Symptoms Of Panic Attacks And 7 Tips To Manage Them
Have you ever felt overcome with intense fear, with your heart beating so fast it could jump out of your chest, sweating profusely, trembling uncontrollably, and feeling faint? This is what a panic attack feels like, and most people experience such an attack at least once in their lives. In panic disorder, people experience panic attacks fairly often and unexpectedly.
Without treatment, panic disorder can get worse and have a significant negative impact on the quality of your life. Treatment usually involves talk therapy and medicines.
Symptoms of a panic attack
A panic attack may happen unexpectedly, at any time and in any place, and without obvious triggers. Signs and symptoms of a panic attack include the following:
- a sense of imminent doom or danger;
- an intense fear of losing self-control or dying;
- increased heart rate;
- shivering uncontrollably;
- profuse sweating;
- shortness of breath and chest pain;
- nausea and abdominal cramps;
- feeling dizzy and weak;
- a feeling of detachment from reality and from oneself.
If a panic attack is a one-time occurrence, it may require no treatment. But if you’ve had two or more of such attacks and live in a constant fear of another panic attack happening, you should see a doctor.
It’s easy to mistake a panic attack for a heart attack. If you haven’t had a panic attack before and you're unsure what your symptoms are, get medical help right away.
Measures that may help prevent a panic attack.
If you are already familiar with the experience of panic attacks, there are some measures you can try to prevent a panic attack when you’re feeling it’s going to happen:
1. Try deep breathing.
It’s not always possible to get control of your breathing in such situations, but inhaling deeply and then slowly exhaling may prevent other symptoms or at least reduce their severity.
2. Be conscious of what is happening.
If it’s not your first panic attack, you know that it will soon be over and you’ll be fine. Try to focus on this thought to stay grounded.
3. Close your eyes.
A panic attack can happen in any place, and if you’re in a stimulating environment (such as a crowded street), it may help to close your eyes to reduce the influence of these overwhelming stimuli.
4. Concentrate your attention on a specific object.
Chose an object that you can see clearly and focus on its details (what it’s made of, its movement, size, colors, and shape). Repeat this information in your head until the attack is over.
5. Try exercise and relaxation techniques.
Light exercise, such as walking or swimming, and relaxation techniques, e.g. yoga and meditation, can help you achieve a better control over your body, making you better able to control your response to stress.
6. Imagine you’re in a calm and relaxing place.
You may be in the middle of a sprawling metropolis in reality, but imagine you’re in the woods, on the beach, or another location with a relaxing atmosphere.
7. Take your meds.
If you’re getting treatment for panic disorder, and your doctor prescribed you benzodiazepines, carry the medicines with you so you’ll be able to take it as soon as you realize you’re about to have a panic attack.
An untreated panic disorder can ruin your social and personal life. If you have panic attacks, don’t delay a visit to a specialist. There’s no need to suffer in silence.
This article is purely for informational purposes. Do not self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information stated in the article.