3 Tips for Surviving a Panic Attack

October 12, 2018 | A path to an informed electorate The Iowa Clinic Executive Health Department, iowaclinic.com/executive-health

Your heart races. Your chest tightens up and breathing becomes difficult. You feel dizzy and lightheaded. And an impending sense of doom comes over you.

Something’s wrong, but you don’t know what. You just know you need help ASAP.

Help is closer than you think because you’re having a panic attack. As scary as your physical symptoms are, you are in no real danger and your health is fine.

The major stresses of life in the business world can cause panic attacks. They are more common if you’re sensitive to stress and negative emotions. And they have triggers. The places, people and things you associate with stress and negative emotions can cause future panic attacks.

That can make your work life difficult if you can’t get your triggers under control. But you can stop a panic attack if you feel an episode coming on.

  1. Remind yourself it’s only temporary. Awareness of your triggers, your body andvyour symptoms can help you remind yourself that you’re feeling panicky — and not in real danger. Early recognition helps you strip the fear away, reducing your physical symptoms.
  2. Take a deep breath. The scariest part of a panic attack might be that you can’t breathe. But there’s nothing physically preventing you from doing so. Breathe deeply and slowly to keep from hyperventilating, and keep it up until your breathing is back to normal.
  3. Steer clear of your triggers. Go to another place — even if it’s just in your mind. Blocking out your triggers helps you remove yourself from the situation that’s causing your panic and allows you to concentrate on stopping it.

The quicker you can identify a panic attack and take steps to stop it, the easier it is to return to normal. The fear will subside, and with it, the other symptoms. If you can’t get it under control, seek medical attention right away. The signs of a panic attack are similar to those of a heart attack or stroke. Get help to calm your fears and assure that what you’re experiencing isn’t something worse.