How to Recover After a Panic Attack

How to Recover After a Panic Attack

Having a panic attack can be very frightening, but they’re usually not harmful to your health. During a panic attack, you might feel intense fear and loss of control, along with scary physical symptoms, like shortness of breath and rapid heart rate.[1] X Trustworthy Source Mayo Clinic Educational website from one of the world's leading hospitals Go to source Panic attacks usually last for 5-20 minutes, but you might experience symptoms for up to 1 hour.[2] X Trustworthy Source National Health Service (UK) Public healthcare system of the UK Go to source

Method 1 of 3:
Calming Yourself Down

1
Use positive self-talk to counter your anxious thoughts. A panic attack can be really scary, and you may feel like you’re having a medical emergency or have lost control. Reminding yourself that you’re experiencing anxiety and will feel better can help you calm down faster. Tell yourself that this is only temporary and things will get better. Keep telling yourself this until your panic attack passes. [3] X Research source Tell yourself things like, “This is temporary. I’ll feel better soon,” “This is scary but it’ll end soon,” and “I’m going to be okay.” Repeat the statements until you feel better.

Alternative: You might prefer to repeat a mantra instead. You might tell yourself something like, “This too shall pass,” “I am strong,” or “Everything is temporary.”

2
Do deep breathing exercises to help relax your body. Lie down or sit up straight. Place one hand over your chest and one hand over your stomach. Slowly breathe in through your nose and draw the air into your stomach. Then, slowly exhale through your mouth. Continue for 5-10 minutes. [4] X Research source As you breathe, you should feel the hand over your stomach going up and down, but the hand over your chest should stay in place.
3
Picture calming and positive images in your mind. Visualizing things that make you happy isn’t a cure for panic attacks, but might help you recover faster. Find your happy place and imagine that you’re there, or simply think about people, things, places, or memes that make you feel good. [5] X Trustworthy Source National Health Service (UK) Public healthcare system of the UK Go to source As an example, you might imagine the beach or a cozy ski resort. You could also think about your pet, your best friend, or a happy memory.
4
Perform progressive muscle relaxation to release muscle tension. You may feel a lot of lingering tension in your body that can make it hard to feel calm. To release it, sit or lie down and get comfortable. Starting at your toes, tighten each muscle group, then release it. Take long deep breaths as you go from your toes up to your shoulders. [6] X Trustworthy Source HelpGuide Industry-leading nonprofit dedicated to promoting mental health issues Go to source You should feel relaxed after you do this. If not, try doing it again.
5
Talk to someone you trust to help relieve your stress or anxiety. Expressing your worries or concerns may help you feel better. Contact a friend, loved one, or your therapist so you can vent. Tell them what you’re going through, what you think triggered your attack, and how you feel at the moment. [7] X Trustworthy Source HelpGuide Industry-leading nonprofit dedicated to promoting mental health issues Go to source It may help if you have a list of go-to people you can call or visit if you need to talk. Writing down your thoughts may also help. If you don’t feel like talking or aren’t sure who to call, write out all of your thoughts on paper or in a word processor.
6
Use aromatherapy to help you relax and recover. Smelling calming scents may help you feel better faster after a panic attack. [8] X Trustworthy Source National Health Service (UK) Public healthcare system of the UK Go to source Use a scent like lavender to help you feel calm or a scent like orange to boost your mood. Simply sniff the oil for an easy option, or put the essential oil in a diffuser to fill the room with scent. [9] X Research source If you like, get an aromatherapy lotion that you can rub on your skin when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
7
Try yoga to help calm your mind and body. Yoga helps you relax right after a panic attack and may help you avoid future attacks. Take a yoga class to get professional instruction if you can. You might also try a yoga video workout. When you’re recovering from a panic attack, do your favorite yoga poses to help you feel calm and connected to your body. [10] X Trustworthy Source Mayo Clinic Educational website from one of the world's leading hospitals Go to source You can find yoga classes at a local gym or yoga studio. If you prefer a video workout, there are several options online or you can buy a yoga dvd.
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Method 2 of 3:
Caring for Yourself After a Panic Attack

