Only you can stop your panic attacks and yes, you can begin to stop them now!
What are Panic Attacks?
Panic attacks are an extreme, transitory spike in your anxiety levels. They occur because your belief in your ability to cope is overwhelmed by your belief that you cannot cope. This often happens at night when your thinking is keeping you awake, but it can happen at any time. Panic attacks may seem to come on for no apparent reason. The reason is always your thoughts, but you may not be thinking the problematic thoughts at the time. Panic attacks are often delayed and so seem to have no connection to anything you can identify, you then believe they happen for no reason.
What are the Symptoms of a Panic Attack?
Panic attacks vary from person to person, however they typically include some of the following: –
- A sense of dread, doom, terror or impending death.
- A pounding heart rate and chest pains. You may feel that you are having a heart attack
- Sweats, hot flashes and chills
- A feeling that you cannot get enough air.
- Nausea and stomach cramping
- lightheadedness, a severe headache, dizziness
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- A sense of being outside of reality
With all these nasty symptoms it’s not hard to understand why you may become very fearful about having another panic attack. This is one of the biggest problems: once you’ve had one panic attack, you may become terrified of having another and may do everything you can to avoid it. It is this very fear of panic attacks which makes it likely that you will have another one.
Understanding Your Panic Attacks
Rather than fearing a panic attack learn to understand them. Although panic attacks can be very frightening you are in no immediate danger. What has happened is your fight/flight response has taken over. This is a genetic response that has developed in all human beings as a survival mechanism. Unfortunately it developed to meet external threats and when you are having a panic attack the threats you are trying to flee or fight are internal. Our fight/flight response works very well for external threats and very poorly for internal threats.
Panic Attack First Aid
The best first-aid for a panic attack is walking or some form of gentle exercise for around fifteen minutes. This switches on endorphins, which will switch off the the stress hormones that have been activated.
The other important thing to do is to keep your thoughts calm. Reassure yourself that you know what is happening, you are not in danger, and you are dealing with it.
These first aid behaviours are great for easing the stress of a panic attack, but should not be seen as a cure.
Preventing Panic Attacks
While panic attacks aren’t dangerous in the short term, they can significantly reduce the quality of your life if you don’t address what is going on inside that has resulted in such high levels of anxiety. There are also long term physiological issues that may develop.
- Take our free stress quiz to see how well you are handling stress. You can get that here.
- Educate yourself about the power of your mind and how it impacts your stress levels.
- Get regular physical activity, sleep and eat well, this will help protect you against excess stress and anxiety.
- Some women find they get panic attacks before a period. This is due to hormonal changes and so it’s an important time to be vigilant with your thoughts and self-care.
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