Quick solutions for panic attacks?

This may sound silly....but it's helped me on numerous occasions. I literally start naming things to myself from my surroundings. Everything. Even if happens when I'm driving. In a store? I look at a person and start this dialogue with myself. In short, descriptive words.
There's a lady
She has dark hair
She got it cut yesterday
She is wearing boots
She ordered them online
They came in two days
The boots are brown
She has a blue purse
Inside the purse is lipstick
Inside the purse is a wallet

And so on
I know it sounds silly but if I do it in slow short sentences to myself....it pulls my brain away from the panic.

Sometimes if it happens in a therapy session, my T has had me name things in the room. Or he has me spell words. It helps me
yep. I can name all fifty states in alphabetical order, all thirty teams in the 3 divisions of the american and national baseball leagues, lots of stuff that has no excuse for taking up room in my memory except that if i try to do it to stop a panic attack, by the time i am up to north dakota I will wonder if i got new Hampshire AND new Mexico and now my count is off and i have to start over or risk getting to Wyoming with just49 fingers. And now I have moved all of the 23 different tracks in my brain that were all headed for a panic attack into thinking all together: 1 Alabama, 2 Alaska, and by the time i am done i am hopefully reigned in and ok.
A useful tool.
During the phase of my recovery where my panic attacks peaked, I would go the full round. Light headed, dizzy, ready to pass out and…yep! Losing control of my bladder.
A technique I learned is called 3-4-5-2 breathing. Breath in with a 3 count, hold for a 4 count and breath out with a 5 count. Hold for 2 and start again. It works.
Last edited by a moderator:
Hmm... As I read the title I was thinking if anyone can actually answer that question, they can become a millionaire by marketing their "quick" solution.

I think people can find their own solutions that can help "quickly" in their panic situations, but finding what works for you takes so much practise that getting there is not a "quick" solution in that sense.

And those solutions that are fast-acting (like benzodiazapines and other mood altering substances) come with so many drawbacks that they often stop being a quick solution and become part of the overall problem.
And those solutions that are fast-acting (like benzodiazapines and other mood altering substances) come with so many drawbacks that they often stop being a quick solution and become part of the overall problem.
....only if they are abused. It should always be about the LEAST you can use not the most. As big a problem as the use of these things are the doctors that don't inform their patients about the difference between use and abuse.

Most of the things that head off panic attacks are things that do two things:
1. Stop thinking about the panic attack.
2. Focus on your current reality. Counting, breathing, grounding exercises, physical activity, the list goes on and on. Even better on one - having a bunch of different methods available is even better.

Best case scenario - any time you get near a situation where a panic attack is likely you begin using those things to keep the panic attack from even beginning.
A technique I learned is called 3-4-5-2 breathing. Breath in with a 3 count, hold for a 4 count and breath out with a 5 count. Hold for 2 and start again. It works
Another is 4/4 breathing. Ditto, except inhale 4, hold 4, exhale 4, hold 4.

Since most people can hold their breath for at least 30 seconds? And swimmers for 2minutes plus? Only holding for 4 seconds is a fast track in reregulating panic… even if it’s near hyperventilating in normal breathing.
There’s so many different types of breathing exercises, so you can really experiment and find what works for you.

One of the fun ones for ptsd’ers is the yogic nostril breathing, where you rest your hand on your nose, and use your forefinger and thumb to alternately block of one nostril then the other. You breathe in through one nostril, then breathe out the other. That one can be helpful if focusing on your body tends to cause a panic attack (which it does for a lot of folks with a trauma history). Focusing instead on getting the coordination right can help prevent that body-focus that comes with breathing. Similar to Japanese Moon Breathing, which is all in and out through the left nostril, with the right nostril blocked (because the Japanese associate the left side of the brain with serenity and relaxation).

Alternatively, if being in your body doesn’t cause any issues, there’s a whole heap of different versions of body-focused breathing (also yogic), like imagining yourself inhaling through your mouth, and exhaling through your belly button, then inhaling through your belly button, and exhaling through your mouth. Yoga nidra sessions are fantastic for this.

If counting sends your mind spinning, you use square breathing, which is imaging you are moving around a square as you breathe: up as you inhale, across as you exhale, down as you inhale, back to the start as you exhale.

There’s apps you can get which are breathing buddies - focusing on a circle in the centre of the screen which grows larger as you inhale, and shrinks as you exhale.

If controlled breathing hasn’t worked in the past? Start trying different alternatives, because there’s a breathing exercise for everyone! The key? Is just remembering to practice while you’re calm:)
the best way to learn the breathing techniques for me was during bio feedback training. I gamed it a few times, learned to send the machine off the charts by thinking about intense pain, both my own and the stuff i had to see others suffer, and to get it all calmed down and in the zone again using breathing and by concentrating on random body parts ( back of my right calf, i feel the denim jeans, i feel the weight of my leg resting on it, the support of the recliner, it is a comfortable temperature, and relaxed etc.)
the Square breathing mentioned made me remember how quickly i was able to wrangle the machine when I gamed it.
Not real life, the panic attack is just that, a panic. Get to a safe place, and then get the tools out, dont do the stuff in the middle of the meeting or while driving! But they work, and bio feedback is one cool way to learn.
Things are getting really bad for me. All of this had been bearable for a while, and then I suddenly began having panic attacks in public. This is only unusual because I have been able to ‘hold them off’ for lack of a better term until I was alone or at least at home. Now I’m scared to go anywhere in public, for fear of another attack, and that fear usually leading to one. I can’t find anything as far as something to help, a quick solution or just a way to calm down. It’s so bad I’ve been avoiding going in public, and I have a part time job that I have prescheduled, so it’s… not good. My family members are extremely frustrated by the sudden uptick in uncontrollable attacks, and I’m even more so. I don’t know if there‘s some trigger that I need to start avoiding, or if it’s something else entirely. I just know that this is killing me, and I need just some tips as far as just keeping a lid on everything when I start having an attack in public. If anyone knows any coping mechanisms they have, I’m open to anything.
My trauma therapist taught me that our bodies run hot when we’re upset so he recommends running my hands under cold water and it actually does help! A cool shower could be helpful as well.
Try looking at an object that is very close to you for a couple of seconds, then look at something that is very far in front of you for a couple of seconds. Keep going back and forth between looking at something close and something far for at least a minute, 2 seconds apart. This is called "vergence" exercise from Brainspotting. It really helps. You can do a long version of this exercise with a pen in front of your face, search for it on Youtube (
Do 5-senses exercise: name 5 things around you that are, say, blue or yellow. 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste (have a sip of water if you don't have any food around).
Do a humming exercise. Close your ears with your fingers. Take a deep breath in, hum it out as long as you can, three times.
Splash cold water on your face.
Practice progressive muscle relaxation.