1
Engage your 5 senses to help ground you in the moment. A panic attack can make you feel disconnected or disoriented. Fortunately, doing a grounding exercise may help you feel better. Focus on what you can see, hear, smell, feel, and touch. This will help you feel more connected with your body. [11] X Research source For instance, you might tell yourself something like, “I can see sunshine and clouds in the sky, I hear birds chirping, I feel the heat from the sun, I smell the lotion on my skin, and I taste a mint.”
2
Satisfy your physical needs to help you feel better. After a panic attack, it’s normal to feel exhausted. To help you feel better, eat a healthy meal or snack and drink lots of water. You might also rest and relax until you feel better. [12] X Research source Listen to what your body needs. If you feel like you need to move around to let go of nervous energy, do that instead of resting.
3
Do an aerobic exercise to help improve your mood. Exercise helps you feel calmer and happier, so it’s helpful for coping after a panic attack. [13] X Trustworthy Source Mayo Clinic Educational website from one of the world's leading hospitals Go to source Aim for 30 minutes of exercise to help you cope with anxiety. Choose a moderate exercise, like brisk walking, that won't be too strenuous on your body. [14] X Trustworthy Source HelpGuide Industry-leading nonprofit dedicated to promoting mental health issues Go to source For instance, you might go for a walk outside or dance along to your favorite songs. It’s okay to break your exercise into three 10-minute blocks if that’s easier for you.
4
Limit your sugar intake until you start to feel better. Sugar is a stimulant, so consuming too much may alter your mood. In some cases, this can trigger or worsen an attack, even if you’ve just had one. Minimize your sugar intake while you’re recovering from a panic attack. [15] X Trustworthy Source National Health Service (UK) Public healthcare system of the UK Go to source You may be tempted to eat candy or treats to help you feel better, but try not to do this. It might actually make you feel worse.
5
Abstain from caffeine, alcohol, smoking, and drugs after a panic attack. Stimulants and depressants can worsen or trigger panic attacks. While you’re in recovery, focus on trying to calm yourself. Steer clear of substances that might make you feel worse. [16] X Research source You might even eliminate them from your diet altogether to help you manage your panic attacks.

Warning: If you have panic attacks, don’t take over-the-counter cold treatments or diet pills. These contain stimulants, so they may worsen your attacks.[17] X Trustworthy Source HelpGuide Industry-leading nonprofit dedicated to promoting mental health issues Go to source

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Method 3 of 3:
Seeing a Doctor or Therapist

1
Get medical treatment immediately if this is your first panic attack. You probably don’t need to worry, but panic attacks have the same symptoms as other more serious conditions. To be on the safe side, seek immediate medical care to make sure what you had was a panic attack. You may experience a mix of the following symptoms during a panic attack: [18] X Trustworthy Source Mayo Clinic Educational website from one of the world's leading hospitals Go to source Feelings of fear or danger Loss of control and/or detachment from reality Rapid heart rate Sweating and trembling Shortness of breath Chest pain Chills or hot flashes Nausea or abdominal cramping Headache, dizziness, and fainting Numbness and tingling
2
Work with a doctor to manage panic attacks. Although panic attacks can be recurring, treatments are available. You might be able to prevent future attacks or recover from them faster. Talk to your doctor to learn which treatment options may be best for you. [19] X Trustworthy Source Mayo Clinic Educational website from one of the world's leading hospitals Go to source Your doctor may be able to prescribe an anxiety medication or could refer you to a therapist.
3
Participate in talk-therapy to help you manage panic attacks. Dealing with panic attacks can be difficult, but a therapist can help. Your therapist can help you deal with your worries and can help you learn new coping strategies. Ask your doctor to refer you to a therapist or find one online. [20] X Trustworthy Source Mayo Clinic Educational website from one of the world's leading hospitals Go to source Your therapy appointments may be covered by insurance, so check your benefits.
4
Ask your doctor if medications may help you manage your symptoms. If you have severe anxiety and panic attacks, you and your doctor might decide that medication is the right treatment for you. Talk to your doctor about medications that are available. Your doctor may prescribe one of the following medications: [21] X Trustworthy Source National Health Service (UK) Public healthcare system of the UK Go to source An antidepressant, like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or tricyclic antidepressants Pregabalin or clonazepam to help with your anxiety
Advertisement

