftercare."

Try these grounding techniques that Neidich recommends:

  • Hug a tree or touch other plant life
  • Take a slow walk
  • Drink herbal teas
  • Do a slow, relaxing flow of yoga
  • Write in a magazine [19659052] Listen to Music
  • Practice Breathing Techniques (Only After Fear Begins to Disappear)

Neidich Also Offers a Visualization Exercise to Help: Once your fear begins to disappear, visualize yourself as a tree with roots growing in the ground as "a powerful way to start grounding".

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Use grounding visualizations, such as imagining yourself as a tree or other plant, to center yourself during an anxiety attack.


Peter Cade / Getty Images

3. Daily Meditation

The prevailing feeling that meditation and deep breathing can or should be used to stop an anxiety attack can even be harmful, Neidich says.

"Meditation and deep breathing are usually bad skills to use when an anxiety attack has already started and can make things even worse," she says. "Instead, people with anxiety should meditate twice a day to reduce their overall anxiety so they can more effectively identify worsening anxiety symptoms."

Neidich notes that it is common for people to say "I know I should meditate" & then ignore meditation as a potential resource – but " Daily meditation has the potential impact of stopping anxiety attacks completely and the recommendation should be taken very seriously, she says.

It is true that meditation is known to reduce stress, anxiety, depression and emotional pain, and build resilience, or your ability to bounce back from stressful or painful situations.

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4. Relying on Effective Supportive People

A network of supportive people is essential for managing anxiety, Neidich says, but those supportive people should be effective in helping you cope – that is, they should make you feel better , not worse.

Rely on people who can provide you with the kind of support you personally need, such as physical touch or an ear to listen to how you feel. Avoid anyone asking why you had an anxiety attack. After an anxiety attack or on the edge of one, it's important not to talk about the cause behind it, Neidich says, noting distraction techniques.

It's important to be clear about what you need from your loved ones with regard to anxiety, Neidich says – it's a "big part of a comprehensive anxiety management plan."

"Make sure you talk in advance about which language is and isn't useful," says Neidich, noting that it is not someone else's responsibility to help you with your anxiety attack, but it is your responsibility to communicate your needs.

Read more: 5 life hacks for anxiety relief

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified health care professional if you have questions about a medical condition or health goals.


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