Self Help for Panic Attacks

Jerry Kennard Health Pro
  • What are the self-help strategies for panic attacks and are they effective?  We know that if the problem is isolated, that is, it isn't accompanied by depression for example self help can be beneficial.


    Some of the most effective self help techniques may not come from self medicating. In fact individual or group support comes to the top of the list in terms of effectiveness. You can however look at your own lifestyle to see what you can change. For example, drugs and alcohol are known to cause problems so you should stop using them.


    One of the biggest issues facing people prone to panic is avoidance. Panic is frequently accompanied by agoraphobia because the person fears finding themselves in situations they are unable to escape from.  Begin by identifying a few clearly defined targets such as crossing the road, buying an item in the local shop, etc. It needs to be something you can repeat and practice quite easily, rather than something that can only occur once a day. If however you find it too difficult it means you've set the bar too high. Don't be concerned about the apparent simplicity of the task. Just because walking to the corner and returning seems as if it should be easy, remember it only seems that way. If your reality is that it is uncomfortable and stressful then that's your current level.

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    Self-help is not an either-or option. It doesn't mean you have to shoulder the responsibility for your progress alone. Sometimes it can be useful to involve a trusted friend or relative, even if it's just to talk with them about your progress. An important issue here is the way people make progress. Everyone is different and even every day can be different. It is not unusual to find that you can cope quite well with certain tasks one day and maybe not the next. Don't be disheartened. It can feel like a huge and disappointing knock-back when this occurs. Some people feel depressed for days afterwards because they feel there's no point in trying. You must learn to expect this can happen. It's part of the package and so the trick, like falling off a bike, is to get back on. You may need to scale back your targets for a little while but you should make progress.


    The sensation of panic can feel truly dreadful yet it cannot kill or disable you and neither is it likely to be permanent. Self-help is great if you are the sort of person who can dedicate time and personal resources to ensure you do it regularly. The down side is the ease to which it is possible to step back, to take a day off, to find an excuse not to bother. If you find yourself coming up with reasons why you're unable to practice then your self help program may not be for you. It doesn't mean you've failed as a person, it simply means the approach isn't working and you'd probably be better with professional support.


Published On: September 19, 2011