How to Deal With Panic Attacks Naturally

Nearly six million U.S. adults have panic disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Nearly six million U.S. adults have panic disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. (Image: blond girl in stress image by Andrejs Pidjass from

Panic disorder, a type of anxiety disorder, is characterized by recurrent panic attacks. Panic attack symptoms include hyperventilation, sweating, nausea, shortness of breath, trembling, chest pain and an intense fear of imminent disaster or death. They occur abruptly, regardless of place or time. It often seems longer, but panic attacks usually last 30 minutes, with the worst symptoms occurring in the first 10 minutes. Consider an evaluation for panic disorder if you have a history of panic attacks and dread the next one. Whether you have had one panic attack or dozens, some natural remedies may offer a measure of relief.

Exercise for 30 minutes three to five times weekly. A 2005 study in the "American Journal of Psychiatry" found that 30 minutes of aerobic exercise had an “antipanic” effect as measured on the Acute Panic Inventory. Several studies show the importance of exercise in relieving symptoms of both anxiety and depression. Exercise releases endorphins, serotonin and other neurotransmitters, chemicals that naturally make us feel better.

Watch what you eat. According to Dr. Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, a Mayo Clinic psychiatrist, food will not cure an anxiety disorder, but dietary changes can help. Eat small meals throughout the day to maintain stable blood sugar levels. Drink water and avoid alcohol and caffeine. Eat foods that have tryptophan, like bananas, cheese and poultry. Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps with relaxation.

Belly-breathe daily, beginning with five minutes and working up to 15 minutes. Place a pillow under your head and lie down with your knees bent comfortably. Lay your hand on your belly and relax. Count to four as you slowly inhale. Be aware of your belly lifting and expanding under your hand. Count to four as you slowly exhale. Feel the tension drain as your breath releases. Repeat. With practice, you can do this sitting or standing, and it can become the first weapon in your arsenal against panic.

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