How It Feels After A Panic Attack
A more likely possibility is that you had a single panic attack that leaves you feeling generally anxious, tired, and frayed. While panic attacks can be scary, they’re not dangerous. But the fear they may cause you can be more unsettling than the attack itself. That’s especially true if you’ve never had one before. When it’s your first episode, you may think you’re having a stroke or a heart attack.
How do you tell if it’s a panic attack or high anxiety? It’s tricky. It helps to talk to your doctor, but a closer look at your symptoms often can give you some clues.
A true panic attack tends to have clear, intense, physical symptoms — a pounding heart, shortness of breath, and so on.
Anxiety can give you some of these, but they tend to be milder. Instead, you’ll have more mental symptoms like a racing mind, lots of worries you can’t stop, and a hard time focusing. You might also feel restless and have a hard time sleeping.
Treatment For Panic Attacks And Panic Disorder
The most effective form of professional treatment for tackling panic attacks, panic disorder, and agoraphobia is therapy. Even a short course of treatment can help.
Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on the thinking patterns and behaviors that are sustaining or triggering your panic attacks and helps you look at your fears in a more realistic light. For example, if you had a panic attack while driving, what is the worst thing that would really happen? While you might have to pull over to the side of the road, you are not likely to crash your car or have a heart attack. Once you learn that nothing truly disastrous is going to happen, the experience of panic becomes less terrifying.
Panic attacks: what they are and what to do about them Free course to help you manage panic.
Panic Disorder Explanatory video from Khan Academy and American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
Hotlines and support
NAMI Helpline Trained volunteers can provide information, referrals, and support for those suffering from anxiety disorders in the U.S. Call 1-800-950-6264.
Find a Therapist Search for anxiety disorder treatment providers in the U.S.
Support Groups List of support groups in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and South Africa.
Anxiety UK Information, support, and a dedicated helpline for UK sufferers and their families. Call: 03444 775 774.
Anxiety Canada Provides links to services in different Canadian provinces.
Whats The Longest A Panic Attack Can Last
Most panic attacks last only a few minutes though they often feel like a lifetime when youre experiencing one. Symptoms typically peak within 10 minutes and then begin to fade away.
Its possible to have a panic attack thats especially long or short. Some attacks can peak in a few seconds, with the entire attack lasting just minutes, while others may last longer.
Most research has described single panic attacks lasting up to 30 minutes. Some reports by individuals have described attacks lasting hours or even days.
According to some experts, if symptoms dont peak within 10 minutes, its not considered a panic attack . Instead, its considered high anxiety. While this is still incredibly uncomfortable and unpleasant, it may not be diagnosed as a panic attack.
Its also possible to experience multiple panic attacks that occur in waves for an hour or longer.
- fear of losing control or of dying
- nausea and other stomach discomfort
In a panic attack, symptoms come on suddenly, peak, and then gradually fade away.
Physical symptoms are often the first to subside, though depending on your anxiety levels, you may continue to hyperventilate and experience chest and abdominal discomfort. After the comedown of the attack, you may also feel tired or tension in your muscles.
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Relief For Chest Pain Caused By A Panic Attack
During a panic attack, the following strategies can help you to manage the symptoms:
- Focus on controlling your breathing breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose for three seconds, hold for two seconds and breathe out for three seconds. You may want to close your eyes to help you focus. By concentrating on your body and your breathing, you can break the panic cycle, calm your hyperventilation and reduce your chest pain
- Remind yourself that this moment will pass panic attacks can be incredibly frightening to experience. There are occasions where some may experience anxiety chest pain all day, but when you are having a panic attack, try to repeat a positive phrase such as: I know this is a panic attack and I know it will pass. This can serve as a reminder that the moment will disappear just as it appeared. Recognising the transience of a panic attack can help to lessen the worry caused by the symptoms, helping the panic attack to subside
- Refocus when you feel a panic attack start to pass, begin to focus on your surroundings rather than on the experience. Think carefully about what you can see, hear, taste, smell and touch. You may also want to hone in on a particular object, and think carefully about its shape, colour and size
There are also preventative measures you can take to avoid panic attacks, which include the following:
Is It A Panic Attack Or Covid
Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, OSW-CProgram Manager Emeritus, Oncology, Social Work
MAY 19, 2020
A panic attack is defined as a sudden rush of intense feelings that can include a racing or pounding heart, trembling, sweating, shallow breathing, chest pain, a fear of choking, nausea, dizziness, and a fear of losing it or going crazy or even of imminent death. The symptoms usually peak in about ten minutes and then begin to subside. However, a panic attack can be so intense and so frightening that people may go to the ER or call their doctor. Sometimes they are triggered by a known situation like a big exam or giving a public presentation. Sometimes they happen without warning or without an obvious stimulus.
