Understanding panic attacks

Panic attacks can be scary and sometimes paralysing for sufferers. As most panic attacks are very sudden, they are overwhelming, giving the sufferer a feeling of lack of sufficient air, and taking away the ability to think clearly. Panic attacks can hit anyone – they may come with generalized anxiety or with depression. However, they can also occur out of the blue in people without previous experience. For many people, panic attacks can also be a regular part of their life, and in the worst case, the triggers or depth of the panic attack are not clear and predictable.

Panic attacks are also very similar to anxiety attacks that arise without any apparent danger. Although the experience may seem threatening, it is, in fact, a very natural response which is in no way life-threatening. It is essential to learn what causes a panic attack and how to deal with and stop panic attacks, not only if you suffer from it yourself, but also if you have someone in your circle who is hit by panic attacks.

What Causes Panic Attacks?

The first step towards the solution is always to understand the problem and the causes of a panic attack. It is generally believedthat when a panic attack occurs, an excessive amount of adrenaline is releasedinto the bloodstream. This condition is triggeredby anxiety that is irrational and whose causes are not always clear. Anxiety itself is a natural, instinctive defense system or what some would term as a ‘Fight or Flight’ response. Although, it is designed to protect us from danger and give us the extra strength needed to respond, nowadays our true predator is sometimes our own life and its complexity.

The symptoms of a panic attack include palpitations, negative thoughts, the feeling of suffocation, difficulty breathing, racing pulse, abdominal pains, dizziness, excess sweating and more.

Find Your Triggers

In some cases, panic attacks occur due to specific triggers, such as closed, confined spaces, crowds, aloneness or even by individual concerns, such as money worries. If you know your trigger, you can try to avoid it first. In the long term, however, it may be worth visiting a psychotherapist or a counseling center as they can provide useful therapies that ensure that the trigger does not have such power over you. In extreme cases of anxiety, they may also recommend medications such as escitalopram.

How To Stop A Panic Attack

Preventative measures that can be takeninclude getting enough sleep and avoiding caffeine. This can stimulate the nervous system and have a positive effect on the onset of the panic attack.

So, what can you do to stop a panic attack? And how can you help a person who is suffering from a panic attack? Here are some easy ways to tackle these situations.

  1. Breathe

Breathing is vital to control and mitigate a panic attack. We must not forget that the body reacts already before the conscious perception of danger. Start by regulating your breathing to control the acceleration of the heart. Breathe in for five seconds, stop the air for seven seconds, exhale for eight seconds. Repeat this exercise for about five minutes.

  1. Release Yourself From Negative Thoughts

During a panic attack, negative thoughts spread. It’s like opening the door to let in lightning and thunder. Learn to stop this situation. Control your mind by imagining reassuring images of ocean waves, nature or cute animals. It may also help to listen to your favorite songs on your phone to distract you. If tight spaces such as subways trigger your panic attacks, make sure to keep a magazine in hand for further distraction.

  1. Use Calming Phrases

Having a series of calming phrases is also a straightforward and useful remedy. Continuously remind yourself that ‘It’s just a panic attack and nothing bad will happen.’

If you have any top tips for dealing with a panic attacks then I would love to hear them in the comments below. 

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