Everyone's panic attacks are different, but they're usually treatable.

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Stop Negative Thoughts

You’ve arrived at a party. Suddenly your heart is beating out of your chest, and you’re short of breath. All you can think is, “What if I need to go to the emergency room?”Ease the “fear factor” of physical symptoms. To do so, one needs   to begin altering ones internal dialogue. What you’re experiencing is just an adrenaline rush–your body’s fight-or-flight response–not an emergent threat to your health.

It’s important for people to recognize that they might have the same feelings of breathlessness or heart pounding during a tough workout at the gym. There, “you’re not sending yourself a message of danger.”

Accentuate the Positive

In therapy, people with panic attacks learn to counter negative self-talk with positive coping statements. Keeping a journal can be an important tool for helping people identify when they’re feeling anxious and recording positive statements that can be mentally repeated during a panic attack.

For example you might think, “This doesn’t feel comfortable, but I can accept it. I can ride through this. I don’t need it to get to me.”

Dive Into Your Symptoms

When you’re reeling and worried you’ll lose control, your instinct may be to squash your panic attack, pronto. Instead, give your body permission to react to your symptoms without needing to shut down or run away.

Consider this metaphor: You’re in the ocean, and there’s a huge wave coming at you, and that represents your panic attack. What happens if you try to put your hand out to stop that wave? It’s going to knock you over. Whereas, if you dive into it, it just brings you a little bit closer to shore.Most panic attacks reach their peak in just 10 minutes or less, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, and then they usually begin to subside.

Strike Up a Conversation

Even if you feel like you can’t breathe, help may be as simple as getting chatty with another guest. If you’re speaking with someone, that means you’re breathing.

Engaging in conversation also forces your mind to be present in the moment. That’s much better than ruminating about whether you’ll pass out, for example.If you don’t feel ready to approach someone, step out of the party and call someone you trust. It gets you in the moment, it gets you breathing, it gets you, maybe, out of the triggering environment for a few minutes.

Count Backward

If you feel you can’t bear to engage in small talk with other revelers, at least give your panicked mind an opportunity to change the subject.Counting backward from 100 by threes. This requires some focus and helps shift your internal conversation away from the uncomfortable “what if” questions, like, “What if I embarrass myself?”

Drink Water

When you’re having a panic attack, it can feel like you have a lump in your throat or you can’t catch your breath. Some people get a metallic taste in their mouth or a dry mouth when they’re anxious, according to a 2017 study in the Journal of Dental Research, Dental Clinics, Dental Prospects.That funky taste may be due to the brain chemicals released in an adrenaline rush. A cool sip of water may help to alleviate your symptoms.

Control Your Breathing

When you’re in a panic, you tend to take rapid, shallow breaths, and that can make you lightheaded.Breathing is the one symptom you do want to control during a panic attack, because slow, abdominal breathing can offset those feelings of dizziness.Try inhaling to the count of five and exhaling to the count of 10. Practice ahead of time by lying down and placing a magazine on your stomach. If you’re breathing from your belly rather than your chest, you’ll see the magazine rise and fall.

Stay Connected to Your Environment

You may feel lightheaded, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to pass out. The best way to prove that to yourself–and thwart panicked thoughts of crashing to the ground–is to perform this little visual experiment: Focus on a face or a picture in the room. Ask yourself, ‘Am I seeing this the way a dizzy person would see it?. The answer, most likely, will be no.

Take a Whiff

Certain scents can have calming effects, according to a 2013 study in the Journal of Neuroscience. That’s why sniffing a calming scent may be just the ticket when you’re mired in feelings of dread.Keep an oil or perfume with your favorite scent—patchouli, lilac, whatever you prefer—in your handbag. If panic sets in, place a dab of it on your wrist and inhale. It grounds you.

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