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  • Writer's pictureBeth Tellez

Coping strategies for managing panic symptoms

Panic attacks can be incredibly overwhelming and distressing experiences. They often come on suddenly, causing intense feelings of fear and anxiety. However, there are strategies that can help you regain control when a panic attack strikes. In this post, we'll explore some strategies to implement when needing to manage panic symptoms.

Recognize the Signs of Panic Symptoms:

The first step in managing a panic attack is to recognize the signs. Symptoms can vary from person to person but often include rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, trembling, sweating, and a sense of impending doom. Understanding that you're experiencing a panic attack and not a life-threatening event is crucial to decreasing symptoms.

Deep Breathing:

anxious woman
Panic symptoms can impact functioning

Deep breathing exercises can be highly effective in calming your body's response to panic. Try the 4-7-8 technique: Inhale for a count of four, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale slowly for eight seconds. Repeat this cycle until you start to feel more relaxed.

Grounding Techniques:

Grounding techniques help you connect with the present moment and divert your focus from anxious thoughts. One method is the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise. Name five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This sensory grounding can help you regain a sense of control.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation:

Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups in your body. This can help release physical tension associated with panic. Start with your toes and work your way up to your head, systematically relaxing each muscle group.

Challenge Negative Thoughts:

Panic attacks often stem from irrational or catastrophic thinking. Challenge these thoughts by asking yourself questions like, "What's the evidence for this thought?" or "Is there a more rational explanation?" This can help reduce the intensity of your panic.

Mindfulness Meditation:

Practicing mindfulness can be a powerful tool in managing panic attacks. Mindfulness meditation teaches you to observe your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Over time, this can reduce the frequency and intensity of panic attacks.

Carry a "Coping Kit":

Create a small kit containing items that provide comfort during a panic attack. This could include calming music, a stress ball, a comforting photo, mints, or a list of emergency contacts. Having these items readily available can provide a sense of security.

Seek Professional Help for Panic Symptoms:

man in therapy
Therapy can help you explore your anxiety

If panic attacks persist and significantly impact your life, consider seeking help from a therapist. Therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can provide you with long-term strategies for managing anxiety and panic.

Panic attacks can be frightening, but with the right strategies, you can learn to manage and reduce them. Remember that these techniques may require practice, so be patient with yourself. Additionally, if panic attacks are a recurring issue, don't hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional for guidance and support. You are not alone, and there is help available! If you would like to connect with one of our therapists, please contact us today at

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