This week I was diagnosed with multiple ear infections (not to mention sinus infection with migraines) and was put on an antibiotic. Not a big deal, right? Well, apparently it doesn’t sit well with me because I’ve had horrible reactions both mentally and physically ever since–one of which being the dreaded panic attack. Unfortunately, I’m no stranger to this issue; I’ve been dealing with them on and off my entire life.
It almost seems silly that I’m writing this because I feel far from an expert on how to deal with panic attacks, but I’m hoping that reading this may bring a bit of relief to someone else–and at the very least, a new and different perspective that has come to help me. So here are my ways how to stop a panic attack in 5 steps:
Let the feeling ride. Feel it without any resistance.
Trace it back to a feeling. I’m talking separate the numbing paranoia and fear from the bottom line. Push the shock of the fear and physical manifestations of the panic and ask yourself what one feeling does this panic come from.
Once you’ve identified the feeling, figure out the trigger. This could be a place, thought, person, memory, or anything else–the point is to attempt to trace the panic attack back to the very thought that triggered the spiral.
Figure out, realistically, if this thought has any merit. Is this something that scares you? Worries you? Makes you feel guilty? Whatever it is, try to put the emotional pang of the panic attack aside and be your own realist here. Ask yourself if it’s something true or likely to happen and if it isn’t, think of all the reasons why it isn’t. Then, trust yourself and your judgement and do your best to put the panic to rest knowing that you’ve seen this through. This process of thought flipping helps your mind to calmly switch out of emotional mode and into logical mode. This has helped me to talk myself out of bigger panic attacks.
Divert your attention. Once you’ve completed your thought flipping, find something else to do. Read something, watch an engaging movie or television show, play a word game, have a conversation with a friend, paint–whatever you have to do to stay cognitively engaged in something other than your panic attack. One of the phrases I always remind myself of is “this too shall pass”. This is a temporary state and in no way indicative of who you are as a person.
Honorable Mention: Guided Meditation
I think it’s worth noting how guided meditation does help me when I’m feeling particularly anxious. However, I’ve never used it in the midst of a panic attack so I can’t speak to how well it might work at that highly elevated of an emotional state. I tend to use guided meditation when I need to reconnect after a panic attack or if I’m feeling anxious and think it could possibly turn into one.
My favorite: Calm
I’ve tried many different methods of deescalating a panic attack but this process is the only one I’ve found that seems to work the majority of the time. Is there a tried-and-true way that you’ve used? I’d be interested in hearing the helpful ways others deal with this issue!