How to manage panic attacks

I’m delighted I was able to guest post (here) on another prolific writer’s blog Woman on thin ice by Kate. Here’s just a few excerpts from that post:

What to do if you’re having a panic attack

Having a panic attack? – Image
  1. Breathe as slowly and deeply as possible, exhaling first – slowly for a count of 8-10 seconds
  2. Recognise that this is a panic attack and tell yourself that this will pass
  3. Try to get to a quiet space and sit down if necessary
  4. If you’re at work or outside, ask for help, I know this might feel a little embarrassing but ask if you need to
  5. Count backwards slowly from 100 in 3’s or
  6. Exhale and breathe slowly, as above – look around for 5 things that you can see and name them out loud i.e. “I can see a truck,” etc. You can go onto things you can hear, smell, taste or touch in the same way – until the panic subsides. This technique will help you stay in the present by using your five senses
  7. Use muscle relaxation techniques – try slumping your shoulders, letting them drop down from your ears, give your jaw a little wiggle then let it relax, uncross your legs, unclench your fists and lay the palms of your hands lightly on your thighs (your body cannot be relaxed and tensed at the same time)
  8. Put a few drops of lavender (known to ease anxiety) on a tissue, exhale then breathe it in slowly
  9. Dial 999 if the symptoms continue or get worse

What to do if someone else is having a panic attack

  1. You can be there for them, just listening, if that’s what they want. And I know this is hard but — don’t interrupt, listen actively (for more on listening skills see here).
  2. Ask the person if they’ve had a panic attack before, and what they think might help them or has helped them in the past
  3. Encourage them (or tell them quite firmly if they’re confused and unable to follow directions) to breathe (as above). Do this with them if necessary, as often they think they can’t breathe and won’t be able to do this alone
  4. Follow the above steps and call 999 if necessary

You can read the full post here but in the meantime, I’m happy to answer questions. Do you have any other super tips that could help someone who has panic attacks? Is there something you use to keep panic at bay?

Kate says of her blog: The blog aims to make women feel great about themselves and to help with the challenging issues life sometimes throws your way.

She does indeed write masses of ‘stuff‘ about ‘everything‘ regarding the challenges we all face in our daily lives and to help women in particular. Kate writes about anything from Women’s Lifestyle to Inspirational Women and Business to Blogging, so I’m sure there’s something you’d find interesting, if you want to drop in.


Mum to two amazing sons. Following recovery from a lengthy psychotic episode, depression, anxiety and anorexia, I decided to train as a Mental Health Nurse and worked successfully in various settings before becoming a Ward Manager. I am a Mental Health First Aid Instructor and a Mental Health Awareness Trainer, Mental Health First Aid Youth and Mental Health Armed Forces Instructor. Just started my mental health from the other side blog.

21 thoughts on “How to manage panic attacks”

  1. I started to melt down in town today with all the social distancing tape on the floors hitting home. My kid told me to calm down. I HATE that.
    So advice can be helpful or hurtful.
    I’d rather just be asked if I am okay and encouraged to find my safe space.
    “Calm down” and “breatheee” make me so upset, it worsens things.
    That is just me but it’s as valid as others’ feelings, it just may not fit into the tidy DSM-y books. 🙂

  2. I can attest that the looking and naming things works well. It is my number one go to when I get panic attacks. Taking deep breaths sometimes makes me more light headed but going somewhere quiet is always helpful. The less stimulation around me the better. Thank you for sharing all of this. I hope it helps a lot of others.

  3. I like the count backwards tip. It’s also included in yoga nidra and it’s not easy to do so WHILE worrying or being tense.

  4. I had my first one that I ever realised when I was at college, surrounded by own classmates I had known for a year and it was revision classes for a final. I only made it to the door of the class before I knew that my whole body went ice cold and Itd take everything in me to enter the class. I gave up and ran from there. Literally ran back to my room while crying the whole day. I wanted to throw up and my head was pounding. I’ve had a couple since then but that first day, I had no idea what to do and I’ve never ever felt so horrible about myself that way before.
    Thanks for the tips on here. Although, I’m not sure I’ll remember it because breathing is a struggle for me and I focus on that mainly, I’ll need to make these a habit.
    Thank you so much for these again.

    1. That first one is always horrifying! I feel for you Anya. That’s a great idea, make them a habit so that you have this skill to use if ever you need – instantly. Have you had any counselling? Is that something you’d think about?
      I’m glad you’ve only had a few and I guess this is the best time to practice any of those tips. Stay safe and well. Caz x

      1. I haven’t had any counselling and I’m open to the idea of it but I don’t think I’m there as yet to give answers that’ll make sense you know? I feel like where I am right now, I have the time to fight my demons because it’s only just started but yes, if it goes on and it starts to really affect me, I am thinking of seeking help
        It’s crazy I even spoke about it 🙈
        You stay safe and healthy as well! 😁

      2. I’m glad you’re at least open to the idea and if you need anything in the meantime, please let me know. And, it’s good to be able to talk about it, particularly somewhere safe like in our lovely blogging community. Everyone here would support you Anya. x

  5. Perfect time to read this.
    What succulent savage once suggested – and I really like – is shaking properly for 3 minutes – you’re anyways shaking, shaking fully my get it out the system. I’ve found it to be helpful. When I don’t just cut off from it.
    Love, light, and glitter

  6. Thank you for directing me this way.

    I will print this post out and add to my CBT folder, if that’s ok. So, I can keep it close to hand x x

    I’m sorry you have been through so much, you have so much strength.

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