Method 1 of 3:
Calming Yourself Down

1
Use positive self-talk to counter your anxious thoughts. A panic attack can be really scary, and you may feel like you’re having a medical emergency or have lost control. Reminding yourself that you’re experiencing anxiety and will feel better can help you calm down faster. Tell yourself that this is only temporary and things will get better. Keep telling yourself this until your panic attack passes. [3] X Research source Tell yourself things like, “This is temporary. I’ll feel better soon,” “This is scary but it’ll end soon,” and “I’m going to be okay.” Repeat the statements until you feel better.

Alternative: You might prefer to repeat a mantra instead. You might tell yourself something like, “This too shall pass,” “I am strong,” or “Everything is temporary.”

2
Do deep breathing exercises to help relax your body. Lie down or sit up straight. Place one hand over your chest and one hand over your stomach. Slowly breathe in through your nose and draw the air into your stomach. Then, slowly exhale through your mouth. Continue for 5-10 minutes. [4] X Research source As you breathe, you should feel the hand over your stomach going up and down, but the hand over your chest should stay in place.
3
Picture calming and positive images in your mind. Visualizing things that make you happy isn’t a cure for panic attacks, but might help you recover faster. Find your happy place and imagine that you’re there, or simply think about people, things, places, or memes that make you feel good. [5] X Trustworthy Source National Health Service (UK) Public healthcare system of the UK Go to source As an example, you might imagine the beach or a cozy ski resort. You could also think about your pet, your best friend, or a happy memory.
4
Perform progressive muscle relaxation to release muscle tension. You may feel a lot of lingering tension in your body that can make it hard to feel calm. To release it, sit or lie down and get comfortable. Starting at your toes, tighten each muscle group, then release it. Take long deep breaths as you go from your toes up to your shoulders. [6] X Trustworthy Source HelpGuide Industry-leading nonprofit dedicated to promoting mental health issues Go to source You should feel relaxed after you do this. If not, try doing it again.
5
Talk to someone you trust to help relieve your stress or anxiety. Expressing your worries or concerns may help you feel better. Contact a friend, loved one, or your therapist so you can vent. Tell them what you’re going through, what you think triggered your attack, and how you feel at the moment. [7] X Trustworthy Source HelpGuide Industry-leading nonprofit dedicated to promoting mental health issues Go to source It may help if you have a list of go-to people you can call or visit if you need to talk. Writing down your thoughts may also help. If you don’t feel like talking or aren’t sure who to call, write out all of your thoughts on paper or in a word processor.
6
Use aromatherapy to help you relax and recover. Smelling calming scents may help you feel better faster after a panic attack. [8] X Trustworthy Source National Health Service (UK) Public healthcare system of the UK Go to source Use a scent like lavender to help you feel calm or a scent like orange to boost your mood. Simply sniff the oil for an easy option, or put the essential oil in a diffuser to fill the room with scent. [9] X Research source If you like, get an aromatherapy lotion that you can rub on your skin when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
7
Try yoga to help calm your mind and body. Yoga helps you relax right after a panic attack and may help you avoid future attacks. Take a yoga class to get professional instruction if you can. You might also try a yoga video workout. When you’re recovering from a panic attack, do your favorite yoga poses to help you feel calm and connected to your body. [10] X Trustworthy Source Mayo Clinic Educational website from one of the world's leading hospitals Go to source You can find yoga classes at a local gym or yoga studio. If you prefer a video workout, there are several options online or you can buy a yoga dvd.
Advertisement

