What Do Panic Attacks Feel Like
During a panic attack, physical symptoms can build up very quickly. These can include:
- a pounding or racing heartbeat
- feeling faint, dizzy or light-headed
- feeling very hot or very cold
- sweating, trembling or shaking
- pain in your chest or abdomen
- struggling to breathe or feeling like you’re choking
- feeling like your legs are shaky or are turning to jelly
- feeling disconnected from your mind, body or surroundings, which are types of dissociation.
During a panic attack you might feel very afraid that you’re:
- losing control
- going to die.
Dont Run Away Youll Only Strengthen Your Fears
I used to avoid places and situations where Id had a panic attack for fear of having another, but I found that actually going to that intimidating concert or overwhelming shopping mall, or whatever the case may be, has helped me regain freedom over the fear. Dr. Misti Nicholson, a psychologist and the director of clinical services at Austin Anxiety and Behavioral Health Services, calls this using paradox.
She explains: Logic and intuition tell us to run away or fight when we are in danger; however, when we avoid panic or treat it like an enemy, we make it stronger. Instead, it is important to take a paradoxical and counter intuitive approach to panic. I often encourage my patients to do the opposite of what anxiety is expecting them to do. This often means moving toward what they are afraid of when anxiety is telling them to back away.
How To End An Anxiety Or Panic Attack
An anxiety attack can be terrifying, but it wont kill you. If you want to overcome it, take a deep breath and know it will end soon.
“Anxiety” is a general term that describes a variety of experiences, including nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worry, that are common in several mental health disorders. While most of us have anxiety at some time, this is completely different from an anxiety attack or anxiety disorder. Normal feelings of nervousness, worry, and fear often have a known trigger . But when;you’re having a full blown panic attack or;anxiety attack,;the symptoms chest pain, flushing skin, racing heart, and difficulty breathing can make you feel as though you’re going to faint, lose your mind, or die. The reality is, you wont. The key to surviving is to learn all you can about;anxiety;attacks and practice the skills you need to get through them.
According to the Mayo Clinic, signs of an anxiety attack include:
- Abdominal cramping
- Fear of loss of control or death
- Feeling of unreality or detachment
- Shortness of breath or tightness in your throat
- Trembling or shaking
The;Anxiety and Depression Association of America;offers practical strategies in how to deal with stress and anxiety attacks, including:
- Accept that you cannot control everything.
- Do your best.
- Maintain a positive attitude.
- Learn what triggers your anxiety.
Here’s how to stop an anxiety attack and recover.
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Dont Shame Or Minimize
Its pretty common to worry about having a panic attack, especially in front of strangers, or believe the attack might annoy or inconvenience friends or loved ones.
People struggling with anxiety or panic attacks might intellectually understand the response is illogical. But hearing that from someone else can increase their isolation, Bingham explains.
Avoid saying things like:
- Just relax. Theres nothing to be afraid of.
- Youre upset over that?
- Whats wrong with you?
You might not intend to make your friend feel ashamed, but denying the reality of their distress can certainly have that effect.
Get An Emotional Support Animal
Im not saying run to the nearest animal shelter and bring home a puppy because bringing a furry friend home can be a trigger in itself .
I can tell you from experience, though, that my cat Pancake has completely changed my life. Hes an older cat thats incredibly cuddly, intuitive, and loves being hugged and hes my registered ESA for a reason.
Any time Im having a mental health issue, youll find him perched on my chest, purring away until my breathing slows down.
So when I tell you to get a support animal, it should be something you put a lot of thought into. Consider how much responsibility you can take on, the personality of the critter, the space you have available, and contact a shelter to see if you can get some help finding your perfect match.
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Do I Have An Anxiety Disorder
Either panic attacks or anxiety attacks can rise to the level of disorders, depending on their frequency and severity. Say you have a panic attack when you ask a store clerk for another size. If you find yourself no longer shopping for clothes because youre afraid of another attack or avoiding the mall altogether, that may signal a panic disorder.
A doctor may diagnose someone with a panic disorder if the attacks lead to a month or more of worrying about another attack or maladaptive changes in behavior, says Spray.
There are a several different anxiety disorders but what they all have in common is that the anxiety gets in the way of your life to a significant degree, says Sawchuk.
