Mental health is a key part of every individual’s life. Whether it is stress, depression, or anxiety, detecting and treating it at an early stage is very important. A panic attack is defined as “a sudden, overwhelming feeling of acute and disabling anxiety”. Anxiety is a disorder in which one suffers from acute distress, as a result of overthinking or over-worrying about a problem. Several individuals who suffer from anxiety, also face panic attacks.
A panic attack is characterized by difficulty in breathing, numbing of limbs, increased heart rate, cold palms, and feet, feeling nauseous and maybe even sweating. If you or someone you know suffers from this, it is important to know how to control it.
Read this list to look at a few ways in which panic attacks can be reduced.
Take deep, long breaths. With each breath, push out a little bit of panic. Inhale to a count of six and exhale to the same count, moving the breath from your chest to your diaphragm. Do this until you feel calm again. Most panic attacks cause rapid and shallow breathing which fuels the attack, causing the symptoms to linger. By controlling your breathing, you can return your heart rate to normal, lower your blood pressure, slow down the sweating, and re-establish a feeling of being in control. Try to clear your head with every breath you take. Taking deep breaths from the abdomen slows down the nervous system, thereby releasing a number of hormones such as acetylcholine, prolactin, vasopressin, and oxytocin.
Accept What You’re Feeling and Take Control
Take control of yourself and the situation. Know that you have gone through this before and you will get through it even if it seems far from the truth. Using breathing strategies can help put you in control. Although it may take time, practice will help to control and reduce panic attacks. It is important to know that, sometimes, even when you feel you are in danger from a panic attack, you actually aren’t. It is the feeling of being in danger even when you aren’t.
Hands and feet get colder when we are stressed. This is because blood flows to the areas of tension in the body such as the shoulders and hips and away from the feet and palms. When hands are warmed, the stress response gets reversed and in turn triggers a parasympathetic relaxation. Studies have also shown that warming hands lowers blood pressure and this in turn leads to slowing down the nervous system. Hands can be warmed up by sitting in front of fire, curling under the covers or even simply by holding something hot like a cup.
Eat Dark Chocolate
If you feel like you’re panicking too much to concentrate, the easiest thing to do is eat some dark chocolate. If you’re a person who often goes through panic attacks or you know someone who does, make sure to keep a lot of dark chocolate at hand. Make sure to have chocolate, that has at least 85 percent cocoa or higher. The reason for this is that, the magnesium present in such dark chocolate acts as a calming agent. Dark chocolate also contains large amounts of tryptophan, an amino acid that works as a precursor to serotonin, and theobromine, another mood-elevating compound.
Don’t Run Away
When you have a panic attack, it is possible that your first reflex will be that you want to run away. Whether it’s from an event, situation, person, or place. However, a good idea is not to run away; rather, stay at one place and take control of the situation. For example, if you have a panic attack in a grocery store, the solution would be to stay in the store and take control of the symptoms of the attack. This will tell your brain that there is no real danger present there. If you try to run away from the place, your brain will begin to associate that place with danger and you may start panicking every time you visit a grocery store.
As has been discussed, panic attacks are generally caused because of thinking anxiously. Distracting your attention from what is happening, can prevent overthinking about the predicament you are in. By controlling overthinking, it becomes easier to prevent voluntary panic attacks. There are a number of ways in which you can distract yourself. For example, you can call a friend, try counting until you calm down, play a game, watch your favourite show or even read a book. Another way to distract yourself that is quite effective is, taking a photo. This will show you how there’s no actual danger as opposed to the perceived danger in our minds. The better you are at distracting yourself, the faster panic attacks end.
Keep Your Stress in Check
Keeping your body’s stress low at all possible time helps in preventing involuntary panic attacks. This will also ensure that you have more control over your body’s reactions when stress is minimized. Constantly elevated levels of stress can result in, body becoming erratic and involuntary at more instances than normal. This in turn will have an effect on the level of control that you have over your physical, psychological, and emotional capacities.
Form a Support Group
Panic attacks are mostly caused by anxiety disorders. One of the best ways to cope with anxiety is to form a solid support group. It could be made of friends, family, or a combination of both. Having a person or a group of people you can depend on, in times of stress can help to alleviate anxiety. Even if you don’t feel like talking to them, simply the presence of someone else being there is often satisfying and helpful.
Consult a Doctor
Meeting a doctor or a psychologist would be helpful in fighting the causes of panic attacks. Panic attacks are quite common and are often linked to other underlying disorders. It is important to meet a doctor and rule out any medical conditions that could be causing panic attacks.
Take Prescription Medicine
One of the most effective ways to stop a panic attack is by taking anti-anxiety medicines prescribed by medical practitioners. Common drugs that are used to treat panic attacks include alprazolam, lorazepam, and diazepam. These agents are often prescribed in low doses to take regularly until the panic attacks become manageable. Anxiety medication usually helps to control panic attacks within half an hour and are a quick way to calm oneself. But, all these medications should be taken only after your doctor’s recommendation.
This list hopefully gave you a number of ways in which you can cope with panic attacks. Panic attacks are sudden and often have no reason for occurring. However, with timely intervention and professional help, anxiety and panic disorders can be controlled.