How To Stop A Panic Attack
Trying to force yourself to stop a panic attack may make your symptoms worse. However, there are some ways to stop a panic attack when you feel it coming on.
Understanding how panic works and the stages of a panic attack can help you control your racing thoughts and calm yourself. When you understand whats happening with your body and what will happen next, you can talk yourself through the attack.
Learning how to control your breathing can help with hyperventilation and can be a focus for racing thoughts. A technique called box breathing involves inhaling for four counts, holding for four counts, exhaling for four count, and then holding for four counts. Repeat this for a few minutes and focus on the counts and the breath.
Exercising regularly and getting proper sleep are also ways to lower your susceptibility for panic attacks. Exercise helps regulate your emotions and reduce stress. Regular, quality sleep can make it easier to manage upsetting situations and negative emotional responses that accompany them.
Relaxation techniques, like gentle yoga or daily meditation, can also help center you. When you practice mindfulness and develop consistency with meditation, you may more easily be able to soothe your fears with the meditation techniques you practice when youre calmer.
Other triggers for panic attacks include certain life changes and major transitions like having a baby, losing a loved one, getting married or divorced, losing your job, or graduating college.
Why Do I Feel Like This When Im Not In Any Real Danger
Early humans needed the fast, powerful responses that fear causes, as they were often in situations of physical danger however, we no longer face the same threats in modern-day living.
Despite this, our minds and bodies still work in the same way as our early ancestors, and we have the same reactions to our modern worries about bills, travel and social situations. But we cant run away from or physically attack these problems!
The physical feelings of fear can be scary in themselves especially if you are experiencing them and you dont know why, or if they seem out of proportion to the situation. Instead of alerting you to a danger and preparing you to respond to it, your fear or anxiety can kick in for any perceived threat, which could be imaginary or minor.
Panic Attacks Their Symptoms And Treatment Options
Though the exact cause of panic attacks is not clear, there is both a genetic and a biochemical angle that is believed to cause the attacks. Panic attacks are seen to occur more often after an illness, as a side effect of already existent phobias or depression, after consumption of mind-altering drugs and substances of abuse, after a trauma, after consumption of some medications, etc. If panic disorder occurs after the age of 40, it is possible that the disorder is because of an underlying medical problem.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
Asking questions and providing information to your doctor or health care provider can improve your care. Talking with your doctor builds trust and leads to better results, quality, safety, and satisfaction. Visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website for tips at .
What To Do Just Before& during An Attack
The essential technique isn’t complicated or some hidden secret
As you begin to feel yourself moving into panic normalize your breathing.
If the fear and panic occurs suddenly and you are already in the middle of a panic attack move your attention to your breath and breathe normally.
In other words calmly at an even pace.
Not gasping, not hyperventilating, not super deep breaths or quick shallow breaths.
Normal, even breaths.
There are two reasons for this simple suggestion.
Breathing is simple, straightforward and natural.
Instead, ground yourself
What do you see?
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How Is Agoraphobia Diagnosed
If you think you have agoraphobia, and the anxiety is interfering with your daily life, you should talk to a primary care provider or psychiatrist. If you are afraid to visit a medical office in person, you may be able to schedule a telephone or video appointment.
The healthcare provider may ask you:
- Do you get stressed about leaving your house?
- Are there any places or situations you avoid because youre afraid? Why are you afraid?
- Do you rely on others to do your shopping and errands?
A healthcare provider can diagnose agoraphobia based on your symptoms, how often they happen and how severe they are. It is important to be open and honest with your healthcare providers. Your provider may diagnose agoraphobia if you meet specific standards developed by the American Psychiatric Association. To have a diagnosis of agoraphobia, a person must feel extreme fear or panic in at least two of the following situations:
- Using public transportation.
- Being in an open space.
- Being in an enclosed space, such as a movie theater, meeting room or small store.
- Standing in a line or being in a crowd.
- Being out of your home alone.
How To Get Over Fear Of Panic Attacks
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Tips For Helping Someone With An Anxiety Disorder:
- Make no assumptionsask the person what they need.
- Be predictabledon’t surprise the person.
- Let the person with the disorder set the pace for recovery.
- Find something positive in every small step towards recovery.
- Don’t help the person avoid their fears.
- Maintain your own life so you don’t resent the person with the disorder.
- Don’t panic when the person with the disorder panics, but realize it’s natural to be concerned with them.
