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Stopping a panic attack can be difficult, it is easier if you can catch them while they are ramping up. Often people will notice anxiety building in their body, like breaths becoming shallower "I can't breathe" and pulse quickening, among other somatic changes. Teaching yourself to watch for these signs that anxiety is becoming overwhelming can help stop a panic attack in its tracks, and help bring your body back to baseline. First, try to regulate your breaths. Take a breath in your nose, hold it, and release slowly through pursed lips. Follow the 5-7-9 method: breathe in for 5, hold for 7, breathe out for 9. Repeat this at least 3 times. Next, find your pulse. It will probably be beating fast, and just notice this. Do not try to slow it down. Continue to breath using the 5-7-9 pattern, and you will find that your pulse naturally will slow down. The longer you are able to use the breath-and-pulse-check, the easier you will find it to use when you are feeling anxiety building.  Revisit your maintain mantras, which helpful self-talk might work while you are breathing and pulse-checking? "I can do this." "I am able to handle this." "Now is not forever."

Mollie Wirtz, MS, LMHC


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