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How to Cope with a Panic Attack

How to Cope with a Panic Attack

The many stressors of life can quickly lead to anxiety if they aren’t properly managed.

Our mental health often suffers when other areas of our lives become emotionally overwhelming or distressing. Whether it’s related to work, school, or family, dealing with panic attacks can become a problem when it negatively impacts your mental health. 

At Banyan Chicago, our team has experience managing panic attacks and helping many patients improve their mental health. While these attacks are common occurrences for many, not everyone knows how to cope with a panic attack. If you’re struggling with this problem, applying our tips for dealing with panic and anxiety can help. 

Symptoms of a Panic Attack 

Panic attacks can affect the mind and body in different ways; some people experience physical symptoms. Panic attacks can be terrifying, especially for people experiencing one for the first time. 
In order to avoid any scares, it’s important to know what the signs of panic attacks are, including: 

  • Fear of death
  • Rapid heart rate 
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Hot flashes 
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Chest pains
  • Headaches
  • Feeling detached from reality
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath or tightness in the throat or chest 
  • Nausea
  • Feeling of danger

Because this condition is fueled by thoughts and emotions, we offer cognitive behavioral therapy at Banyan Treatment Centers Chicago to help patients develop coping strategies for anxiety and panic attacks as well as CBT for co-occurring disorders when patients struggle with both anxiety and addiction.

Tips for Coping with Panic Attacks

Even if you’ve continuously suffered from this problem, you still may not know how to cope with a panic attack. Fortunately, the team at our drug and alcohol treatment center in Chicago has identified some tips to deal with panic attacks.  

Recognize You’re Having a Panic Attack 

Understanding the symptoms of a panic attack is key. The number one way to stop a panic attack is to recognize when it’s happening. If you have experienced a panic attack before, then you may already know what to look for. Listen to your body. Many people try to brush off these symptoms, attributing them instead to nervousness, but a legitimate panic attack can cause fainting spells, for instance. In order to stop a panic attack, you first have to acknowledge it. 


As obvious as this may seem, many people don’t realize how breathing affects emotions. Rapid breathing is a common symptom of panic attacks. Because these attacks are often associated with negative thoughts like impending doom, the person’s immediate response is to hyperventilate; however, continuously rapid and irregular breathing can cause a person to faint and is damaging to the heart. If you’re trying to stop a panic attack, stop what you’re doing and breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Count four seconds breathing in and four seconds breathing out. 

Focus on Something

When you’re experiencing a panic attack, your mind may feel like it’s going a mile a minute. When this happens, stop yourself. Pick one thing to focus on. It could be a painting on the wall, a person walking by, or even a dog. Once you’ve found your object of focus, describe each detail in your head. Rather than letting your thoughts run rampant, this exercise can help you focus your energy on just one object, allowing your symptoms to subside. 

Close Your Eyes

If you’re in a situation where a lot is happening around you, it can provoke a panic attack or make it worse. A good way to calm down during a panic attack is to close your eyes. Moving people, trains, busses, cars, noises – all this stimulation can exacerbate the body’s physical response to stress. Closing your eyes can help you block these triggers out and calm down. 

Focus on Muscle Relaxation

A good exercise that can help stop a panic attack is to focus on relaxing one muscle at a time. Muscles often tense up during instances of stress. By concentrating on relaxing each individual muscle starting from your shoulders down, you can ease the physical tension and symptoms.

Call Someone 

It often helps to have a support group that can help you in a time of need. If you’re struggling to calm down on your own, calling someone you know and trust can help remove you from the trap of a panic attack and bring you back to reality. 

Mental illness is often linked to addiction, whether mental illness drives a person to addiction or a mental illness develops as a result of substance abuse. At our rehab center in Illinois, we offer anxiety/panic disorder and addiction treatment that addresses the specific characteristics of these co-occurring disorders. 

If you or a loved one is battling a mental illness or addiction, our team can help. Call us today at 888-280-4763 for more information about our rehab facility and programs. 

Related Reading: 
Dealing with Anxiety Without Turning to Drugs or Alcohol

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.