By Dr. Robert Yeilding, PsyD

Going through a panic attack can be one of the most distressing and disruptive experiences to one’s sense of safety and stability in life. Learn here how to beat panic attacks and reclaim your life!

Panic attacks typically appear suddenly and escalate quickly to the point of intense fear or discomfort.

Sometimes they occur in response to recurrent triggers such as being in a claustrophobic situation, public speaking, on an airplane, etc., though sometimes they seem to ignite out of the blue.

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Symptoms Of A Panic Attack

Either way, they activate quickly and involve physiological symptoms such as:

• Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate

• Sweating

• Trembling or shaking

• Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering

• Feelings of choking

• Chest pain or discomfort

• Nausea or abdominal distress

• Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint

• Chills or heat sensations

• Paresthesia (numbness or tingling sensations)

• Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself)

• Fear of losing control or “going crazy”

• Fear of dying

What You Need To Know If You Get A Panic Attack

It is very common for clients that I work with to report that after their first panic attack they wound up going to the emergency room or visited their family doctor due to the level of physiological discomfort that can arise…which of course leads to anxious thoughts about what is going on, what is causing the discomfort, and what potential threats these feelings and sensations could be a sign of.

Panic attack

Understandably, going through a panic attack leads one to want to try to do whatever possible to keep it from happening again. For some, this escalates to frequent rumination and worry about the possibility of another panic attack coming, becoming hyper-sensitive to physical signs in your body that might be indicative of a panic attack, and/or avoiding situations or activities that you fear might lead to these feelings or another full-blown panic attack occurring.

Unfortunately, trying to focus on, control, worry about, or avoid the prospect of another panic episode can create a self-fulfilling cycle which backfires over time and unintentionally leads to more anxiety, as well as limitations on the life we want to live.

So, what can be done?

CBT For Panic Attacks

In Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), we look to flip these attempted strategies (which backfire) to control and avoid feelings of panic from occurring on their head. By doing so, one step at a time we create empowering opportunities to free yourself from the fear of experiencing fear, which is the real path towards reclaiming your life from panic attacks.

If you want to learn more about Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and how to beat panic attacks and reclaim your life, look here.

How To Beat Panic Attacks

If starting to experience a feeling or sensation of anxiety or panic, some starting steps towards long-term change are to:

• Recognize and simply note the feeling of anxiety and/or sensation in your body.

• If helpful, take 3 deep breaths fully completing your exhales.

• Remind yourself that this is an opportunity to make progress and that all you have to do is try to not add to the sensations with worrisome or catastrophic thoughts.

• Remembering that over-focusing on your feelings/sensations only escalates them, do your best to let go of attending to them and gently shift your focus outside of yourself and engage in something in the present moment.

• Imagining these sensations as a wave (that will pull you under if you try to block it), shift instead to trying to ride with it, knowing it is temporary discomfort that will pass.

• Re-engage your thoughts and focus on moving forward with what is most meaningful in the present, whether it is the content of the speech you are giving or walking outside the front door for the first time today.

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Reach Out For Help

If you or someone you know is struggling with panic attacks or feeling limited in life because of them, don’t hesitate to reach out for a consultation to learn how CBT can help.

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Hopefully, you enjoyed our piece on how to beat panic attacks and reclaim your life, and don’t be afraid to reach out to us for help!

Book a free consultation here today!

About the Author

Dr. Robert Yeilding, PsyD
Dr. Robert Yeilding, PsyD
Dr. Yeilding earned his doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology. He is a Diplomate of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy, and he currently serves as a board member for the National Social Anxiety Center, which is dedicated to fostering evidence-based treatment for social anxiety. Dr. Yeilding specializes in helping adults and adolescents with depressive and anxiety disorders, specializing in treating social anxiety, insomnia, panic disorder, OCD, and managing and finding growth in life transitions. He uses Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and mindfulness strategies, proven strategies that provide results.

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