What to Do When Having an Anxiety Attack?


An anxiety attack can be one of the worst experiences you'll ever have. The symptoms are enough to send you running to the nearest emergency room. The disconnection from reality that you feel is enough to make you think you are going out of your mind. There are some things that you can do to get immediate relief from these horrific attacks.

Deep Breathing

Your breathing will be the first thing you need to get under control. Once you've accomplished this, the rest of the physiological symptoms will disappear. Deep breathing exercises are the single most important defense in regulating these symptoms. Concentrate on drawing slow, deep breaths through the nose and exhaling through your mouth. Bring the air in as much as you can to fill your diaphragm. Place your hand above your stomach and concentrate as the diaphragm heaves outward with the incoming air. Your shoulders should not move if you are doing this exercise correctly. This process sends a message to your brain to stop the symptoms of panic. Continue doing this slowly until the symptoms subside.

Focus On the Present

It is important to think of the here and now. Do not engage in “what if” thinking. Your anxiety will take hold of you if you continue to think about all the things that can happen to you while you are in this state of panic. Concentrate on making this panic go away and not on the negative thoughts such as “I am going crazy.” Shed the worries that you will embarrass yourself in public while having this attack. Come to terms with the fact that you are having an attack of panic and it will pass. “The symptoms are temporary and you will be fine,” is the mode of thinking to have, even though it is not easy to do at this time.

Distraction Techniques

For a distraction technique you can pat your leg or arm slowly, and silently count the pats as you do them. This can be done anywhere and anytime. By concentrating on something else it will slowly bring your mind away from the racing thoughts occurring during this episode. You can concentrate on some favorite song lyrics in your head as another distraction technique.

Supportive Friend

It helps immensely to have someone you feel safe in turning to when you are having an anxiety attack. If you know such a person, call him immediately and tell them how you are feeling. By having a good friend or relative who can help talk you through this anxiety attack, you will lessen your fears and, in turn, your symptoms.


If you are prone to anxiety attacks, there are medications that can be prescribed that will help give almost immediate relief from one of these episodes. It sometimes is helpful just knowing you have one of these pills at your disposal if the occasion should arise.


Cognitive behavioral therapy works well for treating anxiety attacks. You can find a therapist locally that offers this type of service. You want to do everything you can to understand why these attacks are present and work at getting them under control so you can enjoy your life without the fear of another attack coming on.

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