Symptoms Of A Panic Attack
Everyone experiences panic attacks a little differently, and not every panic attack is exactly like another.
There are many emotional and physical symptoms associated with panic attacks.
And, while you wont necessarily experience all of these symptoms, the emotional symptoms of panic attacks can be summed up in one word fear.
During a panic attack, youll feel terrified that you are losing control, going out of your mind, or possibly even going to die.
Some people experience feelings of unreality or depersonalization.
The American Heart Association lists these symptoms of a heart attack:
- Discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
- Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort.
- Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness.
Women are more likely than men to experience shortness of breath, nausea, and back or jaw pain as heart attack symptoms.
Panic attacks usually strike with no obvious trigger.
Symptoms of panic disorder often start in a persons late teens or early adulthood, whereas heart attacks typically occur much later in life.
Preventing A Further Attack
It may help to:
- read a self-help book for anxiety based on the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy ask your GP to recommend one
- try complementary therapies such as massage and aromatherapy, or activities like yoga and pilates, to help you relax
- learn breathing techniques to help ease symptoms
- do regular physical exercise to reduce stress and tension
- avoid sugary food and drinks, caffeine and alcohol, and stop smoking, as all they can all make attacks worse
For more help, read how to deal with panic attacks.
Sensory Grounding With Ice Or Cold Water
If you have a washcloth and a water bottle, you have a good start to a panic attack survival kit. Sometimes panic attacks make people feel uncomfortably hot. A damp washcloth around the neck or face can ease this feeling and give you a sensation to think about.
3 ways water can calm a panic attack:
- Hold an ice cube in your hand and focus on the sensation
- Place a cold, wet washcloth on the back of your neck
- Dunk your head into a bowl of ice water
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Does Not Cure Panic Attacks And Anxiety Instantly
While the Panic Solution by Anna and Dan teaches how stop a panic attack in a minute or less, it is not a miracle panic attack cure. To completely eliminate panic attacks and anxiety, it is necessary to complete the program and follow the 21-day plan included. Furthermore, one must apply the methods and techniques exactly as described to reap the full benefits of the system.
Another point worth mentioning is that the 60 Second Panic Solution system may not work for every single person. In most cases, panic sufferers are able to stop panic attacks fast using Annas scientifically-backed techniques and get rid of anxiety. But, the effectiveness of the program depends on the individuals character and efforts, as well as the severity of the problem.
Tips For Dealing With Panic Attacks The Brave Way
Panic attacks can feel terrifying in the moment. Managing your thoughts and behaviours can go along way toward reducing the frequency and intensity of panic symptoms as well as how much they interfere with your life.
When you are having a panic attack, use the acronym BRAVE to remember five great strategies for dealing with panic attacks.
1. Body knowledge. Learn the facts about panic. A panic attack is your body preparing you to deal with danger . If there is no danger your body is giving you a false alarm.
2. Realistic thinking. Try not to panic about panic. Remind yourself that the panic is not harmful. Your body is having a false alarm your F3 system has kicked into gear at the wrong time the alarm will stop ringing in time. Panic is hard but harmless. Think of it like a migraine headache real and uncomfortable but not life-threatening. You can cope and function during a panic attack.
3. Acceptance. Accept that once your bodys alarm system has been triggered, it will take a while before it settles down. Your body cant un-release adrenaline once you realize its a false alarm. It will take a while for your body to return to normal. Once your sympathetic nervous system gets revved up, it will take a while for your parasympathetic nervous system to settle things down, like slowing down a fast-moving train.
To learn more about panic attacks, please click here.
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Write Out The Facts And Mantras On An Index Card And Keep It On You
One of the tools that has helped me is knowing that even the most vicious panic attack cant kill me. Dr. Rodriguez recommends writing this fact down on an index card or in your phone to read when you feel one coming on. Panic attacks are not life-threatening, she says. Write this down. And maybe add the note to yourself, You have survived panic attacks before. You will survive this one.
Dr. Prakash Masand, founder of the Center for Psychiatric Excellence, recommends writing down some positive mantras to get you out of a catastrophic thought pattern. Or better yet, prepare your own. When you have the negative thoughts of gloom and doom, write down some positive and more realistic rebuttals.