Method 2 of 3:
Caring for Yourself After a Panic Attack

1
Engage your 5 senses to help ground you in the moment. A panic attack can make you feel disconnected or disoriented. Fortunately, doing a grounding exercise may help you feel better. Focus on what you can see, hear, smell, feel, and touch. This will help you feel more connected with your body. [11] X Research source For instance, you might tell yourself something like, “I can see sunshine and clouds in the sky, I hear birds chirping, I feel the heat from the sun, I smell the lotion on my skin, and I taste a mint.”
2
Satisfy your physical needs to help you feel better. After a panic attack, it’s normal to feel exhausted. To help you feel better, eat a healthy meal or snack and drink lots of water. You might also rest and relax until you feel better. [12] X Research source Listen to what your body needs. If you feel like you need to move around to let go of nervous energy, do that instead of resting.
3
Do an aerobic exercise to help improve your mood. Exercise helps you feel calmer and happier, so it’s helpful for coping after a panic attack. [13] X Trustworthy Source Mayo Clinic Educational website from one of the world's leading hospitals Go to source Aim for 30 minutes of exercise to help you cope with anxiety. Choose a moderate exercise, like brisk walking, that won't be too strenuous on your body. [14] X Trustworthy Source HelpGuide Industry-leading nonprofit dedicated to promoting mental health issues Go to source For instance, you might go for a walk outside or dance along to your favorite songs. It’s okay to break your exercise into three 10-minute blocks if that’s easier for you.
4
Limit your sugar intake until you start to feel better. Sugar is a stimulant, so consuming too much may alter your mood. In some cases, this can trigger or worsen an attack, even if you’ve just had one. Minimize your sugar intake while you’re recovering from a panic attack. [15] X Trustworthy Source National Health Service (UK) Public healthcare system of the UK Go to source You may be tempted to eat candy or treats to help you feel better, but try not to do this. It might actually make you feel worse.
5
Abstain from caffeine, alcohol, smoking, and drugs after a panic attack. Stimulants and depressants can worsen or trigger panic attacks. While you’re in recovery, focus on trying to calm yourself. Steer clear of substances that might make you feel worse. [16] X Research source You might even eliminate them from your diet altogether to help you manage your panic attacks.

Warning: If you have panic attacks, don’t take over-the-counter cold treatments or diet pills. These contain stimulants, so they may worsen your attacks.[17] X Trustworthy Source HelpGuide Industry-leading nonprofit dedicated to promoting mental health issues Go to source

Advertisement

Method 3 of 3:
Seeing a Doctor or Therapist

1
Get medical treatment immediately if this is your first panic attack. You probably don’t need to worry, but panic attacks have the same symptoms as other more serious conditions. To be on the safe side, seek immediate medical care to make sure what you had was a panic attack. You may experience a mix of the following symptoms during a panic attack: [18] X Trustworthy Source Mayo Clinic Educational website from one of the world's leading hospitals Go to source Feelings of fear or danger Loss of control and/or detachment from reality Rapid heart rate Sweating and trembling Shortness of breath Chest pain Chills or hot flashes Nausea or abdominal cramping Headache, dizziness, and fainting Numbness and tingling
2
Work with a doctor to manage panic attacks. Although panic attacks can be recurring, treatments are available. You might be able to prevent future attacks or recover from them faster. Talk to your doctor to learn which treatment options may be best for you. [19] X Trustworthy Source Mayo Clinic Educational website from one of the world's leading hospitals Go to source Your doctor may be able to prescribe an anxiety medication or could refer you to a therapist.
3
Participate in talk-therapy to help you manage panic attacks. Dealing with panic attacks can be difficult, but a therapist can help. Your therapist can help you deal with your worries and can help you learn new coping strategies. Ask your doctor to refer you to a therapist or find one online. [20] X Trustworthy Source Mayo Clinic Educational website from one of the world's leading hospitals Go to source Your therapy appointments may be covered by insurance, so check your benefits.
4
Ask your doctor if medications may help you manage your symptoms. If you have severe anxiety and panic attacks, you and your doctor might decide that medication is the right treatment for you. Talk to your doctor about medications that are available. Your doctor may prescribe one of the following medications: [21] X Trustworthy Source National Health Service (UK) Public healthcare system of the UK Go to source An antidepressant, like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or tricyclic antidepressants Pregabalin or clonazepam to help with your anxiety
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