How To Overcome Panic Attacks

Yes, it is possible to overcome panic attacks. The first step in doing this is to understand that panic attacks are not something to be ashamed of. They are a natural, if excessive, response to stressful situations.

Our bodies are programmed to respond to threatening situations with fear, a huge adrenalin rush and an overwhelming desire either to attack or to run away – the ‘fight or flight’ response.

If you were faced with a man-eating tiger or, more likely, a truck coming toward you at a hundred miles an hour, the fear and panic that you feel would actually help you. It would give you instant reactions, a rush of energy and, sometimes, almost superhuman strength.


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So all that is happening during an anxiety attack is that you are getting these life-saving reactions in a situation where they are not necessary or useful. In fact, they are so inappropriate that you may feel that they are ruining your life. They may even add to the stress and anxiety that you constantly feel, by making you worry that you are going crazy. But you are not. You are just having unusually strong reactions to stress.

Panic attacks can be terrifying and often cause a person to withdraw from the world to the extent that you may feel you are not really living any more. The attacks may seem like a massive rock hanging over your head, that may fall on you at any moment. This puts you under a huge amount of stress in most normal life situations, and that stress contributes to more panic attacks. So it’s a vicious cycle.

First Thing You Must Do To Overcome Panic Attacks

The first thing to do is to work on truly believing that you can overcome panic attacks. This has two parts: one, understanding that it is possible to overcome panic attacks, which you can learn from talking to or reading about other people who have done it. The second part involves coming to believe that YOU can do it. For this you will probably need help from a therapist or online self-help program.

Once you begin to have more confidence in your ability to recover and get your life back, you have broken the vicious hold that the attacks have on you. At that point, it is important to begin to let go of your ‘safe behaviors’ such as the things that you carry with you or rely on whenever an attack seems possible.

We’re not talking here about giving up medication, of course, but any item or mascot that you carry or need for superstitious reasons. You feel it protects you from attacks, but it really does not. In fact, having that thing just makes you more vulnerable to panic attacks because it reinforces the (incorrect) belief that panic attacks are beyond your control.

When you give up this kind of ‘protection’ it is important to do it gradually. Do not throw out the item that you used to carry everywhere, but leave it somewhere in your home and practice moving a little further from it each day. If you need to go on a long trip, you can still take it.

In the same way, you can gradually reclaim activities that you have given up because you believe they trigger attacks. If you never leave the house, step outside and just stand there for a moment before going back in. Gradually increase this until you are able to walk some distance from the house. At the same time, understand that if you do have an attack, it didn’t happen because you left the house. It happened because of the stress that you were under.

Of course, this means that any technique that you can use to reduce stress will also help you overcome panic attacks. We recommend that you discuss with a therapist or consult a self-help program for exercises in stress reduction, and practice them faithfully every day. This will give you the best chance to overcome panic attacks.


Have you managed to overcome panic attacks? If so then please share your experiences below!

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