6 best ways preventing panic attacks
Your heart is racing, you are having difficulty breathing, your sweat glands are working overtime – are you dying or going crazy? No, it’s a panic attack. Panic attacks can be one of the scariest occurrences a person can experience. Descriptions of a panic attack can vary from person to person often being recounted as an overwhelming feeling of anxiety and fear with heart pounding, difficulty breathing and thoughts that this may be the end. If not treated or dealt with, panic attacks can worsen leading to a panic disorder possibly causing a person to withdraw from normal activities.
How to tell if you are having a panic attack
Panic attacks can happen anytime and anywhere. Usually they occur abruptly reaching their peak within 10 minutes with most ending in within 20 to 30 minutes. Here are signs and symptoms of what someone may experience when having a panic attack:
· Shortness of breath or hyperventilating
· Racing heart
· Chest pain or discomfort
· Trembling or shaking
· Choking feeling
· Feeling unreal or detached from your surroundings
· Nausea or upset stomach
· Dizziness, feeling faint or light-headed
· Numbness or tingling sensation
· Hot or cold flashes
· Fear of dying, losing control, or going crazy
Why people get panic attacks
Most of the time, panic attacks can occur for no good reason and are not well understood. They may happen out of the blue and can even occur when asleep or relaxed. It is known panic attacks tend to run in families and can also be connected with major life transitions such as getting married, having a baby, death of a loved one, divorce, or job loss.
There are two types of panic attacks – situational and unexpected. A situational panic attack is triggered by a certain happening that is concerning to a person. A good example of this is public speaking. Public speaking is one of the main fears many people have and it would not be uncommon for someone to experience a panic attack if they have to speak to a large audience.
Unexpected panic attacks seem like they happen spontaneously, however they usually occur when someone is having perceptions of dying, going crazy, or losing control. Just having an unexpected panic attack can lead to the person being fearful of another which can lead to anxiety of another panic attack happening.
Medical conditions can sometimes be the trigger for panic attacks. If you experience panic attacks frequently, see your physician to rule out the following conditions:
· Stimulant use (amphetamines, cocaine, caffeine)
· Medication withdrawal
The one thing to keep in mind is panic attacks are not dangerous. They may feel dangerous because of our brain sending out an emergency message to the rest of the body that it is in danger.
6 self-help tips to stop a panic attack
Once a person understands what panic attacks are and what triggers them, they can begin to practice steps to stop and control a panic attack from happening to begin with. Here are ways to do this:
When the feeling of a panic attack rears its head, relax with slow, deep breathing. Close your eyes and slowly and completely breathe in and out, telling yourself it’s only a panic attack and nothing life threatening. The controlled breathing will relax your body reversing the release of adrenaline and is a coping skill to calm yourself down when feeling anxious.
2. Understand panic attacks
The more you know what is and what causes a panic attack, the more you realize the feelings and sensations you are having are normal and signs you are not going crazy.
3. Talk to yourself
Once a panic attack is underway, a lot of negative thinking will occur such as thoughts of dying or being extremely fearful of a situation. Put the brakes on those thoughts by replacing negative thinking with positive thinking or statements. Say out loud, “It’s just a panic attack. I’m going to relax and it will be over with.”
4. Avoid triggers of panic attacks
People susceptible to having panic attack will benefit from avoiding smoking, caffeine use, diet pills and other stimulants such as non-drowsy cold medications.
5. Cognitive behavioral therapy
If panic attacks are becoming more frequent and severe, it may be time to seek out professional help. Cognitive behavioral therapy, a type of psychotherapy effective for the treatment of panic attacks and anxiety disorders, can be a life-changing boost providing more rapid results.
6. Medications for panic attacks
This should not be the first line of defense but in severe cases, medications can be very effective. Medications help control or reduce symptoms of panic disorders, especially when combined with other treatments such as therapy and lifestyle changes addressing the underlying cause of panic attacks to begin with.