Studies have indicated that one in four Americans will have at least one panic attack sometime during their life. A panic attack is not dangerous in and of itself, but it certainly feels that way. It is worth mentioning that panic attack symptoms can also be similar to those of a heart attack. People who have a cardiac history, high blood pressure, or who are experiencing the often-described left-sided chest and arm pain, should immediately seek medical help. It is much better to end up a little embarrassed because you are fine than to ignore a possible heart attack!
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What Are The Symptoms Of A Panic Attack
While symptoms of panic attacks can vary, they often include: In a panic attack, symptoms come on suddenly, peak, and then gradually fade away. Physical symptoms are often the first to subside, though depending on your anxiety levels, you may continue to hyperventilate and experience chest and abdominal discomfort.
When To Seek Medical Attention
The first time one experiences a panic attack, one should seek medical attention promptly in order to check oneâs overall physical and mental health and discuss the possibility and prevention of future panic attacks.
It is not uncommon for an individual, who has experienced a panic attack, to feel embarrassment in telling their family or doctor. Many people are unaware of how common it is to experience a panic attack and/or that it could relate to panic disorder or another form of anxiety â conditions, which are highly treatable with appropriate psychotherapy and/or medication.
Even if one is not diagnosed with a mental health condition, oneâs doctor will be able to advise on management techniques in the event that a future panic attack occurs and will be able to perform check-ups to rule out other conditions or health concerns. For example, one may be screened to rule out the risk of a heart attack, particularly if one believed that one was experiencing a heart attack during the episode.
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Are Panic Attacks Bad For Your Heart
According to a study published in Psychology Medicine1, people who suffer from panic attacks and panic disorder may be at higher risk of heart attack and heart disease later in life. While the link between panic disorder and heart disease remains controversial, the study found that compared to individuals without panic disorder, sufferers were found to have up to a 36% higher risk of heart attack and up to 47% higher risk of heart disease. If you suffer from panic attacks, seek attention for any chest pain symptoms in order to rule out any issues with heart health.
When Should I Call The Doctor
Some panic attacks have signs that can be confused with a physical problem like a heart attack. If you have chest pain or trouble breathing or lose consciousness, seek emergency medical care.
You should call your healthcare provider if you have panic attacks and experience:
- Chronic anxiety that interferes with daily life.
- Difficulty concentrating.
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What Can I Do During A Panic Attack
When you feel a panic attack coming on, there are some quick strategies you can try.
If you have a friend with you, it can be helpful to tell them whats happening. They can reassure you it will pass and that the symptoms wont hurt you.
Panic Attacks Dont Last As Long As They Feel Like They Do
Panic attacks feel like an eternity to the sufferer, but the reality is that your body cant sustain them for very long. The brain goes into fight or flight mode when people experience panic attacks.
Panic attacks typically reach their peak within ten minutes and resolve within thirty minutes. They rarely last more than an hour. That thirty-minute period is so physically and emotionally overwhelming, however, that it feels like much longer and requires a significant recovery period after. Panic attacks are very draining and its difficult to jump right back into school, work, or family fun immediately following an attack.
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Is This Your First Panic Attack
If you suspect that you are experiencing a panic attack for the first time, it is always recommended to go to the emergency room. So if youre wondering, Should I go to the ER for a panic attack? the answer is yes.
The primary reason for this has a lot to do with theunknown. You have never had a panic attack before, which means youve likely never been treated for one. Because of this, it can be very difficult for you to accurately diagnose yourself without the help of a medical professional.
A medical professional can help get your relief while ruling out other serious health complications that might be mistaken for a panic attack.
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Panic Disorder And Panic Attack Causes
If you are prone to experiencing negative emotions and are sensitive to anxiety you may be at risk for the onset of panic attacks and panic disorder. Childhood experience of sexual or physical abuse, smoking, and interpersonal stressors in the months before the first panic are also risk factors.
Furthermore, it is believed that genetics play a role in susceptibility to panic disorder, although the exact genes, gene products, or functions that are implicated are not known. Individuals with a parent or parents diagnosed with anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder are also thought to be at a higher risk of developing panic disorder.
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What Are Some Coping Mechanisms In The Moment
First things first: Breathe. Youre probably hyperventilating, but stabilizing your breathing can quickly calm your bodys fight-or-flight response.
