How do I Overcome Panic Attacks?

Article Details
  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 26 December 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article

Panic attacks are horrendous experiences for most people. Sudden panic that results in feelings like heart attack, a pounding heart, a feeling of faintness, a fear the symptoms are causing death or a dip into insanity, accompanied by rapid breathing or hyperventilation are frightening and obviously worth preventing in the future. There are a number of ways that people may overcome panic attacks, and the standard methods involve therapy and possibly medication.

It’s important to understand the root cause of panic attacks and this is not simply “nerves.” Some people are genetically predisposed to hit the panic state whether or not stressors are present. Others may have dysfunction occurring in the brain that causes these, and some people may respond to extreme stress by having one. Usually the first two potential causes are more likely when people having recurring panic attacks, though some people have a bout of attacks during a high stress time in their lives and then don’t have them again.

The medically accepted ways to overcome panic attacks is by using therapy, and in particular cognitive behavioral therapy is favored. Other forms of therapy may still be helpful. In cognitive behavioral therapy, people learn to find core thoughts that govern their behavior, and especially look at types of thinking that contribute to problems instead of being constructive.


There are several destructive thinking patterns that may occur when a person is in the midst of an attack, which can include feeling that the attack will cause death, believing bad things about the self as the attack is occurring, and worrying about the attack, thus creating more panic. Making more of an attack than is necessary can seriously impair ability to live life, and spending time in constant fear of one, makes it difficult to do anything else. As people begin to use cognitive behavioral therapy methods, they start to contextualize attacks, and find them easier to recover from. A less stressed state may lead to fewer attacks.

Therapy is often combined with use of specific medications, which may assist people with panic or generalized anxiety disorder. These include selected serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Paxil® Prozac® or Zoloft®, and anti-anxiety medications like Buspar®. Sometimes people take short acting tranquilizers like Xanax®, Valium® or others to help when stress seems to be getting high.

Other things can certainly help overcome panic attacks and are excellent when paired with treatment. Getting exercise is very important, as this helps to produce mood-stabilizing chemicals that the person who has panic attacks may only possess in short supply. People also evolve coping strategies to reduce stress, and these can include things like meditation, diaphragmatic breathing, or practicing yoga.

It would be fantastic to say that people can overcome panic attacks to the degree where they never experience one again. This isn’t always the case. Some people will continue to have them from time to time, but with treatment they usually occur less frequently, and when placed in the proper context, people can often have the attack and move right on with life. Sometimes people overcome them for a number of years and find they return, in which case, more treatment or reviewing things learned in therapy might be necessary.



Discuss this Article

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?