What prevents panic disorders

Tips for panic attacks

People who suffer from panic attacks are usually very tense inside. This tension manifests itself in tight muscles, clenched teeth and lips, shallow breathing or holding your breath, as well as a fast heartbeat, dizziness and tremors. Some feel close to bursting.

Tips for relaxation

The following tips can help you relax:

  • Avoid constant tension. Try to be able to take emotional breaks during the day. There are many techniques such as breathing exercises, autogenic training or biofeedback that can be used for this.
  • Do you do sports regulary.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep.
  • Eat smaller meals regularly to avoid hypoglycaemia.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, sugar, and psychoactive drugs.
  • Check negative thoughts and attitudes in the "Thought Check".
  • Try to design your environment in such a way that it gives you a sense of security. This includes a stable circle of friends, a stable partnership, safe living and working conditions as well as support in situations that overwhelm you (babysitter, domestic help).
  • In addition, it is advisable to get professional and expert support from a psychotherapist as soon as possible if you can no longer cope with emotional states of suffering and problems alone or with the help of friends. If this happens, don't back off, talk to someone you trust about your panic attacks.
  • The aim of psychotherapy is to heal or alleviate mental suffering, to help in life crises, to change disturbed behaviors and attitudes and to promote personal development and health.

++ More on the topic: Panic attacks ++

How can you prevent or mitigate a panic attack?

Abdominal breathing

Holding your breath and breathing shallowly and quickly can trigger or worsen a panic attack. Therefore, pay attention to your breathing.

If you notice that you are breathing quickly or are holding your breath, try to breathe as deeply as possible. Imagine sucking air into your stomach as you inhale. Then slowly breathe out again. Keep breathing in your stomach until you have calmed down again.

Muscle relaxation

Tension favors the occurrence of a panic attack or intensifies and prolongs it. The shoulders, neck, facial muscles, hands, and buttocks are most commonly tensed. Focus on each part of the body and try to relax them.

Redirecting thoughts

When you sense that an attack is about to occur, instead of focusing your attention on the fear and the physical changes that it will bring, try to focus on something else.

For example, plan what you want to do that day, think about who you haven't called in a long time or where you want to go next on vacation.

Let the fear "get away"

But don't try to suppress a panic attack. Allow the fear. The more you defend yourself against the fear, the stronger the attack will be. The more often you notice that nothing happens to you during a panic attack, the weaker the attacks become, until in the best case scenario they no longer occur.

++ More on the topic: How do I recognize a panic attack? ++

Mind check - what is it?

Many people with panic disorder are prone to certain thought patterns that make them feel insecure and stressful:

  • All-or-nothing principle (black and white thinking) - "This is a good / bad person."
  • Personalization; Things are quickly taken personally - "The cashier looks at me angrily because she doesn't like me."
  • Propensity to generalize - "All people are criminals."
  • To jump to conclusions - "A stitch in the chest, it must be a heart attack."
  • High demands on yourself - "I always have to do everything perfectly and must never give up."

Find yourself thinking about such thoughts and rephrase them in your head. For example, you can rephrase the thought “The cashier looks angry at me because she doesn't like me” in the thought “The cashier looks so annoyed and exhausted, it must be a tough job”.

++ More on the topic: Treatment for panic attacks ++

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Dr. med. Lisa Demel

Updated on:

Schmidt-Traub S: Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia - a therapy manual. 3rd edition, Hogrefe Verlag, Göttingen 2008

Heinrichs N et al: Evidence-based guideline on the psychotherapy of panic disorder and agoraphobia. Hogrefe Verlag, Göttingen 2009

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