Breathing Exercise For Panic Attacks
If youre breathing quickly during a panic attack, doing a breathing exercise can ease your other symptoms. Try this:
- breathe in as slowly, deeply and gently as you can, through your nose
- breathe out slowly, deeply and gently through your mouth
- some people find it helpful to count steadily from one to five on each in-breath and each out-breath
- close your eyes and focus on your breathing
You should start to feel better in a few minutes. You may feel tired afterwards.
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If Feeling Anxious Is Normal When Does It Become A Clinical Disorder
Anxiety is formally diagnosed as generalised anxiety disorder after meeting these specific criteria from the DSM-V:
- The presence of excessive anxiety and worry about a variety of topics, events, or activities. Worry occurs more often than not for at least 6 months and is clearly excessive.
- The worry is experienced as very challenging to control.
- The anxiety and worry is accompanied with at least three of the following physical or cognitive symptoms :
- Increased muscle aches or soreness
A health practitioner will use standardised assessment tools, the above diagnostic criteria, and their clinical judgement to make a diagnosis of anxiety-related disorder.
Find Some Private Space To Normalize With This Posture
While you shouldnt, say, bolt from the company meeting if youre having a panic attack, you may want take a break in a quiet place where you can sit.
When you feel one coming on, if possible, try and go to your nearest bathroom or a private conference room, then, lower your head until it’s almost between your knees and focus on taking slow, deep breaths, says Wright. You may be able to self-regulate and de-escalate the panic attack by doing this. If you can’t go somewhere private and this happens in a meeting, pretend you have to lean down to tie your shoe or accidentally drop your phone on the ground and stay down until you feel yourself normalizing.
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What Are Panic Attacks
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders , a panic attack is an abrupt surge of fear or intense discomfort.
This means a wave of panic could hit you while doing mundane things like taking a walk in the park, or while grocery shopping over the weekend.
However, despite being a sudden attack, not every unexpected feeling of fear or discomfort qualifies as a panic attack.
In particular, if these feelings of fear can be traced to some other condition such as social anxiety disorder, where feelings of panic can worsen when faced with public or social situations, it may be inaccurate to describe such feelings as a panic attack.
While panic attacks may be unexpected, they may also result from dreaded situations such as a performance review at work, or in reaction to a feared object such as an unforeseen financial expense.
Science Explains 10 Ways To Stop A Panic Attack Before It Happens
For those that suffer from panic attacks, they can be a terrible thing. Often, they are misunderstood, and those that suffer from panic attacks are often accused of just being dramatic. This is far from the case though. In fact, panic attacks are far from pleasant experiences. Furthermore, they are a very real thing to those in the grips of one.
Panic attacks are a physical response as a result of a perceived threat, real or otherwise, that is characterized by such symptoms as sweating, shivering, shallow breathing, a racing heart, shaking, and just overall unpleasant feelings. Try to remember how you felt the last time you had a near miss while driving hydroplaning on a wet road, or nearly colliding with another driver. That feeling you likely experienced, the rush of adrenaline, and the fear is what it feels like to be in the midst of a panic attack.
Some time or another, everyone is likely to experience a panic attack at some point in their lives. Whether it be due to an actual dangerous situation or threat, or just from an extremely stressful situation. If you find yourself getting panic attacks regularly for no real reason, and it ends up negatively affecting your life then you may, unfortunately, have a panic disorder.
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How To Know If Youre Having A Panic Attack
Before you can stop a panic attack, you need to know for sure if that is whats happening to you.
Your first-ever panic attack is particularly terrifying.
Panic attacks usually come out of nowhere and the first one may make you think youre dying.
You may head to the hospital emergency room thinking that you are having a heart attack.
But youll be sent home after being told that you only had a panic attack.
Learn To Use Positive Coping Statements
When you are feeling anxious and panicky it can be helpful to have ‘coping statements’ which can be used to remind you that panic is not dangerous and isn’t harmful.
Such statements could be:
- Panic is simply high levels of anxiety
- My anxiety and panic will pass naturally given time. It doesn’t last forever
- I can continue without needing to escape or avoid
- I have never fainted, choked, or had a heart attack
Reminding yourself of these facts can help to prevent further panic cycles happening.
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Panic Attacks Can Be Both Terrifying And Debilitating Says Calvin Holbrook But There Are Ways Of Dealing With Them If Youre Having Regular Episodes Of Intense Anxiety Learn How To Stop Panic Attacks Fast
Ever since I had my first panic attack, Ive been learning about what to do when they happen to try and stop them and how best to reduce my chances of further attacks. I’ve had a few years of experience now and managed to develop techniques to cope with panic attacks when they inadvertently show up .
