Manage Panic Attacks in Borderline Personality Disorder

December 15, 2016 Laura Lewis

People with borderline personality disorder (BPD) can learn to manage panic attacks by using the five senses. If we can train ourselves to consciously and positively stimulate the five senses during emotional distress, we with borderline might manage panic attacks with more success (Mental Illness Can Overstimulate Your Brain).

Ways to Manage Panic Attacks Using Your Five Senses in Borderline

Manage a Panic Attack Using a Soothing Fragrance

When someone with BPD is having a panic attack, it might help to light a scented candle, burn incense or essential oils, take a bath or shower with a fragrant soap, put on a favorite perfume or cologne, or even imagine smelling these fragrances. I like all of the above scents, as well as imagining that I am at a campfire and smell the wood burning. Know ahead of time what your favorite smells are so you can be prepared.

Manage a Panic Attack by Finding a Visual Focus

During a panic attack, the eyes sometimes dart around quickly, scanning the area for danger. Borderlines might feel out of control and unsafe. It can help to focus on something or someone that seems pleasant and safe. This could be a color, a design, a picture, a scenic view, or anything in the imagination. Focus on this visual point and breathe slowly and rhythmically (Meditation Reduces Anxiety).

Manage a Panic Attack by Listening to Specific Sounds

During a panic attack, listening to the sounds around a person can help to calm him or her down. Sometimes, though, an escape from current noise might be necessary. I am a borderline who has panic attacks frequently. When I am away from home I always have my backpack. It carries paper, markers, medicine, a book, a puzzle book, my iPad, scented lotions, two small rocks for fidgeting, my phone, and earbuds to listen to music that I have stored on my phone. I try my best to never be away from music, as listening to it distracts and calms me like nothing else can (Tune in to Music to Tone Down Anxiety).

Manage a Panic Attack by Self-Soothing with Flavor (But Not Comfort Food)

I am not encouraging people with BPD to eat comfort food every time they feel anxious. I am talking about chewing gum for distraction and for a pleasant taste. I am talking about having a small piece of hard candy. For me, personally, I am talking about nurturing myself with a low-calorie fruit and vegetable smoothie. It may be strange, but it works for this borderline (Nutrition Therapy for Anxiety Disorders).

Manage Panic Attacks with Touch and Being Touched

Learn to manage panic attacks common in borderline personality disorder by using the five senses. Here are tips to help you calm down quicker. Take a look. The sense of touch calms me more than anything else. I live alone with my dog and cat. When I have a panic attack at home, one of them usually comes to me and asks for affection. Loving on my animals keeps me in the present moment where I am usually quite safe. When I am away from home I sometimes massage my legs during a panic attack, or I might ask a loved one to rub my shoulders. If massage is not possible, I usually have a small object to hold in my hand. I also have meditation beads that I wear around my neck.

The Five Senses Used Together Can Manage a Panic Attack for Borderlines

Many borderlines have the symptom of panic attacks. Being prepared with various calming tools can make the attacks less frightening. Think of all of the healthy things that nurture and calm you. I encourage you to have them ready the next time panic calls.

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APA Reference
Lewis, L. (2016, December 15). Manage Panic Attacks in Borderline Personality Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, March 5 from

Author: Laura Lewis

August, 9 2017 at 8:04 pm

Amazing. Thank you!

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