Categorized | Stress

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How to Keep From Passing Out While Having a Panic Attack

Passing out is a huge danger during panic attacks. While your heart races, your breathing gets shallow and short. Within even just a minute or two you can pass out. If you are alone at the time that could mean taking a nasty fall and even hurting yourself.

It’s important to remember to keep your breathing slow and steady. To breath deep.

But how do you do that when you’re in the middle of a panic attack and not thinking clearly?

The answer is actually to practice proper breathing when you are calm and clear. Use breathing techniques that teach you how to breathe from your diaphragm.

The Basic Breathing Technique

First off, you need to know what your diaphragm is and what it does for you. Your diaphragm is a muscle located at the top of your stomach. If you take your hand and feel along the bottom of your ribs, where your rib cage curves upward, and breathe deeply, you should feel it engage and push you stomach outward.

When you breathe, your diaphragm contracts and pulls down on your lungs, creating a vacuum and pulling air in. Your lungs don’t actually do much breathing on their own.

When you hyperventilate during a panic attack, you are trying to breathe using only your lungs. That’s why you feel like you can only get small gulps of air at a time.

Try an experiment: make a fist and push against the top or your stomach. Now try and take a few breaths. Feel familiar? That’s what happens you only try to use your lungs. If you engage your diaphragm, you’ll be able to pull in lung-fulls of air.

How to Practice

To practice using your diaphragm when you’re not going through an attack, place you hand flat over you chest and practice breathing deeply. Notice how it feels and make adjustments.

When you are breathing properly, your chest should move up and down, NOT in and out. You should feel your upper stomach pushing out with each inhale and contracting inward with each exhale.

This can be hard to do by yourself at first, so you might need to find a partner to help. Just have them place one hand on your upper chest and one hand on your upper back to keep your chest steady.

When you breathe, focus on pulling air deep into your belly. Pretend for a while that you don’t even have lungs at all and just imagine all the air you take in filling up your stomach and ballooning it outward.

Things to Remember

If you’re not used to breathing this way, it may take practice to get it right. That’s okay. Just keep at it. The diaphragm is a muscle and sometimes it needs to be trained like any other muscle. The more you engage it, the easier it become.

The point here is to get used to engaging your diaphragm when you’re not in the middle of an attack so that it becomes easier to do when you’re not thinking clearly.

If you’re really having trouble with this exercise, try kneeling down on your hands and knees and try breathing deeply. That will help you get around moving your chest and help you tap into breathing from your gut.

And as always, if you’re feeling lightheaded or dizzy while you’re practicing, STOP!

I hope this helps anyone who experiences black outs during panic attacks. Conquering the fear of blacking out is one of the best ways to stop panic all together. Once you know that you can handle an attack when it happens, you’re much less afraid of them and you’ll notice that you start to have fewer attacks altogether.

Just remember to practice!

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