Try counting your breaths. One deep breath in, one deep breath out. Count up to 10 and then start again until your breathing is back to normal.
Other quick coping strategies include:
- recognizing that what youre experiencing is a panic attack
- finding an object to focus on
Learn How To Manage Your Anxious Thoughts
Anxiety doesn’t come out of the blue. When you have anxiety attacks, it’s often because your mind tends to spiral into negative thoughts – often without your control. Sometimes you can control this anxiety by keeping these thoughts at bay and learning to dismiss triggers that cause you anxiety.
For many, this is easier said than done. But there are many different strategies you can try that may be effective. These include:
A Question Checklist
When you feel anxious, have a checklist on hand of questions to ask yourself about that anxiety experience. The longer the checklist, the more you’ll find that your thoughts become more realistic. Questions that you can use include:
- Is there a reason to believe something is wrong?
- What evidence is there that something is wrong?
- Is there a chance I’m blowing this out of proportion?
Affirmations not for everyone, but those that do use them find them to be very beneficial. Affirmations are things that you say to yourself to make yourself feel better. These include:
- I’m okay. This is just anxiety and I will get passed this .
- I have a great life and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
- My anxiety won’t control me.
Getting Used to Physical Symptoms
The latter is known as “exposure therapy” and there are countless ways to create exercises that will habituate you to your panic attack triggers.
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Panic Attacks Do Not Always Have Further Health Implications
Experiencing a panic attack is inherently distressing for the individual involved, especially if they were previously unaware of being affected by any form of anxiety. The possibility of experiencing a future panic attack â particularly if one encounters scenarios similar to the circumstances of the initial attack â is a common concern, but feeling this way does not necessarily mean that one will experience future panic attacks.
Furthermore, it is possible to experience one or more panic attacks without being affected by a related condition, such as anxiety disorder or panic disorder. Many people, who do not normally have anxiety or depressive disorders, experience one or more panic attacks in relation to a specific stressor or over the course of a lifetime.
Panic Attack Help And Support
If youve been experiencing panic attacks or think you may have panic disorder, we encourage you to seek diagnosis and treatment from your doctor and a mental health professional. Although panic attacks can feel like a debilitating and embarrassing condition, it is important to remember that you arent alone and your mental health is nothing to be embarrassed about. There are a variety of resources available to you for advice and support, both online and in the form of support groups. For more information, ask your healthcare provider about what is available in your area and check out the links below:
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Ways To Prevent Panic Attacks
“You need to try to work out what particular stress you might be under that could make your symptoms worse,” says Professor Salkovskis. “It’s important not to restrict your movements and daily activities.”
- Doing breathing exercises every day will help to prevent panic attacks and relieve them when they are happening
- Regular exercise, especially aerobic exercise, will help you to manage stress levels, release tension, improve your mood and boost confidence
- Eat regular meals to stabilise your blood sugar levels
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and smoking these can make panic attacks worse. Panic support groups have useful advice about how you can effectively manage your attacks. Knowing that other people are experiencing the same feelings can be reassuring. Your GP can put you in touch with groups in your area
- Cognitive behavioural therapy can identify and change the negative thought patterns that are feeding your panic attacks
You Don’t Have To Be Afraid Of Anxiety And Panic
Have you ever ridden a boogie board or bodyboard in the ocean? A boogie board is very much like a surfboard, only smaller. You lie with your stomach on the board, paddle out from shore, catch a wave, and ride the wave back into the shore.
I’d like you to imagine the wave as being an anxiety or panic attack. Sometimes the wave will be a slight crest and sometimes it will be larger. Sometimes you’ll catch it pretty close to shore, and sometimes you’ll catch it further out, making the ride last longer. Now imagine yourself on that boogie board gently riding the waves. Feel the exhilaration and adrenaline rush that come with each rise and fall of the wave. You don’t know how high each wave will be until you’re on it, you’re not quite sure how long the ride will take, but what you do know is that if you allow the wave to carry you, it will always take you back to the shore, the solid ground.
This analogy is the strategy I developed for my patients to help them manage panic and anxiety attacks. I ask them to imagine themselves on that boogie board and to R.I.D.E. the wave of panic back into the shore where the panic will subside.
R.I.D.E. stands for:
I will discuss this in more detail below. First I’d like to talk about panic.
What is a panic or anxiety attack?
Symptoms of a panic attack may include:
Above, I talked about the strategy I developed to help you in dealing with panic attacks: R.I.D.E. the wave of panic.
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