Know The Signs Of A Panic Attack
“Often, when you don’t know the physiological signs of a panic attack you may feel more scared imagining you’re having a heart attack,” says Annie Wright, LMFT and the owner and clinical director of Evergreen Counseling. “Read up on the signs of a panic attack so you know what you’re dealing with.”
Dr. Rodriguez recommends scouring the Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s website, which covers all the symptoms:
- Palpitations, pounding heart or accelerated heart rate
- Derealization or depersonalization
- Fear of losing control or going crazy
- Fear of dying
Rodriguez adds that its critical to also get a physical exam to rule out other problems.
Prevalence Of Anxiety And Depression In Men
On average, one in 8 men will have depression and one in 5 men will experience anxiety;at some stage of their lives.
Men are less likely to experience anxiety and depression than women. They are also less likely to talk about it. This increases the risk of their anxiety or depression going unrecognised and untreated.
Untreated depression is a high risk factor for suicide. In Australia, there are about 3,000 suicides each year. Around 75% of people who take their lives are men, with an average of almost 7 men taking their lives every day.;
Its important to remember that anxiety and depression are conditions, not weaknesses, and effective treatments are available.
In The Middle Of A Panic Attack The Right People Doing The Right Things Can Make All The Difference But Here We Share Some Of The Common Phrases That Do More Harm Than Good
Panic attacks can be characterised by feelings of intense anxiety mixed with physical symptoms including shaking, breathlessness, sweating, dizziness, nausea, and a rapid heartbeat, amongst other things.
And theyre common, with 13.2% of the population estimated to have experienced a panic attack at some point in their life. But, despite this, there are also a lot of misconceptions about them perhaps in part thanks to the way they have been portrayed in films and TV shows , combined with mental health stigma and a lack of understanding.
Here, we go over some of the things you shouldnt say to someone having a panic attack, however well-meaning, and what you can do instead.
How To Calm Down After A Panic Attack
The moments that follow a panic attack can be the worst. You feel exhausted, defeated, and for lack of better words, like a #%$@ed up human being. So, remember this one simple rule be reflective, not reactive. John Tsilimparis,;director of the;Anxiety and Panic Disorder Center of Los Angeles;suggests writing down the negative thoughts you had during your panic attack, such as Im doing to die, Im going to throw up, and all the what ifs we can all relate to. Then, write down the rational alternative, such as youre not going to die, if youre sick people will be compassionate, etc. ;This redirects your thought process from thinking youre suffering from an attack to youre reflecting on your attack.
Understand The Symptoms Of A Panic Attack
Learning the symptoms of a panic attack can help you better understand what you’re going through and what steps to take to respond to your distress.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America , there are 13 types of panic attack symptoms, ranging from physical to emotional. Common physical symptoms include rapid heart rate, trembling, and shortness of breath, while emotional symptoms include loss of control and fear of dying.
The ADAA says that if you’re experiencing four or more of these 13 symptoms, it’s considered a panic attack, though limited-symptom panic attacks can also occur.
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Stamp On The Spot With Them
Sounds weird, but it works. March on the spot together, stamp your feet and release some of those stress hormones, suggests Anxiety UK-approved therapist Eve Menezes Cunningham. Also get them to try and name five things they can see around them, this will help them get out of their own head.;
These are known as grounding techniques, which can help to bring a person back to the present moment and slowly bring them out of a panic attack.;
What can I do if I cant stop a panic attack?
If you think that the person is at risk of harming themselves or others whilst they are experiencing the panic attack, it might be time to seek professional help by calling 111. Theyll listen to you talk through their symptoms, and will be able to let you know what to do.;
If theyve hyperventilated so much that theyre losing consciousness, you might need to call 999 straight away for an ambulance to take them to hospital.;
What if I feel theres no reason for them to panic?
You might wonder if simply telling the person to calm down will help. No matter how illogical you think theyre being, you should never say this to them. People have panic attacks because they feel threatened or afraid its their bodys fight or flight response kicking in and floods their brain with chemicals. Their brain truly believes theyre in danger, so you cant just talk them out of it.
Will they have another panic attack?
Learn These Four Simple Steps
If panic attacks have been a recurring problem, write the four basic steps on a little card, with a list of sample Coping Statements on the back. Mark the card with bright stripes to make it easy to find in your wallet, and keep it with you everywhere you go until you memorize the steps and know them thoroughly. Study these steps and learn them in advance. If you have a panic attack, get out your card immediately and follow it exactly. Once you learn these steps you won’t need the card.
