How To Cope With A Panic Attack, Whether You're On A Plane Or The Tube

Fighting it will only make it worse.

02/09/2016 16:23

Panic attacks have a nasty habit of creeping up on you at the most inconvenient times, like when you’re stuck on a plane or are about to board a busy train.

Unfortunately there isn’t a cure for panic attacks, as the exact cause of them is still unknown.

But in the video above, Barry McDonagh, author of the book DARE, which is about overcoming anxiety and panic attacks, says there’s three techniques you can use to ease symptoms, wherever you are. 

First, he recommends thinking back to your previous panic attacks when you feel symptoms such as nausea, sweating and trembling coming on. 

 “As bad as they were, you survived them all,” he says.

Barry McDonagh

According to McDonagh, the second step in coping with a panic attack is to forget about staying calm.

“Tell yourself you are excited by this anxious feeling,” he says.

“Fear and excitement are similar states, so flip your fear into excitement.”

McDonagh says that “running towards panic” and almost encouraging it actually “pops the bubble of fear”, whereas trying to fight panic only makes it worse.

Finally, the author recommends “shaking out” a panic attack by wiggling your arms and legs to “flush the stress hormones out”.

His tips may sound unconventional at first, but they’re not that dissimilar to the advice offered for the NHS.

If you think you’re experiencing a panic attack, the NHS says the following tactics may help:

Stay Where You Are - remain in one location and pull over if driving.

Focus - remind yourself that panic attacks are not life-threatening, then try to focus on something everyday, like passing time on a watch.

Breath Slowly - try breathing slowly and deeply while counting to three on each breath in and out.

Challenge Your Fear - try to identify what you fear, then remind yourself that what you fear isn’t real and that it will pass in a few minutes.

Use Creative Visualisation - try to remember positive images.

Like McDonagh, the NHS advises that trying to fight a panic attack can actually make it worse.

“Trying to resist the attack and finding you’re unable to can increase your sense of anxiety and panic,” it says.

“Instead, during a panic attack, reassure yourself by accepting that although it may seem embarrassing, and your symptoms may be difficult to deal with, the attack isn’t life-threatening. Focus on the fact that the attack will eventually end and try your best to let it pass.” 

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