Panic Attacks

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heart problem or chest pain, female model

Everything You Need to Know About About Panic Attacks


Panic attacks are a very unpleasant and scary thing to experience. Anyone who has suffered a panic attack often dread situations that can bring on an attack. Often the fear of a panic attack alone is enough to bring on a panic attack in itself.

What Is a Panic Attack?

A panic attack is when somebody experiences a severe attack of anxiety, often caused by extreme fear, nervousness or anxiousness. Anxiety attacks are normally very intense and can include many of the following symptoms:

  • Increased or pounding heart rate
  • Tight chest
  • Difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath
  • Feeling of clamminess or increase in sweating
  • Nausea or feelings of sickness
  • Lightheadedness or feeling like you’re going to faint
  • A sense of dread, fear or doom
  • A feeling of being ‘out of the body’

What Causes a Panic Attack?

Scientists aren’t entirely sure, though it is thought a panic attack is caused by the brain going into the ‘fight or flight’ mode. As scary as panic attacks are they are usually harmless and don’t usually cause a person any physical damage.

Many people have expressed concerns that they often feel like they’re going mad or the physical symptoms may make them feel like they’re having a heart attack, however, this is often not the case and panic attacks rarely cause any long-term physical damage.

None the less, panic attacks are scary and difficult to deal with; if you’ve suffered a panic attack once then you’re much more likely to suffer from one again in the future.

What Should I Do if I Have a Panic Attack?

The first port of call when you feel a panic attack coming on is to take deep breaths and try to calm down. We know this is easier said than done but if you can manage to focus on your breathing, taking nice, deep, steady breaths in and out, this should decrease the symptoms of your panic attack.

It may also be useful to remove yourself from stressful or tense situations. Does getting a packed elevator cause you extreme panic? Take the stairs or wait for the next elevator. This may not always be possible, in which case, we’d recommend focusing on your breathing and keeping a diary of what causes or brings on your panic attacks, so you can avoid high-risk situations in the future.

Should I See a Doctor About Panic Attacks?

We’d always recommend chatting with your G.P. and making them aware if you think you have suffered a panic attack.

If you feel you are really suffering from repeat attacks and it’s getting worse and worse then your doctor may be able to offer some medication to help calm your nerves or offer talking therapies such as C.B.T. to try and help with your panic attacks.

Most people will suffer some degree of a panic attack at least once in their life. For some people, controlled breathing and focusing the mind is enough to overcome a panic attack, if you’re really struggling to get your panic attacks under control a trip to your doctor and some medical support may be in need.

Any Other Tips For Dealing With Panic Attacks?

The last thing we’d recommend is telling friends and family about your panic attacks.

If you know you’re going to be in a situation that causes you high levels of anxiety, take a friend or family member with you, let people know who may be around you that you suffer from panic attacks.

Some people like to be left alone to compose themselves while having a panic attack, while others like the help, support and encouragement from others, to help them through their attacks.

The best course of action is letting those around you know that you suffer from panic attacks and how they can best assist you if you feel an attack coming on. This also helps people who suffer from attacks feel less embarrassed and in itself may prevent the onset of an attack.

If you’re asthmatic always remember to carry an inhaler with you as the onset of a panic attack can make even the mildest asthmatic start to feel wheezy!

HAVE WE MISSED SOMETHING?

Do you suffer from anxiety attacks? Let us know how you cope or if you think we’ve missed something from this article, in the comments section below. Remember our support forums are also available to chat to others about anxiety and how to deal with it in your daily life.

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