Panic Attacks: Getting to the root of panic using OARS

by Marteka Swaby August 24, 2016

Anticipating the worst? 

If you often have trouble concentrating and are anticipating the worst, together with physical symptoms such as sweating, stomach upsets, dizziness, and shortness of breath perhaps you are experiencing anxiety. The source of the anxiety is not always known, but it leaves you in a state of panic about everyday things.


Panic Attacks are an exaggeration of the body's normal response to fear, stress or excitement. I previously wrote about the signs and symptoms of panic attacks and how to deal with panic attacks in under 5 minutes but today I want to talk to you about getting to the root of panic.


Panic attacks can often be a symptom of anxiety an unpleasant inner state, a feeling of fear, worry and unease that we all seek to avoid. In the UK it is estimated that 1 in 6 adults have experienced some form of anxiety related problem in the last week and more than 1 in 10 adults have experienced a disabling anxiety disorder in their life, so you are not alone.


When patients who come to my clinic they are usually experiencing excessive fear or worry and want some quick tips to banish their anxiety. I think it comes as a shock when I want to consider some of the common anxieties they have experienced, relating to the past and present, and I think it becomes even more of a disappointment when I recommend that dealing with these anxieties will take more than 1 session to get to the root of the fear!


In reality there is no quick fix ultimately to get rid of panic for good you must understand and get to the root of your anxiety. Ignoring panic will not make it go away, but learning techniques to cope definitely will help to change things.


4 OARS helping you get to the roots of panic


The quickest and easiest way of dealing with panic attacks is to practice breathing techniques. This can be used immediately before, during and after a panic attack and it is a technique that works instantly how to deal with panic attacks in under 5 minutes.


However, if you want to get to the root of panic whether you are a parent who has a child suffering with anxiety or you are looking to talk yourself out of panic. These great techniques can work with anyone struggling with panic attacks to begin to understand the root of their fear.


  1. Open questioning- gathers broad descriptive information, facilitating a discussion that goes from general to specific conversations. It requires more of a response than a simple yes or no and often starts with words like “how” or “what” or “tell me about”. Open questions are really useful to help you explore anxiety, especially with a child who may struggle to describe how they feel. You can even prepare some questions to ask yourself to later challenge the reality of your fear.


  1. Affirmations- Positive self-talk promotes self efficacy and allows you to think about your past negative experiences as strengths. But, it must be done sincerely, it requires you to acknowledge your difficulties, not pushing them aside or burying them. Instead, acknowledge the difficulties you are experiencing this will help you to validate your experiences and feelings. Write your past successes down, this will remind you of your past successes and help to prevent discouragement when struggling.

Unfortunately the next 2 OARS require another person!


  1. Reflective Listening- Repeat, rephrase and paraphrase to reflect back their deepest feelings, it shows an interest in what the person has to say and a desire to truly understand how that person sees things. It begins with a way of thinking, even if you don’t agree LISTEN without interupting! 


  1. Summarise- it helps people to feel understood and reinforces what they have said and shows you are listening carefully. It also gives an opportunity for people struggling with panic to explore conflicting feelings around their panic attacks or anxiety and gives you an opportunity to offer a different perspective on what they maybe feeling or experiencing. You are in a privileged position to LISTEN and give someone else a different perspective.


Getting to the root of anxiety or panic is not easy and it may take time to get to the root. Take your first 3 steps towards positive thinking. Download my FREE e-book today

Marteka Swaby
Marteka Swaby