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How to Stop an Anxiety Attack?

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If you're plagued by excessive worry and fears, you probably want to know how to stop an anxiety attack. If you have chronic anxiety that impairs your quality of life and keeps you from enjoying favorite activities, you should seek help from a medical professional. Your doctor can prescribe fast-acting medications that will stop anxiety attacks.

These medicines belong to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. While they're relatively safe and very effective at stopping anxiety attacks, they have a high potential for abuse and if used for long periods, they can become habit forming. Because of this, your doctor will likely only prescribe them at the beginning of the anxiety treatment plan he creates to help you learn how to stop an anxiety attack yourself.

Learn How to Control Anxiety Attacks

Once your physician has evaluated your condition, your next step is learning how to control anxiety attacks. Your doctor will probably refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist who can provide psychotherapeutic techniques to help you with your anxiety. He may prescribe antidepressants that aren't habit forming and that are safe for long-term use. Depending on the severity and type of anxiety attacks you have, you may need to see your therapist once a week for a month to several months. Your therapist will decide which type of therapy to provide for you. Several types, effective in teaching patients to stop anxiety attacks, are available:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – The ultimate goal of CBT involves helping you regain control of your thoughts surrounding anxiety-producing situations and your reactions to those situations. A number of studies indicate that CBT can work effectively alone, without medication, for many patients.

Systematic Desensitization – This technique seeks to break the link you have formed with anxiety-inducing circumstances and the anxiety reaction you've cultivated as a response to these circumstances. You'll confront the situations and circumstances that provoke your anxiety in small doses until you no longer respond in an overly anxious way when they arise.

Modeling Treatment – With this treatment, you will watch an actor approach a situation or circumstance, known to produce extreme feelings of anxiety in you. You may view this live, or on videotape, but the live model works better. You then view this scenario, acted out several times, by the actor and try to model the behavior of the actor in the same or similar environment. When properly acted out and subsequently modeled, you should experience progressively less anxiety when confronted with these formerly uncomfortable situations.

Relaxation Training – The term relaxation training refers to several techniques that invoke a relaxed state for the patient. Relaxed breathing techniques retrain you to stop the hyperventilation common in anxiety attacks. By replacing this shallow, uncontrolled breathing pattern with deep relaxing breathing patterns, you may have success in stopping an anxiety attack before it gets out of control. Another method, biofeedback, measures body temperature, breathing and heart rate, and muscle tension during anxious states. You then use these baseline measures to learn how to control anxiety attacks by controlling these physical responses to anxiety and using relaxing thought patterns.

Warning About Using Herbal Formulas to Stop Anxiety Attacks

Although you may read about using herbal remedies to stop anxiety attacks, some of these can cause serious harm to your body, such as liver damage, and no definitive studies with adequate controls and participation exist that support the use of herbal remedies to control attacks. Further, many herbal supplements can interact with medications your doctor prescribes and result in serious drug interactions or allergies.

Take Back Your Life – You Can Learn How to Stop an Anxiety Attack

While you certainly do possess the ability to learn how to stop an anxiety attack, it's critical to seek the advice and support of a medical or mental health professional. Speak frankly with your physician or therapist about your excessive worrying and fears. Tell him or her about your desire to learn to control these episodes yourself, without medication. He may ask you to start out taking medication just to stabilize your emotions and give you a respite before the hard work begins. Your physician wants to see you succeed and live free of excessive anxiety and medications. He will support you and guide you along the way, letting you know when to taper off any medications you're on, during the course of your therapy.

Additional Anxiety Attack Information

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APA Reference
Gluck, S. (2012, January 11). How to Stop an Anxiety Attack?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 21 from https://www.healthyplace.com/anxiety-panic/anxiety-information/how-to-stop-an-anxiety-attack

Last Updated: May 15, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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