How To Calm:
Anxiety Attack & Panic Disorder Strategies


Anyone that has experienced anxiety attacks or has a panic disorder knows just how terrible they are...

The most precise words used to describe them don’t do the misery justice.



I’ll share some tips and tricks for how to calm anxiety attacks and panic disorder…

but first I want to take a moment to give a brief overview of panic/anxiety attacks and panic disorders.

What Is A Panic Attack?


You know when you are driving in the ice and snow and your car starts to slide or spin?


You feel the adrenaline rush.  You may feel startled and even freak out for a moment or two.  


Panic attacks feel a bit like that… except they last much longer and there may not be a triggering event that precedes them.  

They come on suddenly and you feel intense fear or panic.

They are so overwhelming that you can’t think clearly.  

You are completely overcome by fear.  

How To Calm: Anxiety Attack Strategies

Why do anxiety attacks occur?

For some people, panic attacks are fairly predictable.  There are known triggers (say, for instance, being at a social event or public speaking).


Other people report no triggers at all and the panic and anxiety come out of nowhere.  


Here’s what we do know, you are at increased risk of experiencing panic attacks if you: 

  • Have a diagnosis of panic or anxiety disorder
  • Use certain substances or medications that are known to cause anxiety in some people
  • In active psychosis
  • Have an overactive thyroid (which is easily determined by a blood test)

How do I know that I am having a panic attack?

f you want to get technical, clinicians turn to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). 


The DSM is the bible of psychiatric disorders.  It defines a panic attack as “an abrupt surge of intense fear or discomfort.”

According to the DSM, common symptoms include:
  • An increased heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Feeling unsteady, shaky, or even trembling
  • Difficulty breathing- to the point that you may pass out 
  • Chest pain that can be intense enough to mimic a heart attack
  • Stomach upset- vomiting, diarrhea or both
  • Chills or feeling hot
  • Life takes on a surreal quality
  • An out-of-body experience.  You may feel detached from the world and yourself
  • You feel like you are going crazy

With panic and anxiety, it can feel like everything has sped up and the world is out of control.

This is because you are ruminating. 

You have hundred of scary thoughts and ideas running through your brain at a rapid clip. 

How To Calm: Anxiety Attack Strategies

What can I do to keep anxiety attacks from happening?

There isn’t a surefire way to guarantee an attack-free life.

However, there are many things to calm down your overly anxious nervous system.  

  • Exercise regularly
  • Practice meditation and breathing exercises
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and smoking  
  • Start counseling
  • Attend a support group

In my previous blog post, I shared 9 tips on how to prevent and manage anxiety and I go into greater detail.

Should I seek out a doctor?

It may be quite helpful to do so.  


Especially if you find that panic and anxiety attacks are happening regularly and interfering with your life.  


Or if you find yourself avoiding activities or things that you once enjoyed.  

Your medical doctor can talk through options with you and share effective medications that could help alleviate your symptoms.  

How To Calm: Anxiety Attack Strategies

I need to know how to stop my panic attacks!

Panic attacks are scary.


  I’ll share strategies so you can stop/manage your panic attacks. 

1. Recognize that you’re having a panic attack

Sounds simple, I know.  


However, it takes time for most people to realize that the extreme anxiety they are experiencing has a name.  


When you can name it, you are more equipped and empowered to deal with it.   

For example:

  • You can remind yourself that the feelings will pass.
  • You can look at the evidence regarding your panic attacks while reminding yourself that the anxiety attacks have never lasted forever.
  • You can recognize that you will be okay just like you have been in the past.
  • You know there isn’t something medically wrong with you and you aren’t going to die.  Rather, you are flooded with anxiety.  

Reminding yourself of these things can help you to stop catastrophizing. 


It can help you to put your attention towards the tools you’ve learned to help calm and soothe yourself. 

2. Close your eyes
  • Closing your eyes can be helpful in an overstimulating environment.
  • Because anxiety speeds everything up, the stimuli can cause greater overwhelm.  This can add “fuel to the fire” of your panic.  

Closing your eyes may help you to block out the dizzying environment that you are in and make it easier to get more grounded and calm.


I have several more suggestions on how to calm anxiety attack and panic attacks. 



In the next blog post, I’ll examine 4 more ways you can work towards calm during a panic attack. 

Are you ready to give therapy a go?

Free free to contact me directly if you have questions or to schedule a brief call to see if I might be able to support you as you journey forward.


Looking for mental health services in Indy?

As a marriage and family therapist, I also offer: 

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