- Be patient and accepting, but don’t settle for the affected person being permanently disabled.
- Say encouraging words such as: “You can do it no matter how you feel. I am proud of you. Tell me what you need now. Breathe slow and low. Stay in the present. It’s not the place that’s bothering you, it’s the thought. I know that what you are feeling is painful, but it’s not dangerous. You are courageous.”
- Avoid saying things like: “Don’t be anxious. Let’s see if you can do this. You can fight this. What should we do next? Don’t be ridculous. You have to stay. Don’t be a coward.” These phrases tend to blame the individual for the anxiety.
Accept That Its Happening
This is a hard one, but acceptance is very effective when it comes to dealing with a panic attack. We instinctively fight panic attacks because theyre awful and we dont want to experience them. Its like asking a man if hed like a kick in the balls? No thanks! However, this resistance lengthens the lifespan of the attack by further sending distress signals to the brain.
So, how do you accept an attack? Say to yourself, either out loud or internally: This is just a panic attack. It cant hurt me or make me go insane. It cant make me do anything stupid. The worst that will happen is that Ill feel very uncomfortable for a while and then itll go away. I can deal with this. Im safe.
Let it wash over you like a wave, and then slowly begin to belly breathe. Tensing and then relaxing your muscles is good too, as this will feel comforting.
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How Is Agoraphobia Treated
Agoraphobia treatment usually involves a combination of treatment methods: therapy, medication and lifestyle changes.
A therapist can help you work through your fears. Using cognitive behavioral therapy , a mental healthcare provider can help you recognize thoughts that cause you anxiety. Then youll learn ways to react more productively.
Using relaxation and desensitization techniques, your provider may have you imagine a scary situation and manage the feelings. Eventually, you will be able to take part in activities that produce anxiety, and you will know how to manage your emotions. Over time, therapy can train the brain to think differently.
Your healthcare provider also may suggest medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors . Those medications can treat depression and anxiety disorders.
You can manage agoraphobia with lifestyle changes:
- Avoid alcohol, drugs and caffeine .
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.
- Exercise regularly.
Risk Factors For Panic Attacks & Panic Disorder
It’s estimated that somewhere between 40%-50% of the population will experience at least one panic attack in their life.
Constant stress and the pressures of modern living, medical conditions, the excessive use/abuse of stimulants and other common factors can play a role in whether or not someone experiences a panic attack.
That being said, some of us struggle with panic attacks much more than just once or twice in our lives.
You may be someone who has panic attacks several times per month, several times per week, or even daily.
Panic disorder is a term used to classify those who frequently experience panic attacks.
When my anxiety was at its worst I would experience panic attacks nearly every day.
Often, these panic attacks would occur in some of the most mundane situations, such as going to the mall or getting a hair cut.
Some times, just leaving the house would work me into a panic.
So what are some factors that can increase the likelihood of someone developing a panic disorder?
- Genetics: family history of panic attacks or other mental health issues
- Trauma: childhood trauma, physical abuse, sexual abuse, PTSD
- Major Stress or Life Changes: new financial difficulties, death of a loved one, a major illness, new or excessive responsibilities such as the birth of a child
- Chemical Imbalance: excessive or deficient availability of key neurotransmitters in the brain has been linked to panic attacks
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Use Muscle Relaxation Techniques
Much like deep breathing, muscle relaxation techniques can help stop your panic attack in its tracks by controlling your bodys response as much as possible.
Consciously relax one muscle at a time, starting with something simple like the fingers in your hand, and move your way up through your body.
Muscle relaxation techniques will be most effective when youve practiced them beforehand.
When Might I Have Panic Attacks
Panic attacks happen at different times for everyone. Some people have one panic attack then don’t ever experience another, or you might find that you have them regularly, or several in a short space of time. You might notice that particular places, situations or activities seem to trigger panic attacks. For example, they might happen before a stressful appointment.
Most panic attacks last between 5 to 20 minutes. They can come on very quickly. Your symptoms will usually be at their worst within 10 minutes. You might also experience symptoms of a panic attack over a longer period of time. This could be because you’re having a second panic attack, or you’re experiencing other symptoms of anxiety.
“My panic attacks seem to come out of the blue now. But in fact, they seem to be triggered mainly at night when I want to go to sleep but cannot stop my mind racing, experiencing worry and panic about anything that may be on my mind.”
