If you’ve ever been involved in any close relationship with a malignant narcissist, you probably experienced narcissistic abuse. And, if you’re like most survivors of narcissistic abuse, you may have experienced a variety of post-traumatic-stress-related issues, including but not limited to panic attacks.
A panic attack can feel terrifying. People who suffer panic attacks often report that they feel as if they’re going to die.
While highly unpleasant, panic attacks are generally harmless – though they can become quite debilitating if you allow it. Here’s a little bit of tough love for you: a panic attack is something you created. So, you also have the power to lessen and eliminate the attack. You feel me?
9 Ways to Stop Panic Attacks Fast
If panic attacks are controlling your life, you can regain that control. Stop a panic attack quickly and effectively with these techniques:
1. Remind yourself that you’re going to be okay. Your body chemistry is slightly off-kilter when you experience a panic attack. Panicking will only intensify the attack. The sooner you can relax, the more quickly the attack will pass.
2. Focus on deep breathing. Breathing is the only part of human physiology over which we have complete control. Anytime you’re awake, you can choose to breathe faster, slower, deeper, shallower, or hold your breath. Control what you can control. Slow, deep breathing will slow your heart rate, and you’ll begin to feel better.
3. Get a massage. This might not always be practical, but get someone to rub your neck and shoulders. Most importantly, massage your scalp. You can even do this yourself. Massaging your scalp will move a greater volume of blood through your brain and will help to relax the muscles of your head and neck. The effects of a massage can last for days. Try to get a massage regularly. Even a family member can perform the service if the cost of a professional massage is too high.
4. Use your imagination. Imagine something pleasant and relaxing. It might be hard to think of something positive in the moment, so have a few ideas before a panic attack strikes.
5. Get moving. Movement will help to eliminate the chemicals that are creating a feeling of panic. If you’re in a place that makes jazzercise impractical, roll your head, wrists, and ankles. You could also do a few rounds on the company stairwell. Everyone else is using the elevator anyway.
6. Warm your hands. Have you ever noticed that your hands get cold when you’re stressed? Warming your hands can help reverse the biochemical storm happening in your body during a panic attack. Run warm water over your hands or hold a cup of warm coffee in your hands.
7. Listen to music that relaxes you. Few things can change your mood and biochemistry faster than the right music. Create a song list of at least 10 songs that you find comforting and relaxing. Begin listening to your music as soon as a panic attack begins. Take slow, deep breaths.
- Dark chocolate contains high levels of magnesium and is more fun than swallowing a pill.
- An Epsom salt bath will also cause your body to absorb high levels of magnesium.
9. Be proactive. If you suffer a panic attack, you were already stressed about something. Calming yourself before the panic attack is much more practical than waiting until you’re having a crisis. Take control before you lose control. Panic attacks are frightening and uncomfortable. The symptoms can include the following.
- Pounding heart
- Shaking arms and legs
- Difficulty breathing.
Listen, if you choose to, you can control your panic attacks and return to your normal physiology. Obviously, you’ll want to try to prevent panic attacks from occurring in the first place. If a panic attack does strike, try these strategies to help subdue it.
Learn about the A.W.A.R.E. technique for stopping panic attacks in their tracks.
Angela Atkinson is a certified trauma counselor and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery, and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic personality disorder and narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships since 2006, she has a popular narcissistic abuse recovery YouTube channel. Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed narcissistic abuse recovery coaching and has certifications in trauma counseling, life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation, and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy.
She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse here at QueenBeeing.com and at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online.