In fact, since making certain lifestyle changes, I’ve definitely noticed a decrease in the amount I’ve been having. I’ve put together 12 science-backed tips to follow for which can help stop or reduce the severity of a panic attack, plus some ideas on how to reduce your chances of having more anxiety issues in the future.
Assessing Panic Attacks: 3 Tests & Questionnaires
Here are a few tools your client can use to examine their panic attacks and the relevant aspects of their mental health:
- The Panic Attack Questionnaire is the most widely used clinical tool for assessing the severity and characteristics of panic attacks and can help you and your client better understand their unique experience.
- The Generalized Anxiety Disorder Questionnaire is used as part of a diagnosis of a variety of anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, and might be useful for examining whether your clientâs panic attacks are isolated or part of a broader mental health issue.
- The British National Health Service hosts a depression and anxiety self-assessment quiz that may be a useful tool for clients of any nationality to examine their general mental health, which may provide useful insight into the general triggers of their panic attacks.
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Tell Yourself Youre Just Processing Information
When youre suffering from PTSD, panic attacks are so often you cant tell when youre actually having one. Youre in a constant state of fight or flight for months on end. Youre too scared to fall asleep and terrified while being awake. Eventually, when you do finally fall asleep, you wake up from nightmares that scare you awake. Sometimes they come as often as every ten minutes.
A social worker once told me that nightmares are the brains way of processing information. The best way to combat them is to say processing information every time you wake up from one. This little trick has helped desensitize nightmares over the long-term so you feel less panicked after waking up from one.
What Is A Panic Attack
Panic attacks are sudden, intense surges of fear, panic, or anxiety. They are overwhelming, and they have physical as well as emotional symptoms.
If you have a panic attack, you might find you have difficulty breathing, you sweat profusely and tremble, and you may feel your heart pounding.
Some people will also experience chest pain and a feeling of detachment from reality or themselves during a panic attack, so they may think theyre having a heart attack. Others have reported feeling like they are having a stroke.
Panic Attack Treatment And Prevention
Cognitive behavioral therapy and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are the first-line, evidence-based treatments for anxiety. These treatments can be used separately or in combination.
Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on identifying and addressing anxiety-related thoughts and behaviors. It often involves meeting with a therapist weekly and practicing hands-on strategies each day to manage anxious thoughts and behaviors.
SSRIs are taken daily and can help adjust levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain, which can affect mood and anxiety. There are many types of SSRIs. A medication provider will determine which one is best for you and will meet with you regularly to monitor benefits and side effects.
Duval doesnt recommend avoidance strategies or using substances such as drugs or alcohol to cope with or abstain from anxious feelings or panic attacks. Incorrect use of substances, including prescriptions, can interfere with relationships and work.
It is a way to mask or avoid the anxiety were not giving ourselves ways to manage it that are going to decrease it long term, Duval says.
Instead, she suggests finding strategies to manage the attacks or reduce the anxiety around having a panic attack.
The challenge is that oftentimes the more we try to prevent something, the more it will happen, Duval says. A big part of managing anxiety and panic is finding ways to face it.
When To See A Mental Health Professional
If panic attacks are starting to affect your life adversely, its time to see a mental health professional. If youre living with the fear of experiencing another panic attack and its preventing you from going outside and spending time with loved ones, seeking professional treatment can help you overcome these concerns.
Some people are affected by panic attacks in other ways. They may start performing poorly at school or work or may begin seeing significant changes to their health and mental well-being. Panic attacks can even impact your sleep, making you more irritable and likely to take out your frustrations on loved ones.
If your panic attacks make you feel unsafe or impact your quality of life, consider talking to a mental health professional. They can help you understand whats happening and offer panic attack treatment methods to help you tackle the problem head-on.
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Low Levels Of Blood Sugar
The body releases the hormone adrenaline when blood-sugar levels fall lower than normal. This helps raise blood sugar levels back up, but can also induce the effects of anxiety. Thats why its important to keep blood sugar levels stable. Eat regular meals and keep healthy snacks at hand, such as fruit and raw nuts, to munch between meals. A diet which is based around good mood foods that give a sustained release of energy into the bloodstream, such as fish, brown rice and wholemeal bread, can also help.
Drinking coffee is like throwing petrol on your anxiety and watching it go up in flames. Stop consuming it to help stop panic attacks.
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.
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