How to Stop an Anxiety Attack In 2 Steps

A fear Attack can be a scary experience. You may feel like you can’t breathe, your heart is racing, your head is spinning, and you can’t control your thoughts. Anxiety attacks are often accompanied or triggered by feelings of doom or anxiety, and it can feel like the anxiety is never ending.

Even if it seems like you can’t stop the spiral, you can: With the right tactics, you can learn to control and prevent anxiety attacks. However, it is much more complex than the often given advice “don’t panic” and “just breathe”. cope with fearsays licensed psychotherapist Haley Neidich.

Note that you don’t need to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or other mental illness to have an anxiety attack: anyone can experience an anxiety attack even without a psychiatric diagnosis, and anyone can benefit from knowing how to control an anxiety attack controlled enters.

Also note that there is a difference between an anxiety attack and a panic attack. A panic attack is clearly defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders, but an anxiety attack is not.

One of the biggest differences between the two is that panic attacks often occur without warning and can be triggered by an external fear, such as an anxiety attack. B. a phobia that you come into contact with, but panic attacks can occur without a trigger. Anxiety attacks, on the other hand, often build up over time and are often triggered by an inner fear or sense of doom.

The lack of diagnostic criteria does not invalidate anxiety attacks; it just means that the symptoms are more open to interpretation and that there is a way to uncover anxiety-provoking triggers.

Here’s how to tell if you’re having an anxiety attack and how to stop or control it.

signs of an anxiety attack

Signs of an anxiety attack Loss of control Falling

When an anxiety attack approaches or builds up, you may feel a lack of control, accompanied by symptoms such as a racing heartbeat and unstoppable thoughts.

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If you’ve never had an anxiety attack, you might not even know what to look out for. Even if you experience anxiety attacks on a regular basis, the signs that lead to an anxiety attack can change and leave you confused if one feels different than the last.

“While many people can easily identify their triggers and early warning signs, it can take time and support,” explains Neidich. “Some people experience anxiety attacks that seem to come out of nowhere, and they may need professional support from a psychotherapist to help them identify the more subtle and underlying issues that are contributing.”

That said, and while everyone experiences anxiety attacks differently, Neidich shows that a few common signs emerge in most people.

“The most common early symptom is anxious thinking, particularly thinking rooted in ‘what ifs’ that typically lead people down a dark mental path,” says Neidich. “This can happen slowly or quickly, depending on the external environment and a person’s susceptibility factors.”

Racing thoughts and physiological symptoms like rapid heartbeat, trouble breathing, and gastrointestinal upset are telltale signs of an anxiety attack or severe anxiety in general, says Neidich.

“Anxiety attacks can be a terrifying experience, as people often report feeling like they’re going to die or have a heart attack during the episode,” she says. “Because of this, many people who have experienced one anxiety attack develop a fear of another, which only reinforces their underlying anxiety.”

That’s all the more reason that recognizing the early symptoms of an anxiety attack is key to preventing and controlling it, Neidich reiterates.

2 steps to stop an anxiety attack

Anxiety attack calming techniques

In order to control anxiety attacks, you need to understand your triggers and what techniques you can use to calm them down.

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It can be difficult to completely stop an anxiety attack once it has started, but there are some steps you can take to control anxiety attacks, reduce the severity of symptoms, and decrease their frequency. Neidich shares five tips for controlling and managing anxiety attacks.

1. Distraction

“Distraction is the #1 tool for managing an anxiety attack once it’s started,” says Neidich. She adds that paying too much attention to your body — like trying to breathe deeply, as is often recommended — can make your symptoms worse.

Instead, Neidich says, “Once you realize an anxiety attack has started, it’s time to distract yourself while you wait for it to pass. Put on a fun movie, grab a coloring book, go for a walk, listen to a podcast, put on your anxiety-calming playlist, or call a friend and tell them you need to talk about something else.”

As you discover tools that work for you, keep a running list in your phone’s notepad. So if you’re not sure what to do, you can just scroll through this list. As for finding distractions, Neidich says pretty much anything will work as long as it doesn’t make your anxiety worse.

“Social media makes a lot of people’s anxiety worse, but I just had someone mention to me that watching dance videos is going on tick tock helped them to get over an anxiety attack,” says Neidich as an example. “We are all individuals and need to take the time to find out what improves our symptoms.”


Listening to a playlist of calming or funny songs can help reduce anxiety.

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2. Aftercare

Aftercare is how you calm down once the anxiety attack subsides, Neidich says. This may involve tactics similar to distractions, such as B. go for a walk, keep a journal or call someone. If you do choose to call someone, Neidich says, make sure it’s someone who “knows not to ask you why you had the anxiety attack” (more on that in the section below on building a support system) .

“Once the anxiety attack peaks,” Neidich says, “using grounding techniques to help you feel more present in your body is a big part of the aftercare.”

Try these grounding techniques Neidich recommends:

  • Hug a tree or touch other plants
  • Take a slow walk
  • Drink herbal tea
  • Do a slow, relaxing yoga flow
  • Write in a diary
  • listen to music
  • Practice breathing techniques (only after anxiety subsides)

Neidich also offers a visualization exercise to help: As your fear begins to dissipate, imagine yourself as a tree with roots growing into the ground as “a powerful way to begin grounding.”

Grounding Techniques for Anxiety

Use grounding visualizations, such as imagining yourself as a tree or another plant, to center yourself during an anxiety attack.

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What about deep breathing?

The prevailing feeling that meditation and deep breathing, which can or should be used to stop an anxiety attack, can actually be harmful, says Neidich. Instead, these are effective tools for prevention.

“Meditation and deep breathing are usually bad skills once an anxiety attack has started and can actually make things a lot worse,” she says. “Instead, people who experience anxiety should meditate twice a day to reduce their overall anxiety so they can more effectively identify worsening anxiety symptoms.”

Neidich notes that it’s common for people to say, “I know I should meditate,” and then ignore meditation as a possible tool — but “daily meditation has the potential effect of stopping anxiety attacks entirely, and the recommendation should be taken very seriously.” become,” she says.

It’s true that meditation is known to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and emotional pain, and to build resilience, or your ability to recover from stressful or painful situations.

Quiet Apple Watch

Meditating is a great preventative tactic for anxiety. If you’re having trouble meditating on your own, try an app like Calm on the Apple Watch.

app store

Building a support system

A support network is important for managing anxiety, Neidich says, but those supports need to be effective in helping you manage anxiety — meaning they should be making you feel better, not worse.

Rely on people who can provide the kind of support you need personally, like physical touch or an ear to hear how you’re feeling. Avoid anyone who asks why you had an anxiety attack. After an anxiety attack or on the verge of an anxiety attack, it is important not to talk about the cause, says Neidich and refers to distraction techniques.

It’s important to be clear about what you need from loved ones regarding anxiety, says Neidich — it’s a “big part of a comprehensive anxiety management plan.”

“Be sure to talk upfront about what language will and won’t help,” Neidich says, pointing out that helping you with your anxiety attack isn’t someone else’s responsibility, it’s your responsibility, your needs to share.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions about a medical condition or health goals.

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