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Panic Attacks: How To Overcome Paralyzing Fear
Recently, more and more people suffer from panic attacks. The feeling of uncontrollable fear can come in a bus, in a movie theater, in a park, and in a restaurant. That is, in absolutely any place, wherever a person would be. The panic attack is a marked anxiety characterized by anxiety, a strong fear of death. It causes horror, and we can say that this is the strongest fear.
To determine the onset of a panic attack, you need to understand the principle of its action. This is a complete mobilization of the organism to a threat. In her process, begin to warm up and tremble large and small groups of muscles, become cold limbs, there is a feeling of “cotton feet”. In addition, the blood pressure rises and dyspnea begins, and shallow breathing. “All understanding of reality is fixed at one point and it seems that we are about to lose consciousness. In fact, nothing happens to a person during a panic attack, because the body at this moment is absolutely and completely ready for danger. He is imprisoned in order to survive “, – explains the doctor. There are also involuntary urination, defecation, and vomiting. This is also due to the fact that the body is ready to “escape”, which means that it needs to be eased the day before.
What to do with it?
For panic attacks, the responsible structures of the brain, absolutely anatomical, involve the same hormones and behavior the same. If we avoid panic attacks, then they become more frequent.
What Do I Do If Im Having A Panic Attack
With or without panic disorder, panic attacks are common. And theres a big misconception around dealing with them, Gruner explains.
The most common advice people hear when theyre experiencing a panic attack is to take deep breaths, think positively, and try to calm down, he says.
However, trying to control anxiety in these ways can backfire. Struggling to prevent a panic attack can have a paradoxical effect and actually cause a panic attack.
During a panic attack, a person should do the counterintuitive thing: let go of control and allow the panic attack to run its course.
It can also be useful to remind yourself that you cant die from a panic attack, and that its your bodys normal, natural reaction, which is not dangerous.
Gabe Gruner, LICSW, is a psychotherapist at the Psychiatry Outpatient Clinic at Brigham and Womens Hospital .
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What Are The Risk Factors For Agoraphobia
Risk factors for developing agoraphobia include:
- Having panic attacks or other phobias.
- Experiencing stressful life events, such as the death of a loved one, being attacked, or being abused.
- Having a nervous or anxious nature.
- Responding to panic attacks with excess fear and apprehension.
- Having a relative with agoraphobia.
Prevalence Of Panic Disorder
Panic disorder affects 2-3% of people every year in the United States and Europe, with varying rates depending on race and ethnicity. On average, Native American Indian populations experience panic disorder at higher rates than non-Latino white Americans. In contrast, African Americans, Latinos, Caribbean Blacks, and Asian Americans all experience the disorder at lower rates than non-Latino white Americans. In addition, it has been well established than females are twice as likely to be diagnosed with panic disorder than males . A number of factors have been identified as possibly influencing sex differences in rates of panic disorder . However, no one theory has been determined so the underlying reason for sex differences in rates of panic disorder remains unknown.
The typical course of panic disorder begins in adolescence and peaks in early to mid-twenties, with symptoms rarely present in children under the age of 14 or in older adults over the age of 64 . Caregivers can look for symptoms of panic attacks in adolescents, followed by notable changes in their behavior , to help potentially identify the onset of panic disorder. Panic disorder is most likely to develop between the ages of 20-24 years and although females are more likely to have panic disorder, there are no significant sex differences in how the disorder presents .
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How Panic Differs From Anxiety
Panic and anxiety are often used interchangeably, but they refer to different events. Instances of panic are short-lived and intense. They usually last less than 10 minutes because the body cant stay in such an aroused state for extended periods of time.
A panic attack activates our fight-or-flight response that helps prepare our body to protect us from real or perceived threats. However, panic attacks can occur with or without a threat. Anything from watching a scary movie to exercising to consuming excessive caffeine can trigger the physical changes that may lead to a panic attack.
On the other hand, anxiety is a more future-oriented emotion and usually results from thinking or imagining a negative occurrence in the future. Anxiety can be long-lasting, with a lower level of arousal in the body.
Gruner specializes in obsessive compulsive disorder and other anxiety disorders. The anxiety part of the disorder involves worrying about future panic attacks, he says. A person with panic disorder may think, When will my next panic attack occur? What will happen? Theyre anxious about the panic attack, even when theyre not having it.