Panic attack is a term that describes a sudden, overwhelming feeling of fear and anxiety. While a panic attack in certain situations is justified, it is most commonly used to describe a fear that is way out of proportion for the situation. No one can quite put their finger on what causes panic attacks. They can develop during any type of major life changes or because of prolonged stress and anxiety. What is known is that they tend to run in families and that people that suffer from panic disorders are at risk for depression, suicide attempts or drug and alcohol abuse.
Panic Attack Symptoms
- Feeling like you are going to die
- Racing or irregular heartbeat, chest pains
- Hyperventilating or feeling as if you can’t breath
- Feeling weak, faint, or dizzy
- Tingling or numbness in the hands and fingers
- Sense of terror, of impending doom or death
- Feeling sweaty or having chills
- Feeling a loss of control
The most important element in overcoming panic attacks is the desire to do so. Where there is a will, there’s a way. There are many options for treatment available, including cognitive behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, medication, EMDR therapy, relaxation techniques, and other options to choose from. Starting with a visit to your family doctor is usually the best place to start to also rule out any medical issues that might be instigating the panic attacks.
Self-reflection is a great start to recovery. You’ll want to take inventory of your life. Too much stress, lack of sleep, and inadequate nutrition will exasperate this problem. Make a list. Do you drink too much coffee and soda? Excessive caffeine can cause panic attacks. Are you getting 8 hours of sleep every night? Do you do something just for fun every day? Are you happy at work? Even small changes in your lifestyle can make a big difference. Consider introducing yoga or meditation into your daily routine. Plan ahead when encountering situations that may create anxiety.
Tips to Help Overcome Panic Attacks
1. Repeat affirmations that relate to your panic attack trigger. “I’m fantastic at speaking to large crowds.” “I am safe while driving.” “Driving relaxes me.” “I’m starting to feel calm.” Create your own affirmations. It’s better than feeding your mind with negativity or getting lost in the fear of a possible attack occurring.
2. Enjoy soothing music. Find music that brings you to a peaceful state of mind, and bring it with you wherever possible.
3. Breathe. Breathing exercises are a proven way to reduce anxiety. With one technique, start by using the diaphragm, and inhale deeply for 5 seconds. Hold your breath for 2 seconds. Exhale slowly for five seconds. Repeat twice. Try to focus on your breathing.
4. Use acupressure points for relaxation. Many of these can be used even at the onset of a panic attack for relief. Stay tuned to this blog for details on how to do this or contact Tracy Morrow for more information.
These feelings are scary and can come on seemingly out of the blue. If you are suffering from panic attacks, please know you are not alone. If you could use an accountability partner or additional support to overcome panic attacks make sure to contact Tracy Morrow to discuss the options.
FYI- You will also want to rule out the possibility of medical conditions. Mitral valve prolapse, Hyperthyroidism, Hypoglycemia, and Stimulant use can all cause the physical symptoms of panic attacks.
Note from Tracy: Thank you Rebecca for this article about overcoming panic attacks!