Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder that can cause sudden and intense feelings of fear and panic. Panic attacks are recurrent and frequently unexpected. The lifetime prevalence of panic disorder in the United States is about 2-3%. Most people with panic disorder experience other anxiety disorders, such as social anxiety and agoraphobia.
Panic disorder can be debilitating, but there are natural ways to manage it. Here are 6 effective techniques to help manage panic disorder and live a happier, healthier life.
Use cognitive reframing to change your thinking patterns.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a treatment to reduce panic attacks by changing how you think, feel, and behave. CBT includes various techniques, including cognitive reframing. Cognitive reframing attempts to identify the negative thinking patterns that trigger panic attacks and to help you develop more helpful thinking processes.
For example, you may engage in catastrophizing and say to yourself, “I feel anxious, and I cannot handle this,” or “This is the worst feeling ever, and I have no control.” When you believe these thoughts, they can become consuming and trigger the brain to activate the nervous system into panic. With cognitive reframing, you learn to notice and reframe these thoughts, such as “Even though I feel anxiousness, I’ll be okay and I am safe” or “These are just feelings…I am going to focus on deep breathing and doing something that brings me joy…this will pass.”
Practice deep breathing exercises.
Deep breathing exercises are a simple and effective way to manage panic disorder symptoms. This type of breathing calms the nervous system. When you feel a panic attack coming on, take slow, deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Focus on your breath and try to slow it down. As a rule, breath in 5 seconds and exhale 5 seconds for a 10-second breath cycle. Use diaphragmatic breathing to center your breathing in the lower abdomen rather than shoulder breathing.
This type of breathing creates a calm but alert state and can help calm your body and reduce anxiety. You can also try different breathing techniques, such as alternate nostril or box breathing, to find what works best for you. Practice these exercises regularly, even when you’re not experiencing symptoms, to help prevent panic attacks from occurring.
Engage in regular exercise.
Numerous research studies have shown that regular exercise is another natural way to manage panic disorder. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood boosters that can help reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, jogging, or cycling, most days of the week. You can also try yoga or other mind-body exercises, which can help calm your mind and reduce feelings of anxiety. Talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have any underlying health conditions.
Try relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga.
Relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga can be effective in managing panic disorder. These techniques help to calm the mind and reduce feelings of anxiety. Meditation involves focusing on your breath or a specific object, while yoga combines physical postures with breathing exercises and meditation. Both techniques can be practiced at home or in a class setting. Many apps and online resources are also available to guide you through meditation and yoga practices.
Avoid or limit caffeine, stimulants, and alcohol.
Caffeine, other stimulants, and alcohol can trigger panic attacks and worsen symptoms. Caffeine is a stimulant that can increase heart rate and cause feelings of anxiety, while alcohol is a depressant that can disrupt sleep and increase feelings of depression. Avoiding or limiting these substances if you have panic disorder is best. Instead, try drinking herbal tea, non-caffeinated drinks, or water to stay hydrated and calm.
Get sufficient and quality sleep.
Getting enough sleep is crucial for managing panic disorder. Lack of sleep can increase anxiety and make panic attacks more likely. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night and establish a consistent sleep schedule. Review your nightly sleep routine and incorporate helpful sleep hygiene tips to improve your sleep. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed, and create a relaxing bedtime routine to help you wind down and prepare for sleep.
How Dr. Mazzei Can Help You
If you are suffering from panic disorder, or if you would like to talk to someone more about how Dr. Mazzei can help you, follow these simple steps:
- Text today at (480) 448-6755 or email us for a consultation
- Or, you can book directly online with Dr. Mazzei
- Begin your journey towards a fulfilling and healthier life
Dr. Mazzei offers in-person panic disorder treatment in Chandler, AZ, and online panic disorder therapy for Arizona, Illinois, Tennessee, and PSYPACT residents.