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If you’ve ever experienced a panic attack, you’re not alone. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, panic disorders affect as many as 6 million US adults, around 2.7% of the total population. Panic attacks are normal and manageable. Here is the five-step approach that we recommend:
To effectively manage a panic attack, try following the five-step AWARE approach. “A” stands for Acknowledging and Accept. “W” stands for Wait and Watch. “A” is for Action, “R” is for Repeat, and “E” is for End.
The first step is always to acknowledge that you’re dealing with a panic attack. Don’t pretend that it’s not there. Please don’t ignore it. Accept it like you would accept a headache or an upset stomach. Start by working with the symptoms and not against them.
We then enter the waiting and watching phase. Waiting doesn’t mean you sit there and wait for the symptoms to subside. A panic attack temporarily diminishes your ability to concentrate and think. This step allows you to buy yourself some time to postpone any rash decisions.
You could start by counting down to ten till you finally start reacting. At this step, you can also fill out a panic diary to help you calm down. As you fill out the questions, you take upon an observer’s role and not someone going through a panic attack.
As you enter the action phase, you start working on making yourself feel more comfortable. You can’t instantly bring the panic attack to an end. It will eventually come to an end on its own. However, you can work on bringing it to a soft landing. See how you can make yourself more comfortable as the attack takes its due course. Here are a few ways you can do so:
a. Practice deep, diaphragmatic breathing. Focus on your breathing patterns. Look up guided meditation videos on the internet.
b. Try and talk to yourself. Reassure yourself. Inform yourself about what’s happening to you and what needs to be done. Repeat to yourself that it’s okay to be afraid.
c. Identify your body parts that feel tense. Work on relaxing your muscles, especially the ones in the neck, shoulders, back, jaw, and legs.
d. Focus on your surroundings and be more aware of them. It’ll help you get distracted.
It’s normal for you to start feeling better before another wave of panic attack comes crashing down. Don’t assume that none of your efforts worked. It’s normal for a panic attack to take up several cycles. Keep on repeating the steps mentioned above as much as you can.
This step is to remind you that your panic attack will eventually come to an end. It always helps to seek professional help. If you don’t feel like driving all the way to a psychiatrist or a therapist, you can always speak with a virtual doctor online.
Disclaimer: The content and information provided in this blog and any linked material on this website are not intended as or should not be construed as professional medical advice, treatment, or diagnosis. Always seek the advice of qualified healthcare providers or your physician for any questions and concerns regarding specific medical conditions or before making a decision regarding your personal healthcare.
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