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Social Anxiety Is My Old Friend
These tools should lessen the grip that panic has on you and help you return to a calmer state. But if you experience multiple panic attacks in a day, or find that you are constantly worried about having one, it’s worth meeting with a mental health professional who specializes in anxiety. You do not have to accept this level of anxiety in your life, and treatment is very effective.
How To Help Via Text Message
If youre out and about when you get a text from someone that says, I think Im having a panic attack, what do you do?
One of the best things you can do is offer supportive phrases that reinforce their ability to cope. Try a few of these supportive phrases:
- This is time-limited. It will pass.
- Youre doing a great job.
- Im confident that you can handle this.
- Youre going to get through this!
Whether in person or over text, try to avoid making a big deal of their symptoms. Your role can be to help them extinguish the idea that a panic attack is dangerous or intolerable, and remind them that they can handle this experience. You can then offer to help reconnect if they need more support later on.
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How Do You Deal With Pulling Yourself Out Of A Panic Attack When Others Just Say Snap Out Of It
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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.
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I Knew Something Terribly Wrong Was Happening
J.T. Lewis, 58, Charlottesville, Va.
Courtesy J.T. Lewis
One morning almost 20 years ago, J.T. Lewis hailed a cab because she was late to work. As she settled into the back seat, Lewis noticed the car seemed unusually hot, dirty and cramped. The driver’s seat was so far back it seemed to be crushing her. She felt sweaty and light-headed.
“Suddenly, I couldn’t breathe, Lewis recalls. There was this crushing chest pain. I knew something was terribly wrong. Was I dying?”
The attack subsided after a few minutes, but Lewis was so shaken she had the driver drop her at her physician’s office. After a battery of tests, the doctor told her there was nothing physically wrong with her.
A few weeks later, Lewis, who frequently traveled for her job as a lawyer, had just buckled into first class on a plane when it happened again. The pressure in her chest. The feeling that she couldn’t breathe. Sweaty and pallid, she asked the flight attendant for some water.
The flight attendant took one look at her and instead had the pilot return the plane to the gate, so Lewis could get off. I was frustrated, confused and humiliated, Lewis said. I began avoiding business travel.”
After that, the panic attacks started happening more often. In the short run, medicine quelled her symptoms: Her doctor prescribed daily beta blockers plus Xanax for the moments when she felt an attack coming on .
Now retired from law practice, she hasn’t had a full-blown panic attack in years.
Remember That It Will Pass
During a panic attack, it can help to remember that these feelings will pass and cause no physical harm, however scary it feels at the time.
Try acknowledging that this is a brief period of concentrated anxiety, and that it will be over soon.
Panic attacks tend to reach their most intense point within 10 minutes of their onset, and then the symptoms will begin to subside.
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Use Essential Oils To Snap Your System Out Of The Attack
Personally, I rely on essential oils and happily so. They arent like prescription drugs, where you become addicted and dependent. Essential oils are 100% natural and you can use them to snap your mind, body, and soul out of an attack. I always have some sort of anti-anxiety essential oil on me, whether its a roller or a drop on my wrist, essential oil jewelry, etc.
The scent of natural extracts trigger certain toxins in your brain that help you calm down and come out of a panic attack. However, its important to find out which ones do what. So, do educate yourself on the types of essential oils for anxiety and what each does.
To Relieve Anxiety Talk Out Loud To Yourself
Give yourself permission to have an anxiety attack by saying the words out loud. Remind yourself that the attack will end, and it wont kill you or cause you to faint.
Carbonell says that understanding the physiology of fainting and reminding yourself of it is important. People faint when their blood pressure drops. A;anxiety attack can make you feel like youre going to faint, but you wont because your blood pressure doesn’t drop during an attack. Remind yourself out loud of truths like these to counter your fears.
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How To Deal With Panic Attacks Tips & Techniques
Not every technique will help everyone that experiences panic attacks, and we certainly dont want to overwhelm you with a dozen things to remember while your head is spinning. However, if just one or two of these tips sound like they might connect with you, then maybe you can keep them in your toolkit in the event of an attack: