Ask anyone who experiences panic what they wish for most, and they will likely say: “To be able to control and stop my panic”

To define panic: Panic is a second layer on top of anxiety. Panic is when you feel dizzy and faint, shaky, tight in your chest, experience blurred vision and hyperventilate… in addition to feeling anxious – heart racing, feeling hot and sweaty, tense muscles, and increased blood pressure. If you experience panic, life itself can feel terrifying. Simple moments can be scary, as you fear the next panic attack. You may be doing the supermarket shopping, driving, catching up with a friend or going to work; and these moments may feel threatening.

Your fear of panic may be so intense that you do everything you can to prevent another attack. You may avoid doing certain things to lessen the likelihood of panic or you may put things in place to escape or minimise your chances of another panic attack – for example, you may sit near the door of a restaurant or movie cinema, or you may pre-plan excuses to allow for a quick exit.

However, despite putting these things in place, you may still experience panic, which often seems like it comes out of nowhere. What’s worse, is when panic comes on there feels like very little you can do to stop it. You may fear you’re having a heart attack or going to die. You may even take yourself to emergency.

How to Stop a Panic Attack
By understanding what underlies panic you may be able to stop a panic attack. While there are a few things that can help panic, the main one is your breathing as if you are in a state of panic you’re probably hyperventilating. The hyperventilating itself – quick, short breaths – is what gives rise to panic. Hyperventilating causes an imbalance in your oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in your blood, which then creates dizziness, pain in your chest, shakes and blurred vision. You may feel like you’re gasping for air as your body demands some oxygen. Put simply: If you do a breathing exercise you can maintain your oxygen levels and prevent panic.

You may still experience anxiety, but you will alleviate the panic. Doing a breathing exercise has the added benefit of reducing anxiety, as calm breathing sends a message to the brain saying “I’m ok”, thus slowing the release of adrenaline. There are lots of different breathing exercises out there, so test out what works for you. A good one is the 4-7-8 breathing particularly effective: Breathe in for 4 seconds. Hold your breath for 7 seconds. Exhale slowly for 8 seconds. Repeat until you feel calmer. Name what you’re feeling When you’re experiencing an anxious episode, you may not realize what’s going on until you’re really in the thick of it. Recognizing anxiety for what it is may help you calm down quicker.