How to Calm an Anxiety Attack

anxiety-attack

Do you think you are having an anxiety attack? Learn the signs and the best ways to deal with an anxiety attack.

What is an Anxiety Attack and What are its Signs and Symptoms?

An anxiety attack is a mental health condition that arises due to fear, worry and anxiety. It is a sudden condition that may occur due to the apprehension and worry of some future event. The condition generally occurs due to a specific trigger related to personal or professional life.

Triggers for Anxiety Attacks

Anxiety attacks can be caused due to a variety of reasons. For example, consider a patient with Crohn’s Disease. The chronic disease causes inflammation in the bowel and it has no cure. In this case, the patient may have an anxiety attack due to their illness. Another example is a person experiencing severe pain in their chest radiating towards the hands. In this case, the perceived fear that the pain might be a heart attack acts as a trigger for an anxiety attack.

Symptoms of Anxiety Attacks

Different people experience different kinds of symptoms during an anxiety attack. A patient with an anxiety attack may have difficulty relaxing, restlessness, irritability, fatigue, thinking negatively about the future, nervousness, tension and anxiety. The signs of an anxiety attack include difficulty sleeping, rapid heart rate, muscle tension, shaking, sweating, chest & throat tightness, anxiety with nausea and headache.

Difference Between Anxiety Attack and Panic Attack

An anxiety attack and panic attack are different mental health conditions. Here is the difference between an anxiety attack and panic attack:

  • The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) includes panic attacks whereas anxiety attacks are not included. Anxiety disorder in DSM5 includes panic disorder.
  • The symptoms of a panic attack are more severe in comparison to symptoms of an anxiety attack.
  • Panic attacks may be expected or unexpected. An unexpected panic attack may occur without
  • t any trigger, while expected panic attack causes include stress. Anxiety attacks, in most cases, are due to a specific trigger.
  • The symptoms of panic attacks occur suddenly, whereas the symptoms of an anxiety attack build up gradually.
  • Anxiety attacks last for a shorter duration, whereas panic attacks last for a longer duration.

10 Calming Methods to Deal with Anxiety Attacks

In many cases, calming anxiety is very difficult. It is more difficult in situations when the anxiety seems out of control and spiraling aggressively. Initially, anxiety creates a vicious cycle that results in an anxiety attack. Once the mind focuses on fear, a lot of chemical changes occur in the body. This makes the person believe that fear is inevitable. These changes result in more anxiety and the cycle continues in this fashion. If you are experiencing chronic anxiety or frequent anxiety attacks, you should take the help of a mental health professional. Psychotherapists and anxiety counselors can help in managing anxiety and anxiety attacks.

Various techniques help reduce anxiety and prevent the cycle that causes anxiety attacks. However, it is important to note that these techniques do not show their effects overnight. A person must learn, practice and master these techniques effectively to gain the best out of them.

Here are 10 methods to deal with anxiety attacks:

1. Breathing Technique

The Breathing Technique helps in managing different types of anxiety attacks. Breathing exercises, such as belly breathing or alternate nostril breathing, improves brain function, promotes sound sleep and revitalizes the nervous system. While performing this technique, focus on your breath. Breathe into your lungs, hold your breath to the count of four, and exhale slowly to induce a feeling of relaxation and calm.

2. Counting Technique

When negative thoughts surround you, the counting technique may help reduce anxiety. Search for a quiet place and start counting backwards starting from 100. You may also add complexities such as counting backwards within a limited time. Subtracting numbers also helps in managing anxiety attacks.

3. The 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique

The 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Techniqueprovides relief from anxiety attacks by helping you focus on your senses. In this technique, the person identifies 5 things they can see, 4 things they can feel, 3 things they can hear, 2 things they can smell and 1 thing they can taste.

4. Focus and Concentration Technique

Concentrating on an object may also help in managing anxiety attacks. Focus on various aspects of the object, such as the color, weight and shape. You can take your favorite object with you and initiate the calming exercise when you experience the symptoms of anxiety.

