Having a Panic Attack? Here's How to Deal

If you've ever experienced a panic attack, you know they can be scary and overwhelming. In this week's episode of How 2 Deal, clinical psychologist - and TikTok influencer! - Dr. Janine Kreft breaks down how to identify and cope with panic attacks. Plus, Dr. Kreft shares a few simple ways you can help regulate an attack. Did you know something as simple as taking a cold shower can help?

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Video Transcript

JANINE KREFT: Oh, my God. It's happening again. I'm gonna have a panic attack. I can't breathe.

If you've ever experienced a panic attack before, you know how scary and overwhelming they can be. I'm Dr. Janine Kreft, clinical psychologist. And today, we're going to talk about how to identify and cope with panic attacks. This is PopSugar's "How 2 Deal."


A panic attack is a sudden period of intense fear with several physical symptoms. Despite there being no real danger present, the experience can be super frightening. You can feel like you're losing control, having a heart attack, or even dying. Most people will experience one to two panic attacks in their lifetime, though some deal with panic attacks for years.


- Question?

JANINE KREFT: Panic attacks can be unexpected, with no obvious trigger present. Anxiety attacks are less severe than a full-blown panic attack, and have a more recognizable trigger, like getting into a conflict with a friend or feeling overwhelmed with school. Anxiety attacks also don't have the experience of being detached from the body.

- Question?

JANINE KREFT: Panic attacks can be triggered by a lotta different things. For example, if you struggle with low self-esteem, social situations can be a trigger. Or if you have PTSD, any sights, smells, or sounds that represent a past traumatic event could be the trigger, as well.

- Question?

JANINE KREFT: Who did these questions? They're fabulous. Everyone is different. So it can be helpful to get clear on your panic blueprint.

Let's talk about some ways that panic can manifest itself. One way is dissociation. Dissociation is where you feel completely detached from your body or disconnected from this reality. You might look cool, calm, and collected on the outside, but feel like you're dying on the inside.

Another way a panic attack might manifest itself is in a strong urge to flee. You might be in a completely safe situation, but because it feels so dangerous, it will feel completely intolerable. Lastly, you might experience hyperventilating or uncontrollable crying. This is where you might find it really difficult to regulate your emotions. If you feel any of these symptoms, it's a good time to regulate.

I know what it feels like. I've been there. Here are a few quick ways to regulate fast during a panic or anxiety attack.

First tip, think cold. You could grab some ice cubes and hold them in your hands, run them over your wrists, or even you could take an ice pack and put it on the back of your neck. You could take a cold shower or submerge your face in cold water. Yeah, you're crazy. This creates a dive reflex in the body to command the energy back to the present moment.

The next tip is breath. You want to slow down your breathing. Longer exhalations than inhalations can be really helpful. You could also try some box breathing, which is in for four, hold for four, out for four, and hold for four.

After you've grounded yourself with cold and breath work, I really love to tap it out. This involves tapping on acupressure points on the face and body in order to reregulate your energy. All these tools are super helpful for reregulating your physiology and getting your attention back to the present moment.

Panic attacks are scary, especially when it feels like the world is closing in on you. However, healing is possible. Be kind and compassionate to yourself in the process.

If you'd like extra support identifying your panic blueprint, check out my Pocket Couch Time for panic attacks. It's a mini course that's super affordable that can assist you in your healing and reregulating in the moment. Don't forget to subscribe to PopSugar for more videos like this. Thanks for watching.