As a sufferer of panic disorder, I know only too well the feelings of anxiety and fear brought on when hit by an attack. The heart pounds, you get dizzy and feel sick. When it is really bad, you can feel like you are going to lose your sanity as a result of being overwhelmed by fear or even die. I have spent a long time tying to make my attacks a thing of the past and along the way have found various techniques useful.
Taking up an activity that promotes relaxation is a useful way to help control panic attacks. I took up yoga and found that by practicing the exercises I learnt there, my body would become relaxed and an overall feeling of calmness would ward off the on set of an attack.
Similarly, I found that meditating as soon as an attack looked like it was coming helped prevent it by relaxing my body and calming my mind. One type of meditation I found particularly useful can be described as going to a 'happy place'.
You sit in a comfortable chair with a straight back. Then you close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, slowly inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. You then imagine yourself in beautiful surroundings, for example in a garden on a summer's day. You picture your surroundings in as much detail as possible and continue for as long as you feel comfortable.
If yoga or meditation doesn't appeal, there are simple breathing techniques you can try. One, 'abdominal breathing', is to sit with your back straight and close your eyes. You then place your hand on your stomach and begin breathing slowly and deeply in through your nose. As you inhale, focus on the hand resting on your stomach and feel it rise as if your stomach is filling with air. Then slowly exhale through your mouth and feel your stomach go down as the air leaves your body. Repeat this process for as long as you feel comfortable doing so or feel calm enough to stop.
I have found these techniques to be very helpful in treating an oncoming attack however I still found I had to live with the initial onset of panic attacks as they treat the symptoms rather than act as a cure. After looking into it further, I found that it was often fear of an attack that brought the actual attack on in the first place.
I found a solution that deals directly with the cause and taught me to lose my fear of panic attacks, eliminating the problem for good.