5. Distraction Technique

Anxiety chimes in when we focus more on the emotional and physical triggers. Distraction techniques help divert the mind from the worries and engage it in those activities which are not emotionally driven. For instance, you could watch for the shadows of various objects in the room or count variations of a particular color.

6. Energy Diversion Technique

Sometimes, people have trouble executing grounding techniques due to anxiety. Thus, it is important to divert their energy in some other activities. This includes running stairs up and down, dancing or running on a treadmill. 

7. Rationalization Technique 

Through this technique, you will be able to rationalize your thoughts. When due to any circumstance, a negative thought starts building in your head, question yourself about its rationality. This will help in pausing and moving past the irrational thoughts.

8. Thought Flow Technique

In anxiety, negative thoughts come to mind repetitively and worsen the condition. Thus, it is important to flow the thoughts in a way that does not result in anxiety. One method is to visualize your thoughts in the form of a river and let them flow as you calm yourself.

9. Anxiety Accepting Technique

Start accepting anxiety as a normal emotional feeling. This is important because trying to get rid of anxiety hastily usually worsens the condition. By gradually accepting anxiety, you will reap the benefit of accepting reality as it is.

10. Positive Mindset Technique

Anxiety creates negative thoughts and energy inside you. To counter this, you should have a positive mindset. Whenever anxiety comes in, make your mind believe that it isn’t bad to have anxiety, and that some techniques can help effectively manage anxiety.

How to Prevent Anxiety Attacks from Happening in the Future

There are various ways to prevent an anxiety attack from happening. Some common anxiety preventive methods are:

Meditation

Meditation is effective in reducing and managing anxiety. Meditation allows the person to live in the present and reduce the worries of the future. Few minutes of meditation per day could do wonders in preventing anxiety attacks.

Exercise

Exercise is another way to prevent anxiety attacks. It increases the release of various chemicals that relax the mind and body. Start with simple exercises, such as walking or jogging, and then move on to more vigorous or strenuous exercises.

Yoga

Yoga is also useful in preventing anxiety attacks. Yoga provides the benefits of both exercise and meditation, along with providing flexibility to the mind and body. You can perform yoga at home or by joining in-person classes.

Relax

Because of our busy lifestyle, there is an excessive accumulation of stress. Further, people are unable to take out the time from their busy schedules to relax. Relaxing allows a person to analyze their life and avoid stressors. You should also take plenty of rest and sleep, as sleep disorders such as insomnia may also cause anxiety.

Stay Hydrated

Lack of water in the body causes several problems, including anxiety. You should drink enough water to remain hydrated. Avoid drinks such as soda or alcohol, as they cause dehydration.

Healthy Diet

The deficiency of certain vitamins and minerals may cause anxiety. Incorporate vitamin-rich foods into your diet. Such foods include asparagus, omega-3 fatty acids, and probiotics.

Anxiety Counseling for Anxiety Disorder

Counseling is one of the most important options for the management and treatment of anxiety disorder. The counselor determines the factors causing anxiety and helps provide the techniques to cope with the effects of anxiety. The advantage of counseling sessions over medication is that while medication only provides relief from the symptoms, counseling goes deeper into the patient’s life to determine the root of the problem.

For example, if someone becomes anxious while attending social gatherings, the counselor will provide techniques that build confidence in them. Once the confidence sets in, the anxiety leaves. Counseling also helps to build confidence while performing day-to-day activities.

CBT Therapy for Managing Anxiety

Various types of psychological disorders require counseling. The counselor offers a customized approach that best matches the needs of the patient. There are various types of counseling techniques to cope with anxiety. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most common and highly effective techniques for managing anxiety disorder.

Through cognitive behavioral techniques, the counselor will ask about your emotional and physical health in detail. The CBT therapist will also ask you various personal questions for a deeper understanding of your problem. The therapist will help you identify the areas that you want to work upon. The counselor will then ask you to share your feelings and views about the identified issues. The counselor then determines the negative thoughts that you develop in anxious situations. The counselor, then, reshapes your negative thoughts and provides you with the various techniques and methods to deal with anxiety as a result of these thoughts.

Table of Contents