For some people, a panic attack is a random, unlikely event that only happens during times of extreme stress. For others, panic attacks are a frequent occurrence that fills their life with anxiety and dread. No matter how often you get them, they are immensely unpleasant. Fortunately, overcoming panic attacks is possible. Here’s what you need to know about management and prevention.
The first step to overcoming panic attacks is understanding what they are and why they are happening. A panic attack is a wave of intense fear or anxiety accompanied by racing heartbeats, dizziness, uneven breath, and tremors.
What are the risk factors associated with panic attacks? There can be a lot of different underlying causes. Some people get them when they’re stressed or encounter a phobia. In some cases, a panic attack is a symptom of another health problem like generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or drug withdrawal. If a person regularly gets panic attacks with no other known cause, they may be diagnosed with panic disorder.
When you find yourself in the middle of a panic attack, it might feel like it will last forever. However, the good news is that these attacks are temporary and usually end after a few minutes. Here are some panic attack tips that can help you end a panic attack as quickly as possible.
Grounding techniques let you stop a panic attack by focusing on the present instead of falling into a spiral of negative thoughts. Some people like to describe their environment or list items in a category like “dog breeds.” A popular option is the “3-3-3 rule,” which encourages you to look at three items nearby, listen to three sounds, and touch three parts of your body.
Breathing exercises help people to calm down and reduce hyperventilation before it worsens their panic attacks. You can try breathing mindfully in and out. Other people like controlled breathing exercises. A common choice is “Four Square Breathing,” which encourages you to inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, and hold your breath for four seconds again.
Panic attacks are partially mental, so trying to redirect your thoughts is helpful. Many people benefit from having a script or mantra to repeat to themselves. Something like, “I’m strong and can handle this panic attack,” or, “This is temporary and will pass soon,” can be helpful.
Though some tips help with coping with panic attacks while they’re happening, most people want to avoid them altogether. Stopping them from happening can take some time. It involves treating the underlying problems that are causing panic attacks. So, what are the treatment options available? Since anxiety is a chronic mental health condition, treatment isn’t always as simple as taking medicine. Instead, reducing the number of panic attacks you have usually requires a blend of the following treatments.
Improving your overall health and reducing your general stress levels can help prevent some panic attacks. Some potential lifestyle changes your healthcare team might recommend include:
Talk therapy is a very effective way of helping to deal with this condition. Therapy can help you address underlying stress that might be triggering a panic attack, and it can also give you helpful tools for managing anxiety, phobias, and depression. Popular forms of therapeutic anxiety attack help include cognitive behavioral therapy, object relations therapy, and exposure therapy.
There are a lot of different pharmaceutical options for panic attacks. Some patients get a prescription for Xanax or another benzodiazepine that they can take right when they feel the onset of a panic attack to stop it from developing further. Other medications are intended to be taken regularly, regardless of whether or not you feel a panic attack, to help prevent them from happening. Depending on your situation, your doctor might suggest antidepressants like SSRIs or MAO inhibitors.
If you’re dealing with panic attacks, there is hope. Mind Body Wellness provides holistic treatment for anxiety sufferers. Their broad range of therapies helps patients improve their well-being and get relief. To learn more, contact Mind Body Wellness today.