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How To Stop Panic Attacks

March 1, 2024

Real Research: Strategies to StopPanic Attacks

Panic attacks can be overwhelming and debilitating, causing intense fear, rapid heart rate, and a sense of impending doom. Fortunately, recent research has shed light on effective strategies to stop panic attacks in their tracks. In this article, PRISM presents these evidence-based techniques that can help you regain control during a panic attack and find relief.

  1. Mindful Breathing

Recent studies emphasise the power of mindful breathing as a potent tool to combat panic attacks. Mindful breathing involves slow, deep breaths to regulate the body’s stress response. Here’s how to do it:

  • Inhale slowly for a count of four.
  • Hold your breath for a count of four.
  • Exhale slowly for a count of four.
  • Repeat until you feel calmer.

Citation: Hofmann, S. G., Sawyer, A. T., Witt, A. A., & Oh, D. (2010). The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78(2), 169-183.

  1. Grounding Techniques

Recent research highlights the effectiveness of grounding techniques, which help bring your focus back to the present moment. Try these methods:

  • Name 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.
  • Stamp your feet or touch a solid surface to connect with your physical surroundings.

Citation: van der Kolk, B. A., Stone, L., West, J., Rhodes, A., Emerson, D., Suvak, M., & Spinazzola, J. (2014). Yoga as an adjunctive treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA Psychiatry, 71(5), 559-567.

  1. Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)

Recent studies highlight PMR’s efficacy in reducing panic attack symptoms. PMR involves systematically tensing and relaxing muscle groups to alleviate physical tension. Here’s a simplified version:

  • Tense your fists for a few seconds, then release.
  • Move to your biceps, then your shoulders, and so on, until you reach your toes.

Citation: Manzoni, G. M., Pagnini, F., Castelnuovo, G., & Molinari, E. (2008). Relaxation training for anxiety: A ten-years systematic review with meta-analysis. BMC Psychiatry, 8, 41.

  1. Cognitive Restructuring

Recent cognitive-behavioural research underscores the importance of challenging irrational thoughts during panic attacks. Identify negative thought patterns and replace them with more rational ones. For example:

  • Replace “I’m going to die” with “This is a panic attack, and it will pass.”

Citation: Arch, J. J., & Craske, M. G. (2008). First-line treatment: A critical appraisal of cognitive behavioral therapy developments and alternatives. Psychiatric Clinics, 31(4), 835-849.

  1. Medication and Therapy

For severe or recurring panic attacks, consider consulting a mental health professional. Recent research indicates that a combination of medication (such as SSRIs) and therapy (like CBT or exposure therapy) can provide significant relief.

Citation: Hofmann, S. G., Asnaani, A., Vonk, I. J., Sawyer, A. T., & Fang, A. (2012). The Efficacy of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: A Review of Meta-analyses. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 36(5), 427-440.

To Sum Up!

Recent research highlights several effective strategies for putting a stop to panic attacks. Whether through mindful breathing, grounding techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, cognitive restructuring, or a combination of medication and therapy, you can take steps to regain control and find relief during these distressing episodes. If you experience frequent or severe panic attacks, consult a mental health professional for personalised guidance and support. Remember that help is available, and you don’t have to face panic attacks alone.

If you would like to get online therapy and support to help stop panic attacks from one of our exceptional therapists, just click on the button below to match with the best available therapist for your needs.

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